Content Creation From Start to Finish
Content creation is one of the most important aspects of any business, but not many people know how to do it correctly. In this week’s episode with Hitesh Sahni, we discuss the process he uses to create amazing and helpful content from researching your topic to marketing and scaling your content creation efforts.
Nick (00:00): The content you create is a major part of any effective business strategy. Your content helps build trust, credibility, helps establish you or your brand in a space and is a great way to spread the word about what you're doing. And as you'll hear from today's guest, Hitesh Sahni, not many people know how to create content effectively or correctly for that matter. Hitesh has been very successful in the content creation side of things and has gone on to help many people and businesses create content that worked for them. In this episode, we cover the content creation process from start to finish. And after listening to this episode, you should walk away with a better understanding of research, creating high quality and consistent content, and scaling your content. And after this episode, if you start implementing the things we talk about, you should start seeing some major improvements in your businesses, traffic, and overall online presence. So without further ado, let's get into this episode with Hitesh.
Nick (00:54): This is the Nine-Five Podcast, and I'm your host, Nick Nalbach where we get into the minds of entrepreneurs and people just like you. So you can start, build, and grow your own online business.
Nick (01:12): Alright. Welcome to the Nine-Five Podcast. This is the show where we interview entrepreneurs and business owners to get inside their minds and try to figure out what's working for them and how you can incorporate that into your own business strategy. And today I have Hitesh Sahni. Am I saying that right?
Hitesh (01:31): Yeah, pretty much.
Nick (01:33): Close?
Hitesh (01:37): As close as can be expected.
Nick (01:37): So I guess Hitesh welcome to the Nine-Five Podcast.
Hitesh (01:40): Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure and I have listened to many of your episodes, so it's always a, it's good to be on the other side.
Nick (01:48): Awesome. I appreciate that, man. It's always awesome to hear that people are actually listening to the thing. So why don't we kick off the episode, give the listeners a little bit of an idea of who you are and what it is you actually do.
Hitesh (02:02): I run a digital content agency and we help other brands with the content that their customers will love and which helps them grow. And, uh, I have kind of, it's funny to say that now but I've doing that for kind of more than 10 years. And I started playing, when people didn't even know that content marketing or blogging or digital marketing was a business route. Because I remember I was still in my, I was in college and I was pursuing a bachelor's degree in computer science. Because in India, as you may know, being a doctor and being an engineer is considered a safe career choice. And so that is what I was doing. And in some way you know, one day I just read in the newspaper that there was this new thing called blogging and people are making money from it.
Hitesh (02:53): So I thought, okay, this, that seems interesting. I'd love to do the same. And so I started a blog. And at that time Darren Rowse was very popular. He still is, he had a blog or ProBlogger which is still very popular. Of course, not as much as before. And so at that time, the blogging superstars were Darren Rowse and John Joel and those guys, and I learned a lot from them. And I started everything by myself. I taught myself the whole thing by just reading blogs. So I learned SEO. I learned Google ads, Google AdSense, ad words, video marketing everything. And I was really enjoying the blogging thing. And I also started making money from the ad sense checks right through my college days. And few months down the line, I was enjoying blogging. So much that I was not focusing on my studies as much.
Hitesh (03:40): So my college grades actually suffered, but, uh, that was it. And, I actually a few months later, I sold the blog and made a good profit. So I really like the whole, you know, doing the whole thing. And I thought, you know, I can really do this. And, and that, that, that ended up a little competition too, but because my grades suffered, I just, you know, paused that for a little while started focusing again on my, uh, but still I suck at coding so that we know how that turned out. And then after working for a few years, I went to the U.S. For an MBA program after my India program. So I thought, you know, this is something that I have been, and I saw how popular digital marketing was getting, so this is something that I saw there as an opportunity to and something I already knew and I could help people. So that's what I've started doing. And this is where we are.
Nick (04:29): Crazy story. So you basically, you were up there through, you've seen a lot of changes from the beginning of blogging to now then.
Hitesh (04:36): Oh yeah, for sure. 99% of the things that used to work back then they don't work anymore.
Nick (04:43): So are you still, you're currently in India right now?
Hitesh (04:45): Right now, yes. I'm in India?
Nick (04:46): Awesome.
Hitesh (04:47): And, uh, because of the, as we know, we have been hit by this COVID situation. So I'm running my company from home.
Nick (04:53): Are you always running it from home or how do you what's set up there like?
Hitesh (04:57): So I used to a few months ago, there was, I used to have a small office too, for people who would like to come to work and work from an office. But after the COVID situation it been a hundred percent work from home. Earlier, it was like a mix of both things. Some people worked from the office and some people worked from home.
Nick (05:12): I didn't realize you had already set up an office. That is so cool.
Hitesh (05:16): Oh yeah, it was. Uh, and it was a coworking space where I had a team of like 5 to 10 people. And in fact, before that, I had a huge, I have been managing a huge project for a company called Sprinkler, which was a project where, it was a project worth $30,000 a month. And they wanted me to take it because it's a social media software, which is used by Fortune 500 companies. Except just one company, which is Facebook because they don't want to do, you know, have any other company, get access to their data because data is how they make money. So other than that, and I was taking care of all their content, including their documentation. I was also managing a team of 20 writers for them.
Nick (06:01): Wow. That is very impressive.
Hitesh (06:02): Thank you.
Nick (06:02): Well, I'm glad we got you on then, because I'm here to talk to you all about content creation. And I really want to get into the scalability of content creation, because I feel like content creation as a whole can kind of be overwhelming once people start diving into it. I know it's been for me, especially with all the different kinds of content that are out there. So I'm really excited to talk to you about that, but before we even get into that, I'm sure since you've been listening to the past podcast episodes, you know, that I like to kick off a lot of these episodes asking my guests what their superpower is and for anybody listening that doesn't know what I mean, super power. When I say that, I mean like, what is the one thing that you do that you just like, you kick ass at? Like you are the man. What do people come to you for if they need help or advice? So what would you say your superpower is?
Hitesh (06:50): I think I would say my superpower is really, really delivering on the quality aspect of my services because a lot of clients, you know, they come to me and they will say like, well, we have hired someone before. We hired a writer before, and we hired an agency before, but we didn't get the results we expected, because what has happened, you know, in these last few years is that, you know, everybody's kind of claims that you know, we are the expert in digital marketing, or content creation, or blogging. But very few people, you know, don't actually know what works or they actually have the experience to back it up, and that I think that is where I really, really excel at and the clients can see it. And, uh, so far, you know, I worked with a hundred plus brands and never there have been any dissatisfaction or any review, which has been less than five stars.
Hitesh (07:34): And so I believe my superpower is, you know, creating content, which is really, really good and really well researched. And because I see a lot of people, like, for example, I work with a lot of writers. I hire writers as well as I write for other businesses. So I see that what's happening is many of these writers, when you see the content, you can see that it's been written by some inexperienced writer and it's not coming from a place of experience or a holistic research. Because what most writers do is they'll be writing something they'll find some similar articles and they will just write the same thing in their own words. You know, they will not review it or assess it or connect the dots or see what it all means. So, you know, I write content for businesses, even when I written for like, I have no idea about the industry. For example, once I worked for a business, which was for industrial ups systems and uninterrupted power supplies to hospitals and other kinds of systems. Right. And I had no idea about their industry or their products, but I am very good at doing killer research. And I can refer, I know how to refer to like 10, 15 different sources to write something holistically. So it looks like you talking about an experienced person. But many people don't have that skill. So that's, I feel, uh, something I really excel at.
Nick (08:51): Very cool. The research thing is something that I'm going to want to talk to you about a little bit later on the episode, but I guess to start. So since we're talking about content creation, why don't you tell us a little bit about what content creation is and why should we care about content creation as entrepreneurs, business owners?
Hitesh (09:10): Sure. So content creation actually, you know, it's a really interesting because content we've many people feel that content creation is something that came with the internet, uh, because the content creation has been alive even before the internet, even before the internet, brands have been creating content and helping. But it doesn't, it just wasn't in the, the web just exploded it further. And the brands which were excelling because, let me give you an example in my country, there's a very famous yoga guru, a yoga master, and his name is Baba Ramdev. And so this guy, uh, you know, he started teaching people yoga. Uh, he started holding these sessions all around different locations in India. And he taught people yoga just for free, no fees, no charges. He'd just go to a city and he will set up his camp. And he started teaching yoga.
Hitesh (10:06): And in a few months, or year as he just built this huge following of people who, who, who ran to those sessions, even if it's not happening in their city, he would go to a session. He amassed this huge following, right? So down the line, five, six years, he started a company which is now a billion dollar corporation and where he sells all these medicinal, natural, a natural products like cosmetics and other things. And because, because he build that trust over time, there are people trust him that he knows about how fitness and health. And so people are buying those products. Now, what has happened is with internet, you can actually write something or create a podcast or create something that can reach a lot of people, which is just like that gap, because it's an online gap instead of the offline gap. And once you have a mastered following and you gain that trust, whatever you sell, people will buy it. So that, that is the main essence of content creation. It's not, you are not writing content for marketing. You're not writing content for sales, you're writing content to help people. And the more people you help, the more people will be touched by it, will be influenced by it, and they will start trusting you. And trust is the biggest power. Any brand can have.
Nick (11:14): Those are all really good points. I think it is kind of interesting content and I guess, online internet business, that type of stuff that has really, I think, altered the mind. And I know it's taken me a while to come to this realization of what it actually takes to run a successful business as a whole, not just a blog or a website, but a full-on business. You need to have that relationship building. You have to build that relationship with your customers or your visitors or whatever audience you have. And the internet makes it too easy to overlook that. Like, you're just, you put out a blog article or whatever it is, and millions of people are going to see it. Well, that's not necessarily the case until you've built up that rapport with everybody. So I do think that is really interesting what you're saying, talking about. I'm not even gonna try to pronounce his name, but the yoga instructor, like he's obviously holding those seminars and those classes. He has that one-on-one interaction with everybody, and it can be difficult to position yourself online, typing behind a keyboard to, I guess, build that kind of connection. I know that's where I've struggled and I'm sure a lot of people are in that same boat.
Hitesh (12:22): And the second thing is, which is a main highlight of the story is that it takes time. You know, many, many brands and people I see they don't have patience. So content creation and content marketing is something that may take months to years to build up the momentum, you know, based on how competitive your niche is. And the most people don't have that kind of diligence to just keep producing content without seeing any results. Most people get disheartened, but it's only when you know, you keep at it for some time that the results will happen.
Nick (12:50): Yeah, that's been a common theme with pretty much every guest that I've brought on that does any kind of blogging and they've seen success. It's like, I mean, I don't know if you've listened to that episode with Ryan Biddulph. He talks about blogging and he's been doing that for a decade as well. And he tells the same story. I mean, it didn't start that way. Just the consistence, the persistence, he just stuck to, it kept putting out good content that people cared about. And now he's amassed this large following of other bloggers and people wanting to know what he's doing, how it's working. I mean, it's the same thing, but for some reason, as a new entrepreneur or a new blogger or whatever it is, you, you see that and you recognize it, but you're like, ah, that's not going to happen to me. I'm just going to be, I'm going to kill it the first week. And get all these visitors and subscribers and it's gonna be perfect.
Hitesh (13:37): Then the reality strikes.
Nick (13:37): And then usually that's when you get people dropping off and they're like, yeah, it didn't work. I'm not going to do that. So, okay. Now how important as a business, we've kind of touched on this already a little bit, but how important is the actual content creation online for your business?
Hitesh (13:54): So, earlier it was that it was, uh, many people thought that, you know, content creation is important only for B2B businesses, but now even B2C has just started coming on board. And, content has become even more important in the last few years, because it has, it is the only strategy less which, which, which can differentiate every other digital marketing tactics that you can use for your business. We made SB CO, social media, or advertising AdWords, Facebook ads, everything that a business can do, a competitor business can also replicate. Content is the only thing left that can actually differentiate the business and actually make them stand out in the market. Because as I said content marketing takes momentum. It takes time and it takes a lot of effort in creating that content and not every brand has the, another thing is content creation is very subjective. It's not like if one brand can create the same type of content the other brand can create. That is really something that can give you that competitive advantage that other brands don't have. And once you reach that, it would be hard, very hard for the competitors to catch up to the same level because when they are at the same level, you will be even further. So that's why content is even more relevant and more important than in these times.
Nick (15:14): And I think another big thing that tends to hinder people or prevent people from even starting is the idea that everybody's doing this. Like you said, if you're putting out content, anybody can basically take and spin that content and create their own version of it. But the world is a huge place. I always like to use. I think I've used it in previous episodes, but the idea of like the fitness industry. If you look at you have your big, main players that are your million billion dollar companies, which, I mean, you're probably not going to compete with that. Not saying it's not possible, but as a solopreneur or something like that, you're probably not going to compete with them. But you look at all the little sub-niches in between and all of the people that are still finding their little pockets within the industry, they still have a place. They make a very decent living on them for themselves. And they're reaching people that the big names can't reach. So even if it is a huge industry, that's seems like it's engulfed by all these people. Your content, if you stay true to yourself in how you create the content, that's going to resonate with certain people that the big names just can't compete with. So you can build up a following there.
Hitesh (16:18): Yeah, absolutely. And that reminds me of other point, you know, when it comes to content marketing, competition is actually good. And that's for two reasons, one is competition tells you that the market is there, right? And that people are making money in that niche. And so you can also do the same because of competition tests the viability of the market. And the second reason that competition is really good, because as you said, everyone, it's not that people are not doing content creation or content marketing. They are doing it. But the good news is that 99% of people are doing it wrong. And 99% of brands are doing it wrong. They're doing it just for the sake of doing it. So if you do it right, and you still have a chance to, you know, differentiate yourselves and succeed.
Nick (16:53): So with that, let's talk about how to do content creation correctly. Let's, let's get ahead of those people that are not doing content creation correctly. And the first question that I want to start out with is content quality versus content quantity. I'm actually, I have a few different arguments either way. So I want to hear what your take on that is.
Hitesh (17:13): Absolutely. And, uh, you know, when I was in the MBA program, there was a joke that a professor made, which is very true. Uh, he said that whenever you ask someone with an MBA, any question, 99% of the time, the on data answer will be it depends.
Hitesh (17:31): And that, that's a good way to sound smart too, because then someone else to your question, you can just say, it depends and you can sound smart. So, in terms of, you know, content quality and content, quantity, then again, you know, the same argument holds because it's not that it's one or the other, you need both. But I would that you need quality more than quantity because if you have quantity with no quality then, you know, nothing else would matter. So I would like to start by saying, you know, if you see what is happening in any niche in any industry, you enter any keywords in Google or any other search engine. You will see that, you know, almost there like hundreds and thousands of businesses in every niche these days. There's a lot of competition, as you say, but if you type in 10, 12 keywords in a search engine like Google, you will see that
Hitesh (18:18): There are just a handful of websites which are dominating Google search results. Just for, for all those industry terms. For example, if you type any term related to B2B marketing or sales, you will see that the HubSpot almost always will be in the base page one of the Google search results or Neil Patel or those, those guys. So even despite having so much competition and so many businesses are producing content, but yet only 10, 12 brands that are those such that they always come up on the first page of Google search results. So that also is the to support my point there are very few brands that are doing it right. And when I say doing it right, I mean that, you know, earlier it was okay to just write something up and then publish it. But these days, there are so many tasks involved in publishing even a simple piece of content, because every social media platform, every search engine, has their own algorithm.
Hitesh (19:12): and has their own means of understanding your content. And then everybody's catching up to content marketing. So you will have to have certain ingredients, which other people don't have. So for example, when I publish a blog post, they're like kind of 50, 60 things I have to do to check, to be able to publish that blog post. And in fact I'm working on an information product it's a bot, which will list around the 75 to 100. Items, which are to be done for each blog post before it's published. And I plan on launching it soon too. And that's only that speaks to the quality part because earlier and now there are not, there's not just SEO or other things. There are new concepts, new buzzwords or trends coming up every few months. For example, now there is mobile, there was responsive, the whole trend of these responsive websites and pages, a few that started a few years back and now then AMB, then there is AMB technology and all those things, and then SEO is changing a lot.
Hitesh (20:07): So, and then for example, earlier, it was that you could write a headline normally, but now there are headline analyzers and headline generators. Uh, so you can really make your headline the best it can be. So every aspect of your blog from headline, to intro, to conclusion, to in-between ingredients, to adding click, to tweet boxes. So every it's gotten more complicated and more, and there are more and more tasks and more to really publish a good piece of content. And as I said, research is one of my superpowers, as I said, right. Uh, so, and in fact, maybe it's weakness of mine too, because when I am writing something, I researched a lot. I research the hell out of it. So I said, I, sometimes I researched so much that I am, I know more on the topic than any anyone else.
Hitesh (20:53): Uh, so, and I, and I, this is something that I also need to improve on because that all slows me down when I'm writing in my own content creation efforts. But it's just, I just make sure that whatever I'm writing, I just feel proud of it that nobody else would ever feel this so much better than what I have written, and that has even started paying off since I launched my own company blog a few months ago. And that's also kind of a contradicting story because a company producing content for other brands, but my own blog was being neglected. And that, and that was because I just didn't, we were too busy working for other brands that we didn't have the time to look at our own content creation efforts, which I started taking seriously a month, a few months back. And, within the last three, four months, I have seen a huge rise in my, own Google search rankings and my own traffic because of the consistent efforts that I've been putting in.
Nick (21:47): That's awesome. I have noticed that as well on my end, I basically had stopped blogging for awhile. I still, I think I published my first blog post at the time of this recording. It would have been shoot what, October 17th. I think October 17th, 16th, and I hadn't published a blog post since hell it hadn't been September or August, even possibly. But as I was starting to do the podcast, I was putting the show notes and the transcripts, everything out in the pocket from the podcast on my website. So it was still, it wasn't blog content, but it was content nonetheless. And that was the most consistent that I was putting content out on the website. And since I did that, I have seen my search ranking starting to climb. Whereas before if I wanted to rank, it was usually I'd put out a blog post, spend a bunch of time trying to get backlinks, trying to get all this stuff like on the SEO side, like ironed out and then I'd slowly see it start to rise. And then I publish a new blog post and then start the whole process over. And it was impossible for me to stay consistent that way. So I think one of the big lessons that I've learned through that is, although you should have SEO in mind when you're creating the content, you shouldn't spend all of your focus on that. You should be focused on putting out the content and the high quality content it's like you said, once you started focusing on it, you started seeing that rise in rankings and all that.
Hitesh (23:05): Right. Absolutely. Cause you know, I've seen because of what already do, what is the one thing, this is another thing that I do when I'm writing content, which is I will search for those keywords and see all those articles, which are ranking for it. And I deliberately try to make sure that what I'm writing is better than all those articles.
Nick (23:24): Yeah. That is actually, you've probably heard of it before but Brian Dean's Skyscraper Technique.
Hitesh (23:30): I do. Yeah.
Nick (23:31): So for everyone listening, Brian Dean, he published this article about the Skyscraper Technique. And basically what he does is he finds the topic that he wants to write about. And like what Hitesh is saying, here he goes, researches the top articles in that topic, that keyword that he's trying to rank for. And he'll basically go through, pick through the articles, see what really stands out in all the articles, see where they're doing really well, see where they can use improvement. And he basically turns them all into one massive post where he includes stuff that no other posts that he tries to stand out against all the other posts in the top 10 results. And in doing that, he's been able to outrank people who initially were top 10 Google, he's now ranking them because he's improved the top 10 results already. I think one of the cool things is the information's already there.
Hitesh (24:18): Yeah, absolutely. And that reminds me of another point since you touched upon. Link-building uh, and so I, I think I have, by some way, I have a very interesting tip for the audience, uh, is, uh, and this is something that grinding also dealt with the skyscraper technique. Uh, and that is, uh, the concept is known as, you know, coining a term. So, uh, for example, Brian Dean coined this term which became popular as the skyscraper technique. And same with the, if you've heard of Ramit Sethi. A few years ago, he came up with the term, briefcase techniques, something like that. And there's also a thing, a very famous productivity blogger. I forgot the name, but he came up with this term called the procrastination monkey. And so, uh, what I'm trying to say is that if, if it's, it's very hard to pull off, but if you can coin a term that gets popular in your niche, you will be building links for years to come without any effort. So that's what worked for these guys. So that's also something that, you know, food for thought.
Nick (25:16): And that, I mean, that comes along with building up that relationship with your audience. Like if you can build a community around your brand and the content that you're putting out, then it kind of becomes easy because you can get the community involved. I think of Pat Flynn, I mentioned him quite a few times on this podcast, but he's got team Flynn for the win hashtag team Flynn, like all these things, like he constantly throws it out on his podcast, but then people will be on Twitter or Instagram or whatever, and they'll be hashtagging him team Flynn for the win and all this stuff. Like he's just kind of created a hype around this branding, but he has the community there to actually create that. And they kind of hype him up with that hashtag and they kind of hype each other up cause they're all part of it.
Nick (25:56): So again, we come back to the building, the relationships that's such a huge, important part of any business, whether it's a blog, online business, brick and mortar business, like you have to start there.
Hitesh (26:06): Absolutely.
Nick (26:07): One thing that I did want to bring up on the quality versus quantity discussion there. So when you are just starting out, do you think, I guess I better reframe the question a little bit. Anybody who's starting out that doesn't quite really know the direction that they want to go, but they know they want to get into either online business or they want to start blogging. Do you think it will be beneficial for them to try the quality over quantity as quality? I'm kind of mincing my words here a little bit, but more quantity over quality, just for the sole fact of getting content out to see what works or do you think there should be more quality with less quantity, even at the beginning stages?
Hitesh (26:47): I would say the first thing is that when someone is starting building content in a particular niche, I would first say that, you know, do not start doing it unless you know about your topic. Because I see many people starting a blog or starting a YouTube channel to create content on something, which they don't have much experience or expertise to begin with. They're just trying to copy others or may make others and see that others are doing the same thing and succeeding. So I can do the same, First thing is that you really should have some kind of experience of expertise in what you're talking about because your audience will be very quick to see that you're faking it. And it's very tempting to say or believe in the advice, then fake it until you make it. And that's what many people do, but you should have some credibility also.
Hitesh (27:34): It's not just, just fakeness, faking it is not going to get you there. And, uh, and so, and then that then comes the second part that if you already have some experience or expertise within which what you are talking about, then the quality part will be a huge, better, huge, you know, uh, benefit, usually be taken care of already because no one else has the same voice or the same parts or the same perspectives as you have. So, when you start producing content like that, it does have some automatic quality built in. And, uh, and then you from that place when you are, or your frequency can improve of creating new content and improve because then because you already know something, you can create content fast, but if you are having people, uh, you don't have to look up everything before you have to create content because you don't know about that topic, then obviously be slow. And, uh, then the quality would also suffer. So you can combine quantity with quality only when you are an expert on the topic, but if you're not then stick to quality only first.
Nick (28:34): Now I think consistency, regardless if your quantity, if you're just starting out and you're trying to do really quality work, and you're doing the research upfront, you're spending the time to put out a quality product. Even if you can't consistently, like the frequency is not where you want it to be at. I think the consistency is still very important, just because if you start building that community, you would really want them to be able to rely on you for that information. Like if you come out and you like stick to a blog post every week, or maybe a blog post twice two blog posts a week or every other week, whatever the frequency might be, at least your community is aware of what that frequency is. And you can always improve that once you start getting it down, then you can start doing twice a week or three times a week or whatever you need to change it to. But I think having the consistency, so your community is I guess, kind of following and they know what to expect from you week after week. I think that's extremely important.
Hitesh (29:27): And, and you know, the core principle that people always forget is that, you know, it's not about the traffic that your website gets. It's because of the 99% of the traffic that the website gets are first-time visitors to. But the people who actually come and engage with your content, people who subscribe or people who leave a comment or review, or people who buy something, they are return visitors. So your content has to be such that there should have that it encourages the visit of return visitors. If I come to your website and I see that, I don't see that there is not much quality in your content, I will not return to the website and a return visitor is the opportunity lost. So no matter how much new traffic you get, it's not going to matter if it's not returning and to make them rerturn, the only way you can make them keep them returning keep them coming back is to have epic content.
Nick (30:13): I love it. That is a very great point. We've touched on this in the last couple of episodes, and we kind of touched on that as well. We talked about driving traffic to your website and quality came up obviously, and really you could pay for ads and get all the traffic in the world. But if the content on your website sucks, it's not going to matter because they're never going to come back to your website again, you're just going to be wasting money and time. So I completely agree with you that Epic, high-quality content is definitely the way to go.
New Speaker (30:43): Absolutely. In fact, I would also like to share something that has been lately. I have been experimenting with and it's working great. For each of my pieces of content. I have embedded this little feature where it says that, uh, you can download this content as a PDF by opting in. And since I started offering that, uh, feature, my conversion rates have more than doubled.
Nick (31:04): Is that like actually downloading the, like the blog post?
Hitesh (31:09): If you're visiting my blog posts, there will be a box which says you can download this blog post as PDF. If you opt in with your email address. And since I've started doing that, my conversion rates are increasing like double or triple on some blogs.
Nick (31:21): Wow. Okay. That's really cool. How do you, so do you write, when you do your blog posts, are you on WordPress I guess to start? Okay. So do you build everything in WordPress and then transfer it over? Or how do you actually convert it into the PDF?
Hitesh (31:35): So our processes, we started with the Google Doc and, uh, so since we are starting with a Google doc, and then we do the collaboration and I also have some assistants in content creation. Uh, so once we are ready to publish a piece of content and then because it's a Google Doc, it's easy to convert that into PDF as well. And then it is, uh, easier to publish on WordPress as well. And even when we are publishing content on WordPress, maybe it's just a unique to me, but I actually don't like using WordPress editor. Even for publishing blog posts. I use a page builder like Beaver Builder, which gives me more freedom to have my blog posts layout the way I like. And, uh, and then once I have a Google Doc now, a Google Doc and make an order to a PDF.
Hitesh (32:22): And then, uh, that PDF, uh, I integrate that with my email marketing software. Uh, I created an opt-in form. And for that I use MailerLite which is which I recommend for every beginner because it has a lot of features, uh, and it works great and it's free. And, uh, yeah, and then once I integrated everything, then include that form in the top of my blog posts, which is giving the reader of the opportunity to download it as a PDF. And in some cases I'm also creating PDF checklists, so that, uh, so why offer like a starter kit, which has a blog post, full blog post version. And there's a one page checklist that they can go to every time they are trying to accomplish, uh, with what I'm advising in the blog post. And since I have started offering these checklists and the PDF version of my blog posts it has been, it has been really good for my opt-in rates.
Nick (33:10): That's awesome. You'll have to, before we get off here, you'll have to give me the link to that, the blog checklist. So I can throw it in the show notes for this episode. Sure. I've never thought about actually creating a download of the blog post itself. I have it right now. I have it for the transcript. Like you could go download the transcript from the episode, but I haven't done that with any of the blog posts, I guess at the same time, the transcript there's no, opt-in for it. So now you got my head spinning.
Hitesh (33:35): Yeah. And, and I learned this strategy from the big commerce blog because they are there, they do it, they use this a lot.
Nick (33:41): That's really cool. I am going to probably start trying to do that. That's email marketing has been a big thing that I've been hammering on pretty hard. So I've been trying all different kinds of strategies. So, I'm going to try using that one. That's great.
Hitesh (33:54): Yeah. I mean, I mean, there are pages on my website where the open rate was one to 2%, but since I implemented this or it's become, it's three has gone to five to six percent
Nick (34:02): Really? That's really cool. Have you noticed what your, your time on page has been, roughly on average? Do you still get a decent amount of time on page
Hitesh (34:12): Considering the average for all the pages on my website? I think it's close to two minutes.
Nick (34:16): Okay. That's cool. All right. Let's talk research. Before we get into the scalability, which I really want to touch on. Let's talk research a little bit here. So you said you do a lot of research almost to a fault, right? Give us some idea of where we can start when we're getting to research. Obviously having a little bit of a background on the topic you're going to be writing about is going to help you tremendously. But if we're going to sit down and start researching for the next blog post we're going to do, what, what do we got to do?
Hitesh (34:46): First thing I do is always to find out what are the, what language actually, my target audience will use to search for that topic. So when saying that in fact, the first step is actually finding out who the target audience is. So when I'm writing for a client or myself, we always try to figure it out as much as we can about their target audience. In fact, I've also written a blog post about it, where there like 15 ways to analyze your target audience. And, uh, once I have some clear picture of them, then I will try to see what keywords will they type to search for this topic. And so when I am searching for that topic, there's always some different work. You where's that come up, which are like very different from each other. Uh, so for example, if someone is searching for a term like content calendar, it's not necessarily that everyone uses that term. Some people will use the term editorial calendar.
Hitesh (35:33): So when I say that I research so much that it's almost too fault, because then I will research all these terms, not just one term. And so I try to see everything that an audience can search when they are looking for information on this topic. And I see like all those articles and all that content that comes up. And the second thing is I find myself going a lot to websites like Amazon, for books and Udemy for courses. Because Amazon is great for books, but it's also great for doing research on your content because you can see because Amazon tells you which books are selling the most. So in fact that Amazon is telling you on a platter, which information people are actually paying for, right? It's one thing to see that and what people are searching for, it's even better. If you can see what people are paying for.
Hitesh (36:17): And that's what Amazon shows you, where people are from their best-selling books on each topic. So when you see the best selling books on a topic, you can see what information that people actually pay money for. And that helps me a lot to literally put down, you know, have a zero in on what people would actually want from this information and what are people actually would want to know. And the other thing is, again, for courses Udemy, because when you go to Udemy, you can see which courses are selling the most and which courses have the best reviews, the most positive reviews. And the ones who don't have positive reviews, you can see that what the negative reviews are saying, what information people are expecting that they didn't get. Same with the negative reviews on Amazon. You can see that when people review the book, negatively, what information they were expecting, and they didn't get.
Hitesh (36:57): So all these things really helped me understand, like, if someone wants information on this topic, what will they actually want and what is the internet not giving them? And so that, that is something I tried to incorporate in my own content. And other than that this was like researching on what people would want. And the other research part is like, actually the material that will be covered. So that comes from again from blog posts. And in fact, sometimes what happens is when I see that there is a book that has been doing really well, that there is a course that has been doing really well. So I actually buy that book or course to see what the hype is all about. And that gives me even more information that I can, you know, use in my own marketing.
Hitesh (37:35): So that's how I really try to incorporate a lot of you said sources. And the other thing is I always try to make it a point to find any case studies or research statistics, which could be used in the content to back up my claims. And, uh, for that, I don't do the particular website, although there are websites like Statista.com. Uh, but I would just, again, go to a search engine. And I would say, for example, if I'm writing something on email marketing, I would search for email marketing case studies or email marketing statistics. And that gives me a lot of proof or evidence when I want to back up my claims.
Nick (38:08): As you were saying, all of that, I was just thinking, yes, yes, yes. You, you touched on a lot of really good points there. The keyword research part, I know exactly what you're talking about, the different variations of them. I almost picture it like a, like one of those Christmas tree maps where you got like this keyword, at least to this keyword and this keyword, and then those keywords break out into smaller keywords. And you just keep, you can pretty much go infinite with it. One thing I did want to touch on with the Amazon stuff. So I guess, I don't know why I didn't think about it, Like actually looking at the reviews and see what's bestselling. But one tip that I had heard you actually go, you don't have to purchase the book, but read the table of contents and see what the chapters are in those books. And a lot of times, if the book is about that specific topic, there's chapters in there that could all make up different blog posts, or maybe one ultimate epic post for your website, the table of contents, right there basically tells you everything you need to know. And then you can do all the research.
Hitesh (39:04): Exactly. Exactly. And then the same with courses.
Nick (39:07): I liked that one. I didn't, I didn't even think of Udemy. Because like what, Udemy, Teachable, Thinkific, like all of those would probably be good. I don't know if you have access to, if you can see them in there or not, but
Hitesh (39:18): On every course website, you can see exactly what the syllabus is, what the curriculum is, what are the topics they are covering, but even without buying the course, you can see this information.
Nick (39:27): Awesome. I'm actually started trying that one because I have not thought to do online courses, which is weird because I'm been thinking about doing online courses myself and I haven't thought to actually look at the online courses. Okay, awesome. So we got the research done. We're publishing blog posts. We're consistently putting out high-quality content, and now we're ready to scale this beast. What do we have to do? Where do we go from here, man?
Hitesh (39:51): Now there are two parts to it. First is you want to scale the process so you can keep turning out this content week after week. And the second thing is you want to make sure that you are doing adequate promotion also because just writing content and not getting any traffic, especially in the beginning. First, it can be de-motivating. And the second is it's not gonna help your business as well because, uh, promoting, because you know, if you've heard of, there are many, the most prominent advice that I have heard from almost every marketing guru, marketing influencer is that, you know, content marketing is 80% marketing and 20% content. So promotion is also just as important. Uh, so when it comes to scaling content creation, I would say there are a few things which are very, very important. Every business should take the time to create those things first.
Hitesh (40:41): First among those is having a style guide, because if you would want to scale content creation, you will have to highlight this. And considering how subjective writing is, it's totally possible that you give a writer this assignment to write something about this, and they would produce something totally unexpected because you need give them specific guidelines. And that's why it's very important for us to have style guidelines in place for your brand, which put a finger on what exactly who your target audience is, what your voice is like, what is your tone like what are all the consistent practices you're following your content. And even if you're not outsourcing content to someone else, even if you're writing all your content on your own, you still need to have a style guide because human mind tends to forget things, because let's say I wrote a blog post on a topic, and I decided to do something in it.
Hitesh (41:30): For example how I write code in a blog post, or if I am including a screenshot in a blog post, and let's say, I'm annotating that screenshot. So did I enter there, the screenshot with a square or a circle or with an arrow, how did I annotate it, right? So those specific guidelines on those things, and if I'm creating a second blog post. Now I will forget what I did in this first blog post. And so let's say in the first blog was I added an image. I added a square and the second blog post I added a screenshot, I put an arrow in there to annotate something. So although it may seem like little things, but they actually make a difference in making your content more consistent and more memorable. Because your content has to be so memorable that if someone is reading one of your blog posts, even without seeing your brand logo, they should be able to recognize, okay, it's this guy's content. Because I bet even it's like, for example, a few minutes ago you mentioned Brian Dean from Backlinko, right?
Hitesh (42:25): If you're reading, Backlinko's content. When I'm reading his content, I don't, sometimes I don't even have to see that it's Backlinko's website or it's Backlinko's logo. Just from reading the content, I can see that it's Backlinko because he's the one who writes content this way. His screenshots are always annotated in a certain way. His writing style is always the same in terms of little charts and sentences and tidbits. So you can kind of figure it out. Yeah this content is written by Backlinko. That's because there's consistency. And that consistency makes you memorable. And to have that consistency, you need a style guide. And the second thing, which is very important is having content briefs for each piece of content that you create. In fact, I have written in detail on both these aspects on my blog. I have, I have a guide on the style guide and I have a guide in content briefs as well.
Hitesh (43:07): So a content brief also, again, don't know the style guide is for all the content that your brand is going to create, but a content brief is something, a document that outlines what you expect from one specific piece of content. So for each piece of content that you're going to write, there has to be a content brief first, which outlines what the different things like, what, what are the keywords to be targeted with this piece of content? What are the goals of this piece of content? What will be the special requirements, what will be the points to be included. The more comprehensive content brief you can have, the more likely it is that if you, when you give that content brief to a writer, they'll write something that you actually expected. And the third thing is having a content calendar. Because having a content calendar is really for the next 6 months or 12 months is really what disciplines you and keeps you on track, or if you're not producing great content over time.
Hitesh (44:00): And so those three, along with them content strategy is I think the core components that are absolutely must when you want to scale content creation. And the second part of your question about promotion. And promotion, when it comes to promotion, I do a few things every time I have published a new piece of content, which is I have automatically setup my blog feed, connected my blog feed to my email marketing software. So whenever a new post is published on my blog. So every week it's a newsletter, it's reaches my email subscribers. And the second thing is I do a lot of outreach because I will see that who might be the people who might be interested in this content. And then I will reach out to them to, uh, promote this content.
Nick (44:47): Do you do that is through social media?
Hitesh (44:50): Mostly it's with cold email. Because I find cold emails to be more effective and more easily trackable. And the third thing, which I've been doing this for the last few months, and I'm really happy with the results is I'm using Google Ads. And because Google ads, as we discussed also a while back that Google Ads is something, uh, because there's a lot of hype about social media or Facebook ads. But what happens is then that the intent is if it is very, little when it comes to Facebook ads. So if you're browsing Facebook, you want to see what your friends are up to. You, you actually don't want to see ads or do something else, but when you're on Google, you actually search for that information. So if I can present you that information, when you search for it, you're more likely to be interested in it. So in fact, I have, I've been optimizing my Google ads so heavily that, uh, my cost per click is coming out to be no more than 5, 6 cents per click. Wow. And, uh, so this is really getting some good traffic and good conversions from Google ads.
Nick (45:47): When did you start out when you were just starting out on Google ads? What were you at as far as cost per click?
Hitesh (45:52): So when I was just, so it has been a few years, uh, and when I have seen, uh, so what I've seen at averages for when people are running Google ad campaigns is it's 30 to 50 cents per click.
Nick (46:04): Wow. Okay. Yeah. That is something we we've talked offline and that's something that I'm definitely going to look to get into. I've dabbled with the Facebook ads. But like you just said, people want to see their friends. They don't care about the ad, you're posting, and you really have to post something that jumps off the screen and really captures someone in order to get them to click. Unless you are a brand. And you're trying to remarket to them and Google ads. I mean, if you can do the research and really know what your audience is looking for, you can tap right into that and show your ad right to the people that are looking exactly for your content.
Hitesh (46:38): Exactly. And Google ads is also great for building your remarketing list so that you can do or start doing Facebook ads after that. Because we, you get people from Google ads who are actually interested, and then those people can turn into your subscribers or website visitors. So your Facebook pixel can now track that these people who are the visitor to your website, so through that you can tag on the same people on Facebook, and you can know that you are targeting people who would actually interested.
Nick (47:03): Yeah. And you just mentioned Facebook pixel. That's an important thing. If anybody listening is not quite sure about Facebook ads and Facebook marketing, you actually, there's a Facebook pixel. It's a little line of code that you place, you' embed it on your website. And when visitors come to your website, the Facebook pixel can fire and let people know, kind of gather information about that visitor. And then when you go to run Facebook ads, you can actually target people, meet that same criteria of the visitors that are coming to your website. But you need to have the Facebook pixel set up ahead of time. Otherwise Facebook won't have anything to read. Okay. So we covered a lot of the process. What kind of tools, apps do we need? I know you mentioned a couple keyword research tools, stuff like that. You mentioned MailerLite, which anything that we talked about, links to this show tools, all SF I'll put links to the show notes or links to all these items in the show notes. So make sure you go check out the show notes after the episode, but yeah. What kind of tools do you get going on here?
Hitesh (48:00): Yeah. So apart from the tools that I've already mentioned, I think there are some other tools also that I use a lot in which deserves a mention. So, one of those is the, for SEO, I use the RankMath plugin and for the creating those beautiful opt-in boxes and, popups for, for getting email subscribers, I use a plugin called ConvertPro. And other than that there is, as I already mentioned that I use for all my changes to my website, I use Beaver Builder, which I find to be the best in terms of all of the page builders that I've tried.
Nick (48:38): Beaver builder?
Hitesh (48:38): Yeah. Beaver Builder. And I have tried all of them mostly. And then for forms, I use WPForms. And, but, you know, with, with mentioning all these tools, I'd also like to mention one more thing because I see that a lot of focus initially on content marketing techniques or tools, uh, because there was a movie I watched and it had a very good line about a race car driver, which says about how to win a race. Where the protagonist says, you know, it's not about the car, it's about the driver.
Hitesh (49:10): So I would like to point out this fact in this context as well, because it's good to have all these tools at your disposal, but ultimately it's about how well you are doing what you're doing. And tools are just secondary.
Nick (49:21): Exactly. And really all the stuff that we're talking about here, you really don't need the tools to get it done. Obviously you need a website, you'll need WordPress, something like that. But a lot of the stuff can be done without spending any money, just plain internet, get a computer, set up your website, and then really the tools should compliment what you're already doing. So once you start getting everything figured out and you can do it manually, then it's nice to start incorporating tools to start automating and streamlining that process. That is an important and very great note to make. I like that analogy. It's about the it's about the driver, not the car.
Hitesh (49:56): Absolutely.
Nick (49:57): Alright, man. Well, we are let's see. We are getting close to our hour. What would be some final tips that you want to leave the listeners of the Nine-Five Podcast?
Hitesh (50:08): So yeah, the final tip would be, and it is, it's actually something I use recently wrote a LinkedIn post about, and it touches on the same point that I just made. That I see, I see people now trying to, you know succeed with content marketing or a YouTube channel or podcasting. And they know whenever someone, I am mentoring someone talking to a client, they will say that, Hey, we are currently doing, following these strategies. We are doing SEO. We are doing social media, we are doing link building and we are doing cold email outreach. Give us, give us some more strategies, what we should be doing to grow our business. You know? So, the mistake I'm seeing here with most of the brands that they're, they're looking for some new magic bullet or some new shortcut that will magically grow their business, which is of course not going to happen. So it is a point where I usually have to stop actually looking for new advice and just do what you already have learned. And just do it right. And just keep doing it. And that's the, that's the only way I've seen that people who have succeeded, they have succeeded.
Nick (51:04): I love it man. I think I actually read something very similar on one of your blog posts. Cause that I wrote it down before this episode, I forgot to bring it up, but I love that. That is, that is excellent. All right. Last but not least. Where can people find you? You've mentioned quite a few blog posts, PDF checklists. You got a lot of great content out there for people. So where can they get a hold of it?
Hitesh (51:26): Yeah. So my best way to reach me is through my website, which is Smemark.com, S M E M A R K. And the second best way is to just connect with me on LinkedIn. And I can give a link to my LinkedIn profile as well as they can just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick (51:43): Perfect. And just like all the other links, like I just mentioned, not too long ago on the links to Hitesh's LinkedIn, for Smemark, his email all that stuff. I'll put in the show notes of this episode. So make sure you pop over to the show notes if you want to get in contact with Hitesh. So man, thanks for coming on the show. This was, this was a lot of information, but it was a lot of really great information I'm pumped about this episode.
Hitesh (52:08): Pleasure is all mine. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Nick (52:10): Absolutely man, take care.
Nick (52:12): Okay. That is it for the interview, guys. Now Hitesh really knows his stuff and is doing a lot of great things with his own business. So I would highly recommend you check out his website, Smemark. That's S M E M A R k.com. He shares a ton of helpful information. And I mean, after listening to this episode, it makes total sense. He comes from a place of helping and serving others. And this is something we should all be striving to do with our work and content. So definitely go check out what he's got going on at Smemark. If you found this episode, helpful, leave a comment for us in the show notes. I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on the content creation process and maybe even hear what's really helped you create better content. You can leave a comment on the episode by heading over to the show notes page for this episode, which can be found ninefivepodcast.com/episode17.
Nick (53:03): That's one seven and on the show notes page, you can also find all the links discussed on this episode, including many of Hitesh's links and the awesome content that he has talked about on the episode. So if you want links to any of that content, make sure you go check out the show notes page.
Nick (53:20): Now, lastly, I would really appreciate it. If you went and left a review of the podcast. Your reviews really help get the word out about the show and we're all about helping people here. So the more people that know about it, the more people that we can help. So definitely please go leave a review. I would love you for it. Well, that is it for today's episode, guys, I hope you enjoyed it and I will catch you guys in next week's episode.
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You most likely spend a TON of time on your content. But are you doing it the right way?
In this episode of the Nine-Five Podcast, we are discussing the topic of content creation with Hitesh Sahni. In this episode, Hitesh takes us through his ENTIRE content creation process including:
- Research tips and tactics
- Consistency with your content
- Creating high-quality content
- Promotion and marketing
- Scaling the content creation process
How to Research for Your Content Topics
The most important steps in creating quality content is doing the proper research. One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is not knowing or understanding the content they are writing about. Does fake it until you make it sound familiar?
Here are a few places to start:
- Amazon Reviews
- Amazon Book – Table of Contents
- Udemy, Teachable, Thinkific course reviews and contents
- Skyscraper Technique (more on this below)
We discuss how to take advantage of all these research tactics in the episode, so make sure you listen to the full episode.
Creating Content Consistently
It’s not enough to simply create high-quality content. You also need to be consistent with the frequency in which you are sharing your content as well.
As you build up an audience as start bringing more people to your content, they will come to expect more from you. Maintaining a consistent schedule is way to give your audience an idea of what they can expect.
The more content you can create, the better, but not everyone can create content to release everyday. That is alright!
If you can produce one blog post each week, or maybe it’s only one every two weeks, set a schedule for yourself and STICK TO IT. Hitesh recommends creating an editorial or content calendar to help you stay organized and on track.
High-Quality Content for the Win!
There is a lot that goes into truly creating high-quality content.
Lucky for us, not many people are doing it correctly. This means there is a huge opportunity to get a jump on our competitors.
Above, we mentioned the Skyscraper Technique, a term coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko. This strategy involves searching for your topic on Google and paying attention to what kind of content is being shared in the Top 10 results. Just a few things to look for when using this technique:
- What kind of post is it? (list post, how-to, interview, etc)
- What type of media is included? (images, video, audio files, etc)
- The tone of the blog posts
- Who is this content intended for?
This content is in the Top 10 search results for a reason. Take what you’ve learned from each of these posts and try to create something that either combines strategies or improves upon these strategies.
In many instances, you can find differences in the content pieces and bring them altogether into one ultimate post.
Promoting Your Content
Content marketing is 80% marketing and 20% content. That means once you’ve done all the work to create your high-quality content, it’s time to start promoting it.
In the episode, Hitesh talks about 3 main ways he uses to promote his content:
- Email your subscribers
- Running Google Ads
Emailing Your Subscribers
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you have already started building your email liste, now is the time to reach out to them. Let them know about the awesome new content you created.
Pro Tip: To ensure that people click on your link and read your posts, you need to be sure to let your subscribers know WHY they should be reading. Think about how the content can provide a tangible result or outcome for your reader and include that in the email.
Another way you can help spread the word about your content is by actually reaching out to people in your potential audience. Social media can be an easy way to do this, but Hitesh recommends doing some quick searches online and look for people you can reach out to via email.
Cold emails marketing CAN be an effective form of marketing when done correctly. Again, to attract interest and intrigue with your content, you need to make sure you spell out HOW this content will help the person you’re reaching out to.
Using Ads to Bring in Traffic
Running ads to your content is also a common and viable option for generating traffic. Obviously, this stratgey involves some cash investment so you want to make sure that your content is great. The last thing you want to do is pay your own money to bring people to your content just to have them never come back.
Hitesh recommends using Google Ads as opposed to Facebook or Instagram ads, at least in the beginning. I agree.
If you think about it, people go on social media to kill time and connect with their friends and family. Typically people don’t come on the platform with the intent to find your content. When running ads on social media, you really need to stand out and catch people’s attention.
With Google, on the other hand, people are going to Google with intent. They are searching for specific answers or content. If you can figure out what that intent is and how it relates to your content, you can actively find people who are looking for the answers your content provides.
Scaling Your Content
Once you’ve started creating content on a consistent basis, you may start thinking about ways to scale your content creation and start producing more regularly. One of the logical options for this is to start hiring employees or leaning on freelancers to help create your content for you.
When it comes to scaling your content, Hitesh highly recommends creating a style guide for yourself and your writers. Creating content is typically subjective, so you want to be sure that everything is established and outlined prior to handing off to a writer. Having specific guidelines upfront can ensure that your content is consistent from one piece to the next.
Aside from being able to maintain consistency with multiple writers, a style guide is something that can be beneficial to yourself as well. If you are writing a blog post once every two weeks, you may not remember all the little details you used to put together that post. Having that style guide can help with that.
This is just scratching the surface of the information we covered in this episode, so make sure you listen to the full episode with Hitesh Sahni.
Links & Resources
Note: Some of the links listed below may be affiliate links. This means I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you choose to purchase through them.
- Connect with Hitesh on LinkedIn
- Check out Hitesh’s amazing content on Smemark
- Learn how to create an editorial calendar for your content
- Find case studies and stats to include in your content at Statista
- Improve your on-page SEO with RankMath
- Create beautiful opt-in forms and pop-ups with ConvertPro
- Take advantage of visual website builders like Beaver Builder (Hitesh Recommended) or Divi (my personal favorite)
- Start building forms for your website for free with WPForms
- Start building your email list with MailerLite (Hitesh Recommended) or ConvertKit (my personal favorite) and start letting your audience know when new content comes out
- Learn more about the Skyscraper Technique on Backlinko
- If you haven’t done this already, you can leave a review of the Nine-Five Podcast over on iTunes
I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Nine-Five Podcast. Thank you so much for listening!
If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to iTunes and leave a review. Your reviews are what help get this podcast in front of more people!
What do you struggle with most when it comes to creating content for your website?
Let me know in the comments below!
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