CEO of Digital Talent Agents – John Hall
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John’s company Digital Talent Agents is not a traditional PR agency. But he does help get a lot of amazing press for his clients. He walks through what clients pay him lots of money to do for them to build their personal brand.
Go to DigitalTalentAgents.com for more info!
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Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire. I'm Jaime Tardy and today we have John Hall on the show. I am really excited to have John on; he owns a company called Digital Talent Agents and I met him actually back in June at Blog World. I'm really excited because he is not just like a PR company and I actually recommend quite a few people to his service, because I think it's super cool. So we're going to go into that, but first we're going to find out a little bit more about him. Thanks so much for coming on the show today, John.
JOHN HALL: Thanks for having me. It's good to be on.
JAIME TARDY: Okay good. I know DTA is pretty new so we're definitely going to go into that and like your strategies for content marketing and all that fun stuff too, but for now, how did you start to build your wealth and how young were you when you started?
JOHN HALL: This could be as early as third grade. I actually started a business where I sold my mom's lunch and then I got other people to get their moms to make certain lunches and I'd find out what kids would pay the most for and what they'd pay the least for. Our parents basically packed those and then I'd sell them, make a profit and so I actually got in trouble there. That was my first instance so if you want to start that early.
Real wealth became, when I was 18, I actually went to the University of Missouri. Didn't want to pay for where we were living in the capacity, I didn't want to do the dorms, I didn't want to do stuff like that so, after living in the dorms, shortly I decided that I wanted to buy a house. I went out and I talked to I think 23 banks until they finally loaned me and another guy, it was actually from Farmington, Missouri, it's three hours away from where we were at the time and had to talk a bank into loaning two 18 year olds money and we bought our first house there. We flipped it in two years. We bought it for I think around $90,000, put like $8,000 into it and sold it for close to $140,000.
For two 18 year olds, that was a pretty good deal for us. What I did after that is took that money, invested it in more property and just kept doing that. My business model was around, I wanted college students to have large homes, like my homes on average are 3,000 to 4,000 square feet. They are actually nice and close to campus; close but not too close because that's where you get the rundown housing. Ended up doing that and I just kept doing. There are certain instances where I would rezone a property so I could get more people because it was such a large house.
I'd be buying houses for $130,000/$140,000, I don't know where your readership is, but that's the market here near the University of Missouri and you'd be able to have a mortgage payment of $700-$800, but you'd be able to get four to five students, it depends on the zoning, but if you have an R2 here you'd be able to get four people in there paying over $500 so your mortgage payment is at $700 and then you got the over $2000 in rent coming in. It's actually a pretty good cash flow and I just kept doing that and expanded into a pretty good business. That's where I would say the first, I mean I guess where I got to the actual net worth of a million is through that.
JAIME TARDY: First, how did you talk any bank? Number one, I understand you had to go through 23, which most people would have stopped at like two or three, but how did you convince any bank to loan two 18 year olds? Did you have a job; $90,000 for a house?
JOHN HALL: Yes. We worked. I was a server, he worked at the Ramada Inn and we had to basically do an in-house loan. It's a lot less strict on criteria there so we were able to do it and then when we actually did have jobs and were making money then I was able to refinance later and then after that I was able to basically go the normal 30-year fixed. It was tough, it wasn't easy.
JAIME TARDY: It's easy for us to go oh and I went to 23 banks and it was great and then I found one. Usually, people get stuck, at that beginning. Were you just dumb 18 year old and going I am going to just keep going until I hit it? I mean how do you sort of have that perseverance to keep pushing?
JOHN HALL: Something I learned very early is that the reason why people are successful is because it's so easy to give up and everybody does it. I mean everybody once they hit a barrier, I've never had barriers in my mind. That's something that I would say has been great for me is that I almost take them as a challenge. I don't give up. If you deal with me, you'll realize that if there is a problem I'm the last person, like it has to be crazy there's no possible way that you could go to the moon, John, or something like a crazy idea, but I just think the reason why people are successful is because they do what other people aren't doing. They fight, they work for it and they go to 23 banks where everybody else would give up at 2, those are the people that actually stand out.
JAIME TARDY: That's awesome. That huge perseverance you've had just since you were younger, it wasn't something you cultivated, you have just always had this?
JOHN HALL: No, I was fortunate. My parents were really great about challenging me. I came from a family, they weren't crazy well off, but they were decent enough where they had money to provide me with certain things, but they still made me work for it and it worked out very well. I started working when I was 14 and got a good work ethic going and once that started, it was very easy to pick up on these little things. I got a good base so any readers that are parents, you know, and I know you're a parent, it's a great thing. Start them early. Start them, I think my mom had me selling cheese and sausage when I was in first grade and cheese and sausage is a terrible product. I wouldn't sell it.
JAIME TARDY: Also start a good salesman when they are young. That's so cool. I think that's really important too, especially for any parents that are listening, I mean that's one of the reasons why I do this. I want to find out what those characteristics are that you can sort of cultivate in your kids. Let's start moving into a little bit having to do with the current company. Actually, you know what, you've got a parent company from DTA, so let's talk a little bit about how that started. How long ago did that start?
JOHN HALL: Adventures is the parent company of DTA and that started I believe in '07 and last year it was 28 on the Inc 500. It was the fastest growing company in Missouri last year and 28th in the nation, so it was doing extremely well. The guy who is in charge of that, he's kind of a mentor of mine and when we got together, he just loved the idea. He just immediately knew it was a great idea and so he became an investor and a client actually. What's interesting is he was one of our case studies because we got him started out on small publications, which I can get into later, but now he contributes to, he has a Forbes column and different things.
He's a good cheerleader for us, because he liked the idea, he invested and he actually was a client that saw the benefits and so it's kind of a fun thing. But in that portfolio, there's 13 different companies and we're kind of considered one of the ones that he has invested in. If there's any questions about funding or anything, I can certainly answer and tell you when to take funding or when not to. I never, really to start a company, I could always have started a company because I had the cash flow through the real estate, but a lot of times it's good to take money, if they can really bring something to the table and there's no way DTA would be where it is today without his support and his mentorship and his connections and all of that so it was a great decision to take money in that capacity. It wasn't as much for the money as much as for his leadership.
JAIME TARDY: Let's talk about where you got the idea for DTA and then we'll talk about funding and sort of move on from there.
JOHN HALL: Excuse me.
JAIME TARDY: I know, water.
JOHN HALL: I am big water drinker. Really DTA came up from, what is the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs, for small business owners, for really anybody to grow a company? We looked at the core of that and it's because of credibility. People want to deal with people that are credible, they want to deal with people they know, they want to deal with people they think are intelligent. When it comes to that, that's one of the hardest challenges. All it takes is one right partnership or all it takes is one right client. There's just so many opportunities that could come your way.
We looked at the core of that and said, how can you do that? How can you become the Seth Godin? How can you become that person that everybody looks at and respects as a leader? When it came down to it, we looked at content being huge and actually naturally doing it, not faking it, not being like here's a $10,000 retainer to a PR company get me in these major publications. Really that's bullshit. Excuse my language.
JAIME TARDY: It's a nice show.
JOHN HALL: A lot of people just really, I mean they go and invest in, just because they get their name out there once or twice, they think oh wow, things are going great and it never really pays off for them. But to do it the right way of actually, I mean the people who worked hard to do it like the Seth Godins out there, they are the ones that are doing it where they are getting published in all these publications, not just a Forbes or Wall Street Journal, but they engaged audiences. They are the ones that are building those relationships first and actually leveraging themselves from that.
We wanted to create a way to streamline this process, make it so it's actually earned and it makes sense. You're earning the web presence and what we're doing is that we're streamlining it, creating the strategy for it, putting the building blocks together and basically doing all the work for you other than the big thing for us is that you need to be an expert to deal with us in some capacity. You need to know, and everybody is an expert in something out there, but the thing is that when we're dealing with a client we just want them to really know their stuff and we want to pull that from them. So whether it's interviews or four or five questions where they are answering in a stream of consciousness way, that's all we're asking from them.
So when we put that together, people were like wow. So I'm an entrepreneur where credibility is a problem, time is a problem and I have this company who is going to basically save me time and build my credibility so that people look at me as an authority in this area. That's when it hit and things just took off from there. I mean the growth was, I don't even know of a company that has grown faster recently but it has just gone well. We hit a niche and it just worked out well.
JAIME TARDY: Did you do any research before you sort of went with this? I know you started telling people and they really liked the idea, but did you do a ton of research to make sure that this was going to be a profitable idea, that you could compete, all that fun stuff before you went ahead and jumped in?
JOHN HALL: Actually I mean my advice to people is to go and test it. If you send it out there they're just like I have this idea. I came up with Craigslist like ten times. I came up with Facebook, but did I implement it? No.
JAIME TARDY: I know, right.
JOHN HALL: Ideas are, I think it was Brad Feld who said, "What's most important? Team, team, team, team and then idea" or something like that. I apologize if I butchered the quote but you get the point. It's more of the team and implementation that matter compared to the idea. I went out there and we started testing it out. What's interesting is that cofounder who we kind of started with, we went out there and we got a few clients and immediately it actually became profitable and we were like whoa.
JAIME TARDY: This might work.
JOHN HALL: It was the second or third month where we actually starting seeing us near the breakeven area and so when that happened it was like oh my gosh this is actually legit. Let's do this. I am going to be honest; I took myself on as a client very early. I built up my own brand by really drinking my own Kool-aid. I took myself as a client, built my credibility and authority. Now I have a Forbes column. One of our senior advisors was the executive director of the Wall Street Journal. I mean this is something that let's say two years ago none of those people would pick up the phone, if I tried to call them. When you actually take the lead and become a leader and educate yourself, make yourself be that successful thought leader, people are going to pick up the phone and people are going to email you back. It's a very cool feeling to see that respect level.
JAIME TARDY: Did you have any experience before? You just said you took yourself on as a client but were you a thought leader? Had you done this before you decided to create this company?
JOHN HALL: My experience to be transparent, I was in real estate doing something totally different a couple years ago. I mean, when you think about it, I was actually, even though I was an entrepreneur and had the student housing business, I always thought that it was valuable to work for an entrepreneur, a very successful one, first and I don't think I mentioned this to you, in our talks, Jaime, but I worked for one of the larger real estate entrepreneurs in the Midwest for five years. I still had my own company, I was still an entrepreneur, I was still doing well and making a lot of money at it.
The thing is that I feel that a lot of times you can be the best entrepreneur by learning from the best and the guy I worked for, he was one of the smartest, he basically wrote the law on tax reticent vacation in Missouri and Georgia and did some crazy things where I learned a lot from him. During that time, I looked at different things, all this branding stuff. People were doing real estate deals with these certain people. What are they doing? I started looking at wow this stands out a ton.
People are only dealing with these experts for this reason. I started seeing that. I started looking at it more, really educating myself, interviewing, talking to people who actually were doing it, who were thought leaders in the area. I learned more about that. The investor that I mentioned, he had a lot of experience in the area so we just did a lot of research and looked into it, started doing it ourselves and actually he and I actually are both kind of almost you could say experts because we educated ourselves. If you can do it for yourself, you can definitely do it for others. That's how I ended up in this area.
JAIME TARDY: That's awesome. Tell me about the first couple of months of growing this. You started testing and you started trying to just get clients and sort of sell this idea and then you became profitable really quick. Did you get funding then or you were just sort of figuring out the testing process? Walk me through the first couple months of the company.
JOHN HALL: First couple months would be, yeah, taking on a few clients and testing things out by actually getting, we were getting them published. We were connecting the dots. We don't promise anything, just because in this area it's really difficult. All we can do is provide as much data as we can that we're doing great things and we try to be very transparent about that but we would do that. I think we took like five or six clients on. We looked, after a couple months, we saw the value and were like wow. Talk to them, hey what benefits are you seeing? We ended up hitting things that we didn't know.
At the time, we were just out there for thought leadership, but then we started thinking oh my gosh, there's a huge content marketing obviously because that makes sense. There's a huge SEO benefit earning it the right way. The thing is I have really really good friends that run SEO companies and I was never a fan of link building. I said think that content should be good. I don't think you should force links. It bothers me and for your audience that are link builders, it's fine, I've got buddies who do it but the idea is that there's a lot of stuff that's forced out there and I don't want that to be forced.
We were almost taking it, like a lot of clients liked dealing with us just because it was the right way. They were showing that they were experts and earning the links by quality content. We saw that, even though we were in no way an SEO company, there's a benefit there. Most publishers that we talked to and we respect all their guidelines; for example, Washington Post, they don't links so we don't put links. We're not a link builder. The thing is that there is a benefit of earning it the right way and Google is respecting that now. If you look, Google is killing duplicate content. We only do exclusive original content. Duplicates, Google is just killing you for it now.
These days, Google looks at penalizing people more than rewarding you. If you're actually doing it the right way by earning your expertise through doing it through content, through the ways that we kind of do it, it's the right way and then we looked at rep management. Obviously getting solid stuff out there, positive good content from you is good for your reputation online and then social media actually, social media is huge. If you know with Facebook and Twitter, everything is just content driven.
We're going to give you this great content that you can share and grow your network on social media. That's what we like. We're like, at the beginning, when you first thought you were going to be this one company doing thought leadership, you end up being like wow we're, in a way, a future of combining marketing strategies.
JAIME TARDY: That's really interesting. When did you know that you should be taking funding or was that sort of the plan from the beginning?
JOHN HALL: Really when it came down to it, since the investor was there so early in the stages, it was more of a, I mean we have a great relationship, gotten so much; that's the thing, my advice to all your readers is it's almost like a marriage. It's actually more difficult than a marriage sometimes. I am a happily married guy.
JAIME TARDY: You've been married for a long time.
JOHN HALL: I know. The thing is a lot of times it's easier to get out of a marriage than it is an investor. It can get a lot messier in an investment. I would just say, when it comes to taking on funding, if you have the money, do everything you can to fund a business by cash flow and avoid taking on the investment. However, if you have, I would say the two things that are most important, if you are taking on investment, if you have a strong relationship. I trust our investor more than, I mean one of the top 10 people I trust. That's a huge thing.
The second thing is that the resources, the things that he could bring to the table were just unbelievable and he has. It was a great decision because I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. We wouldn't have 40 people on staff, if it wasn't for him. We'd probably be still like 4 or 6 people just doing decent. I think we would be doing well but us working together it has really done well. It just worked out for the better and I am happy I did it.
JAIME TARDY: Awesome. That's really interesting. Let's talk about these content, like if you know this much about content marketing, we want all that information, right. If there are people that can't afford your services, you know what I mean, or have the time that want to sort of go ahead, tell me what your strategies are for clients of yours. How do you actually build this up so that way they can get what they need with content marketing?
JOHN HALL: Yes, I'll be very straightforward. Really, when I speak to people, I go out and speak and mentor young entrepreneurs. I'm part of the young entrepreneur council and I love going out there and just educating people on it because really people deal with us because we have a service, we do all these things, but you can do a lot of things yourself and I am one of the big advocates. We don't have secret sauces. I'll go out and tell you anything you want to know. I mean really go out there. There's so many things you can do. The biggest thing is it comes back to differentiating yourself from others who would say they can't. Take that word out, I can't does not mean anything.
If you're not anywhere, the biggest question is I haven't been anywhere. That's your own fault. Have you commented on posts? Have you tried to guest post at Jimmy's blog that's so low? Get some examples out there. You'll be able to go out there and do things and get a base. The biggest thing is that when we take on a client, if there's nothing out there, you're like are you kidding me? You have not done one thing. We're happy to do that. It's a little more strategy, a little more time spent doing that, but really go out there and things that you can do they're so simple. Like Brand Yourself is a good resource, I would start off with that just because it helps you show up on Google search results.
Patrick Ambron is the founder there. He's a good buddy and it's a great company. I would say, for your readers, sign up for that. It's a free resource. What it does is that it will go through your social media accounts and it will tell you what you can do to show up for Google's search results. It will look at them and say hey put your name here. Make sure you put this here and it will actually coach you through and it's very step by step easy. Once you start doing bigger things, then there's a paid services like $9.99 and you just sign up and it will keep track of all your publications. It will make sure you are doing everything to optimize for search results. But that's the first thing. Make yourself so people can find you and then when they find you they think you're credible.
That's the thing that we do. When we start with a client we're like okay we want you to be able to be found in a second. People are like wow. They are almost overwhelmed by this person is the real deal. Once they go in there and they read the content in there, it's just really good and the content that's there, it needs to answer every reason why I wouldn't want to deal with you. If somebody is like why would I want to deal with this guy and they read this content and they're like shit he's pretty cool. Like he knows his stuff, his culture seems cool. I don't know, there's a lot of things you can do to start that out. So brand yourself is one.
Let's start from, I'll say the kind of four pillars of branding what we call in the office. So there's getting published. That's a huge one. That's what we specialize in; getting out there, if you want to start doing that, start commenting on blogs, start building relationships with editors of small sites and start doing a guest post here and there. That's what you do your first step.
After that, I'm just going to go with the first steps now, but then speaking. If you say I can't speak, there is somebody who is going to. I speak at the university all the time and I speak at different chamber of commerce events. There's things that you can go out and speak. Make sure you know your stuff, do your research, experience it on your own. I don't care what business you are in, but you should actually be legit and have a proven record of some sort of a case study that you're actually credible. Use that and get yourself some speaking opportunities.
Awards and lists. If you can get awards and lists, those are huge. We have a department that just specializes in getting awards and lists for clients. Really, when we're doing this publishing, getting them out there as that expert contributor to all these different places, I mean awards and lists are just a common next step. So this person is an expert in this area, oh wow they're out there with good content, wow they got an award, they got a top 10 list for the best consultants in this area or something like that. Those are the things that really build off of each other.
Once you do that and then you have book writing which I know you're doing. Exactly, you know the credibility that goes with a book. When you put these together, it's fairly easy to have a strategic plan to get there. I'm going to do this, then I am going to do this, then I am going to do this, then I'm going to do this and so what we do for our clients is we want them to focus instead of I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this, you need to run your company and we're going to do this for you and we're going to take care of it.
That's the thing is that a lot of times, with the cost, you know we're based out in the Midwest so we have lower cost than a typical firm in this area. A lot of times people look at us and say just the opportunity cost of dealing with you compared to my time. My time is very valuable and that's a big thing with people. People don't value their time as much. A lot of times in an hour I can get two more clients or I can form a partnership with a major publication or something like that. My time, I look at that as valuable, so I do outsource things that I can do. People need to look at that and they need to actually be strategic and smart about how they're running their business, how they're going to get to, like start from Point A to Point B and how am I going to get there.
Some of these early steps I think you can do on your own. I'm perfectly fine with that, I'd almost prefer you get something. We can obviously help with that, if you're interested. But those are the first steps. Do that, get out there on your own and really set those building blocks. You'll be able to see immediately that people are picking up the phone more when I call. People are responding. Also you can send stuff out. If you strategically design the content so that it's answering questions that are going to help you grow your business, then you can send that out.
The trump card is that when I've talked to someone and I've been like oh hey by the way in my recent Forbes column, in my recent, I actually did an article in Young Entrepreneur or Under 30 CEO about this the other day and they're like oh wow other people think you're smart. That's the thing, it's like just changing people's perception. I told my wife the other day that I'm not even cooler since I've gotten all this stuff, I'm actually less cool. I go to bed at 9 or 10 now.
JAIME TARDY: Less cool.
JOHN HALL: It's just changing people's perception that you're the real deal.
JAIME TARDY: It's funny; I want to ask. This isn't just for people that are doing speakers or content online already. You deal with businesses. People that actually could have product or service businesses that have nothing to do with a specific thing online but you help them too.
JOHN HALL: Absolutely. We deal with universities. We deal with corporations, companies, it's really anybody who is wanting to build their credibility. So anybody who is wanting to become a leading expert and be an authority in their area, we have people, you would laugh at some. We've talked to people like wineries who want to be the well-known wineries in Napa. We've talked to universities all over. University of Missouri was one of our early clients, their business school. We represent their dean and different professors.
Really our bread and butter is entrepreneurs so we represent a lot of startups and a lot of funded startups and the reason why is because one of the biggest challenges for startups is to get money is that people want to invest in the management team. The management team is huge. A lot of times we work with the startup owners and the people who are getting ready to build their credibility so that when that investor comes or when that partner comes, whatever that big deal is, that they look and they're like wow, these 19-year-old kids, these 20-year-old kids or this 35-year-old guy who just jumped into business, they're very respectable. They look at them and they're like they are the real deal. They know their stuff and that's where we've been able to do I would say a lot of our success stories come from that.
JAIME TARDY: That's really interesting. If we go back, because I know you deal with sort of bigger businesses, like you were saying, or startups that have funding; if somebody else is just sort of starting and they're planning on doing this and they want to do more publications, they want to do speaking, but their website sucks, you know what I mean, they have the home page and it's okay and it's not exactly what they wanted. I get this a lot where people are like well I don't have a crazy really expensive amazing awesome website. I don't want to go out and start pushing it until I know that that's good and I can't afford that, there's all excuse, excuse, excuse, but what do you sort of give? Do they need to have a really awesome website before they go out and start doing stuff?
JOHN HALL: You're always going to have that problem. That's what's hilarious. I was talking to a guy and I am not going to say his name, but is very well known in the website industry. He actually does large sites charging $40,000/$50,000 a website. He was talking about it the other day. He was like man my website sucks. I don't want to draw attention to it. I'll be honest with you, I'm not happy with our website. We're doing a full redesign. If you're like that, you're never going to do anything because nobody is ever happy with their damn website.
JAIME TARDY: I hate my website too.
JOHN HALL: We're doing the redesign. There's people out there; don't do that. The thing is that we're doing it the right way. You're not going to get a crazy amount of traction when you're getting those building blocks. You're not going to have thousands of people go to your site and be is like oh wow you got published here, why didn't a thousand people go to my site the next day. Yes, you'll get those early but the thing is very rarely. You need to get the building blocks out there where you're getting that small engaged audience and you're building off that. You need to start doing that.
Don't be scared of your website looking shitty. The thing is that people are going to respect your content. You're going to be able, when you do get that website up that's good, you've got this content you can put on there and say originally seen in this, originally seen in this, originally seen in this and that's different than, I'm not saying the logo, the logo is great to have but actually seeing the content where they can read it and be like oh wow. Don't be scared of that.
The thing is that, you know, down the road where you start getting a lot of traction, I tell clients the first couple of months you're getting in smaller sites. You're getting in sites where there's not a mass that's going to be reaching out to you in the next day but it's so valuable to get those in there because you start gaining that presence, you start getting that audience. If you have a LinkedIn or if you have someplace that's better; we put up personal sites for clients and as long as they have some place that you can direct that looks somewhat credible, it's fine. If it's not, then don't link to the site yet. Just put your name out there and say this is what I do or whatever and then you can always link back.
You can always do different things but don't be scared of it or you're never going to actually move forward and that's a problem. Really just sit down, think about, I mean the website needs to be done. This is my plan for this. So I need to start the website her, this is where I need to end it by. This is when I am going to start publishing getting stuff out there. This is what I am going to do to start building my brand, my authority and this is how it is going to fit together. If you plan it out it makes so much sense, but if you wait to get your website done, there's going to be so many people getting in front of you and this is not going to be a secret for very long.
So many people are catching on to this. Right now we don't have crazy competitors in this very specialized niche but I would say in the next six months there will be other companies doing exactly what we do. That's why we're getting out there as the thought leaders, the innovators and that's what you guys need to do in your areas because other people will jump on it and then you're catching up to their dust.
JAIME TARDY: Practice what you preach. Do you advocate a blog then on your website or a place, because what it sounds like you're talking about is building credibility but also maybe even building a community of people that already know you and like you and trust you and that makes it a lot easier. It's one thing to sort of, like I've been on Yahoo's homepage twice and one time it had no link and maybe people remember and maybe people don't. You know what I mean? Do you really suggest them having a place to go so that way they can keep coming back?
JOHN HALL: Oh yes. One of the big things is I love killing two birds with one stone and a lot of people are like I've always got to write this content on my blog. Why don't you write elsewhere and then you can publish it on your blog and say originally seen here, originally seen in here. The thing is that this is the duplicate content.
JAIME TARDY: The duplicate.
JOHN HALL: Yes, the duplicate content links. If you do a row canonical tag, which look it up, it's called row canonical tag. Google is saying that if you put this in here, it's basically telling Google hey Google I realize this is duplicate content, do not give this credit for link but we're using this because … it actually prevents you from getting dinged for duplicate content. You can do that or you can do it where it's showing the topic and just a paragraph and then it links to the site. Honestly, that's how it should be. That site is publishing you. They should get the credit but on your site you should be able to show I've been originally seen here.
A lot of times our clients are like wait a minute I've been spending all this money doing blog stuff, doing this, but now I can kill two birds with one stone so now I get published here, put it on here originally seen and you get the credibility, you get the audience. It's just a really good way to almost double dip. When you blend that in with your own content on your blog, that's when you can really increase traffic. You can really do some cool things.
JAIME TARDY: I just want to thank you for that. I just had a post go live yesterday on Social Media Examiner, love the site, huge site. I spent hours on that post and I'm trying to send it out to everybody I know on Facebook and Twitter but I am going I feel like I shouldn't put it on my blog, so thank you very much. I really appreciate it. I can always link to it; that's huge.
JOHN HALL: Yes, make sure you do the row canonical tags. You can look it up.
JAIME TARDY: Even if it's just a link over to them. I don't know if they allow you to do it, but I think that's cool. Just to make sure that everybody that's actually going to my blog knows, right, because it's a great article.
JOHN HALL: If you don't link to it, you can actually get in quite a bit of trouble. That's the thing is that's there's certain stipulations where you got to so I mean that's exactly, Social Media and that's a great site to be on so that's cool.
JAIME TARDY: For people that are just starting out, right, how many hours are we talking about here. I mean I know you're not going to know, you can't necessarily talk about ROI or anything like that, but if somebody is getting into it, you know from what you've been doing with clients, how long does this stuff take? How many hours? How much content, that sort of stuff, before you start seeing something as far as results go?
JOHN HALL: It's very time consuming. What we do for a client, what's interesting is if I broke it down to an hour charge per my staff member, the margins aren't crazy, they should be a lot higher and actually I need to look at that. The thing is it is so time consuming. Just because of the fact that developing the content is time consuming. Right now, a good article is going to take at least three hours or something like that. Actually getting someone to edit it just because you don't want to be known for, I mean you are going to be turned down for sending crappy content.
You want to get somebody to edit it. There's that time there and then on top of that, getting the relationships to let them allow you to do it, that's time consuming too, then actually staying up on maximizing the ROI of it. A lot of times, this is the big problem is people get placed and they're like awesome I'm placed. No, most of the value comes after it, what you do afterwards. Like what you just talked about. You're sharing it with your social media, doing a Google real author tag on it.
Google is going to be taking, I mean they are going to be driving people to Google Plus because they created it, they run it, it's the monopoly of search engines type stuff. They are going to, Google author tags, that's something that's new in the last six months where you have to stay up on that stuff to get the full benefit. You can do it, it's just very time consuming. Everybody will tell you that content marketing brand, it's just very time consuming. You can do it, if you have the time. If you don't have the money, then it's worth it. Spend the time doing it.
I would say that I would at least be getting two articles out a month. That's what we say to clients to typically do that. Make an effort to comment on other people's stuff. Get in LinkedIn groups. Get into groups, help people out. That's the thing, if you see an opportunity to give somebody a shout out, in one of your articles, and it makes sense, do that. That's how you form these relationships. I don't just throw someone in there just because oh I had drinks with them last Friday.
Get in people's minds so when they are writing – the other day I actually talked to a guy on a sales call type thing. I rarely take a sales call but I jumped on because I met him at Inc and I really respected him because he was a CEO, had full power and he goes I won't make decisions without including my staff members and I am excited about this. I put him in the Forbes column yesterday. He's not even a client now. The thing is just going out there and building those relationships. People will write about you, as long as you go out there so LinkedIn groups are great. I mean get in there, interact, share your content there.
All this stuff, like I said, it does take time but do it. Make a goal in the next six months. What I can tell you is if you spend six months focusing I would say 10 hours of your time a week. So if you work 40 hours a week doing whatever, spend 50 for six months and you will see a big difference. At that time, you should start seeing some pretty big, you know, I would say you are not going to be crazy ahead but you are going to see a difference.
JAIME TARDY: That's huge. It's funny; I just remember when I started blogging, I was told do it for six months, you might not see anything, find your voice, blah, blah and at the end of six months I was like seriously I have been working so hard on this, this is a little ridiculous, like I think I am going to stop. I've told this story I think before and two days later CNN contacted me. I was like oh wait, okay, never mind.
JOHN HALL: And that's blogging. That just shows you the benefits. I mean that's an awesome thing. For you, especially, I mean blogging, that's one part of it. But just imagine, which you know now, but focusing on not just that but other things. Like you said, you're doing the book. It's unbelievable when you hit it from different angles like blogging. That's kind of in the same realm. What we do is expert contributions which is kind of the blogging but at publications, media outlets and stuff like that. Doing that and then the speaking, the awards, the lists, when you put it all together, that's when you're just like holy crap.
JAIME TARDY: Wow, they're really cool, like you were saying before. It's funny because I know we're running a little late but I have one more question for you, it's all about content. Where do we come up with content? I have lots of friends who are content creators and some of them are great and they have lists and all this stuff but it is this whole thing of constantly having to turn out content. Where do you come up with this stuff and what's the best ideas that you can do?
JOHN HALL: For us, my staff, we have a 16-person writing staff that actually is out there. I can just tell you some of the things that they do – RSS feeds, getting on a bunch of them, reading them and being like okay this is hot, this is new, reading a bunch of publications, finding out what other people are writing about, what direction things are going, getting ideas from there. Really going out talking to people that you know are legitimate experts that are the leading people like hey what is the hot stuff? Editors know what's hot because their readers are wanting it. They are saying how do we do this?
A lot of times we are talking to editors to figure out what are the hot things that people want to talk about. What are the cool things? A lot of times our experts don't even, they're experts but they just don't know that new thing so they're like holy crap I need to learn about it and so they'll go and actually teach themselves, get expertise and then they will be able to write about it once they know it. For your readers, the thing I would say is look at sites you want to be on, find out what's on their, find out what's on their competitor sites. Look at different things that are happening.
If you have a chance to go to a conference like Blog World and you get somebody who is out there talking about it, go do research on top of it and don't just write what they put. Get content around your experience and what they said and put it together, I mean you like this topic but this is my spin on it, this is what I think. There's just a lot of things. You don't want to do, there's only so many times you can do like five things that make your employees happy. Then it starts getting into different things where you're like what's the next new thing?
The one I am working on right now is how content is changing the world and it's different and I'm comparing content to the SEO world, the rep management world, the thought leadership world and saying that this is the direction I think things are going. Those are ways. I mean RSS feeds are great and getting on lists of other people and getting ideas and your masterminds that you guys are all a part of, I mean things like that. That's where you are going to get the ideas from. A lot of times our talent agents get the ideas when somebody is out having drinks with somebody. They just get a text or an email that says I want to write about this, let's develop some questions and I'll answer them. That's how it is.
JAIME TARDY: Do you have any hot tips for us? You said you talk to different editors and stuff, can you tell us anything that's hot right now?
JOHN HALL: It just depends on what industry you're in. We have clients in every single industry so I'd be like well if you're in the generator industry for GE, but really what I can tell you is the hot thing is and I just got back from Inc, Impact, three major conferences in this area, I mean the buzz words right now are mobile, mobile, mobile, video, video, video and content, the quality content exclusive, original content.
When you put those three, those are the things that are just extremely hot right now. I mean mobile, video and content. Things in that area and new develops in there are huge. People want to hear about it, that's the direction everybody is going. That would be my advice. If there's a specific industry, I can tell you, but that would be my general thing of what's hot now.
JAIME TARDY: Perfect; that's awesome. That really helps too because those are sort of the things that you hear floating around but you don't go oh that's a trend and I should be doing something with it so that's awesome. Of course I want to have you back on; hopefully we'll see each other at another conference at some point too. For the last question that I always ask, what's one action that listeners can take this week to help move them forward towards their goal of a million?
JOHN HALL: What I would say and I am going to answer in two parts. First off is get your personal finances in check. I mean the thing is one of the reasons why I have been successful is because I had great parents who actually got me, I had a checking account early, I had all this stuff. I gained financial responsibility at a very early age. That's why I was able to get a loan when I was 18. That was how I was able to do some of the deals that I have been able to do and cash matters. It puts you in a point where you can do the next business thing without begging for money. So whatever you're doing, I mean, if you're building a company, don't go out and spend $800 at a bar. It's stupid. Really be financially responsible, learn, educate yourself on that, there's great resources out there, there are great sites.
There are different things in that area where it can really help you gain financially responsibility because when that opportunity comes, you don't want to say I have no money. That's their first step. If you don't have that covered, it's going to cause problems. There are so many people who say they make millions and their net worth is nothing. I'm just telling you is that I am not someone who is a gazillionaire, I'm someone who has been smart about money and I would not be at the level that I am at if I wasn't financially responsible. There is a lot of my friends who made a ton more money and I have a higher net worth. That's my first thing.
Another thing I would tell is brand equity is so important and everybody says brand, brand, brand, whatever. What I will tell you is that the earlier you start, the better. One of the things I wrote an article about was things I would have known when I started out in business. If I would have known that you could actually do this stuff and actually build your brand equity, I mean people are so impressed if you are a young person and you have all this brand equity built up. I was blown away by it. I was talking to an 18-year-old guy the other day that wrote for the New York Times and I was like dude I am in awe of you. This is really cool. Now I am doing some dealings with him.
That's the thing is that if you do these steps the earlier, I mean even if you're in your 30s and 40s it doesn't matter, get on it and get on it immediately and put the plan in effect. Don't just do it because oh well I heard building your brand is cool so I am going to do it. Actually put the building blocks in place and don't just do it to get like a placement to get here. Actually head towards a goal of I want to be the leading expert in this. This is Point B; I'm at Point A. How do I get there? What do I do? Draw it out, map it out and stick to it.
Don't give up. If there's a barrier in your area, there's always ways to go around barriers. Very rarely do I not figure something out; if I do then whatever, you're going to come across it. But those two things, if you put those two together, I don't know, I mean that's one of the biggest tips to success I've gotten and it has worked out well.
JAIME TARDY: That's awesome. I really appreciate that. I haven't heard personal finance in a while from this question so I am thankful that you're bring it back up. I ask people and some of them make a ton of money and they don't have a million dollar net worth so I think that's huge. Thank you so much. Tell us more about DTA and where we can find you online and if you're on Twitter and Facebook, which I am sure you are because that's what you're talking about the whole time.
JOHN HALL: Yes, absolutely. Really for Digital Talent Agents, if you guys are interested at all, you can reach out to me. I know it's crazy to give out an email address or whatever but I always like pointing people in the right direction. I usually try to get back to my email in 48 hours. You can email me at John@digitaltalentagents.com and I'll try to get back to you, if I can point you in the right direction or get you on the phone with someone at our company that really can guide you and tell you what the next steps would be.
Digitaltalenagents.com, that's our website. You can go through the contact form, reach out on LinkedIn. My staff, my cofounder, all my VPs are obviously on there and have a presence there so you can reach out that way. The main thing is if you're interested in being a thought leader, being an industry expert and you want someone to kind of basically create that strategy, do it for you and actually implement it so you can focus on running your company, then we are a good fit for you.
JAIME TARDY: Awesome. I really appreciate it. I follow you guys on Facebook and stuff and I see pictures of new employee or it's their birthday today. There's all sorts of pictures. John was showing me around the office before. They have like mini golf and a bar and all that fun stuff where he is which is crazy, but I really appreciate you coming on. Hopefully we'll see each other again soon in the future.
JOHN HALL: Yes, I'll look forward to it, Jaime.
JAIME TARDY: Take care.
JOHN HALL: Bye.
Thanks for listening. You can find out more great information like this on EventualMillionaire.com.
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Great interview with John. It’s the first one I’ve listened to from you and I thought you did a great job asking good question. John provided a great many nuggets that fit into helping me structure a new platform I’m putting in place right now. Appreciate cha for the awesomeness!
Perfect! Thanks for being a new listener I hope you get a lot more nuggets in the future too!
Glad you were able to get some tips from the interview. Thanks for the comment.
Awesome interview today with John Hall! Thanks so much! Actually all of your interviews are fantastic. I always get so much out of your podcasts and I really look forward to them. You are a great host and always allow your guests to really get into the good stuff without trying to talk over them or guide them along!
I admire your skills as a host! Thanks for all that you do!
Thanks Walt! If you ever have any suggestions for making it better too, definitely let me know!
Thanks for the comment Walt. Jamie is pretty awesome. It’s easy to do an interview when you have a person like Jamie on the other side of you.
Thank you so much for this. John’s interview reminded me of so many things that I know but have not started or persisted with. It was a really good reminder.
All the best to you!
I agree! I was checking myself and my strategies with what John was saying. It’s always good to hear again even if you know some of it.
Li-ling, a lot of times all it takes is a good reminder to keep things on track Glad I could help out.
That is a great interview. Currently working my way to becoming an expert.
Thanks Cheval! It takes time, but it’s worth it!
just found this site thanks to pat cool site inspiring like smart passive income
Aw thanks Victor! Pat is extremely inspiring, so I love that you think it’s like SmartPassiveIncome
You Always ask the right questions!!! Thank you soooo much!!!!
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