Making Money with Online Videos (Podcast) | Ep. #090

The Hartford

Have you ever wondered whether it’s possible to make money with online videos? While the process of monetizing your videos is fairly simple, you’ll need to generate a large enough subscription base to transform them into a thriving online business.

In episode #90, Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks discuss how to effectively grow your virtual business using digital marketing and social media.

Executive Summary

0:40—Today’s Topic: How Do I Develop a Business with My Online Videos?

2:20—Once you invest in a platform that will enable you to sell your products or services, you will need to invest in a digital marketer who can help you draw an audience to your subscription base.

3:49—You can either hire a marketer who is certified in Google Ads to help drive traffic to your site or you can become Google Ads certified yourself.

4:50—If you would prefer to market your business on social media, create a page for your business on one or more platforms.

8:03—Business owners who want to stand out on a more visual platform, like Instagram, need to be as innovative and entertaining as possible.

11:17—Gene stresses the importance of using employee vacations to gauge how much each individual actually contributes to your business.


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Elizabeth: Okay. Welcome back to the Small Biz Ahead Podcast, I’m Elizabeth Larkin, the editor of Small Biz Ahead, and I’m here with small business owner and expert …

Gene: Oh, and contributor to Small Biz Ahead.

Elizabeth: And contributor to Small Biz Ahead, Gene Marks.

Gene: That’s right. Thank you. Glad that everybody could join us today.

Elizabeth: We’re happy to have you here. Alright, we’re going to jump right into our question. This is from Brett in Boston, Massachusetts. Fellow New Englander. And Brett writes:

“I work as a personal trainer and I absolutely hate it. I have an …”

You know what? We’ve gotten other questions from personal trainers saying they hate it, which is odd, because whenever I meet them-

Gene: Odd? Wouldn’t you hate it? Who wants to be a personal trainer? And then you have to like touch other people when they’re working out, it’s gross.

Elizabeth: It’s your worst nightmare, yeah.

Gene: Oh my god.

Elizabeth: So, Brett writes:

“I have an online website that has daily workout videos and members can sign up for $10 a month and get their workout on. I have enough money saved up to support myself for six months, but my online business isn’t making enough right now to support me. It is making some money though. When can I quit my job?”

Gene’s face is like, wait, is that the end of the question?

Gene: Yeah, when can I quit my job? Okay.

Elizabeth: So basically he wants to transition his business from being in-person to 100% online, which I think is a great idea.

Gene: I think it’s great as well. I think that’s really cool. I mean, listen, we live in a capitalist, so to do this will take some capital. So Brett, you’ve saved up six months worth of income, so that’s great, because you’re going to need it.

Elizabeth: Yeah, good for you.

Gene: If you’re going to want to invest in this venture that will hopefully then provide you with a livelihood where you can quit your job. And by investing I mean this, I haven’t been to your website so I can’t tell, but it seems like you’ve got it set up where you can collect your payments from people, so you’ve gotten over that big hurtle before they actually watch your videos …

Elizabeth: $10 a month.

Gene: It’s a $10 a month, they subscribe, they get the videos. So it seems like you’ve got that whole platform worked out, so that’s really good news. So now what you’ve got to invest in, is you’ve got to invest in a good person that will help you draw visitors to that site, and entice them to sign up.

Elizabeth: Also, $10 a month seems really cheap.

Gene: Well, it’s an online video. So, I’m not so sure that is so … I mean, you know, what are you getting? You know, you’re getting new instructions from this person. I mean, maybe you can get away with charging a little bit more, but it’s certainly …

Elizabeth: Yeah, I would go up to like 19, because if you think about it, like let’s say you have a gym membership. A monthly membership ranges anywhere from $30 to $120, so you can’t charge $30.

Gene: That seems like a lot. By the way, you bring up a really good topic. I mean, pricing this is interesting, because I don’t know, you know, a lot of these places, LA Fitness and some of the other gyms, they charge like $20 a month, $25 … Yeah, some of them are pretty inexpensive to join. And a lot of people will be like, you know, “I could pay almost the same amount to join LA Fitness, why would I pay the same amount just to get online videos?”

Elizabeth: Because you’ve got to drive to LA Fitness, you’ve got to go into the locker room and make small talk with people.

Gene: Yeah, I don’t know, it’s still … So the pricing issue is definitely one issue. The bigger issue though, is getting eyeballs into your site and getting people signing up.

Elizabeth: So you’re recommending he hires a marketer.

Gene: Yeah, not necessarily a marketer itself, but somebody who is experienced in digital marketing. And your goal is to drive people to whatever your landing page where people can sign up for your monthly training videos. You want to drive traffic there. So you’ve got a couple of different choices. Number one is, you can go out and look for somebody, you could Google somebody, or go onto sites like Upwork or Fiverr, that we’ve spoke about before, where you’re looking for somebody that’s maybe Google Ads certified.

There’s a certification for doing Google Ads. People like go through training and know how to place them and the idea there is they use a combination of search engine optimization technology and advertising on Google, to create ads to track people around and draw their attention back to your landing page where they can sign up for the monthly videos.

So, you have to invest in that and then you have to track it, and unless you want to do it yourself and become Google Ads certified and honestly Brett, maybe it is, depending on how much time that you have, considering it’s only you and you know, what your hours are with your job, maybe you want to get really familiar with Google AdWords and a little bit of search engine optimization for your site so that it draws that many visitors.

So that’s one road that you can take. The other road that you can take is just straight social media. So, you know, whenever small businesses ask me, you know, “What social media platform is the best?” There’s no argument, Facebook is the best. There’s no argument. Facebook …

Elizabeth: Not for every business though.

Gene: Facebook is the best. Facebook has 70 million small business pages on Facebook. And Facebook is, by the way, this year, they are investing in hundreds of millions of dollars into enticing more and more small businesses, giving them credits in education, they’re going on a year long tour to draw people to advertise on Facebook and use the … It is the site. And my point is, is that Brett, if you have a good active Facebook page, and you pay, because it’s pay to play in the world of social media, to promote posts that you make having to do with physical exercise and you know, the kind of training stuff you do, to again draw people to your landing page on your website to sign up for it.

Now by the way, Facebook also has on Facebook Messenger, the ability to accept payments. So, if somebody does express an interest in, “Yeah, I’m interested in your business.” You can literally have an automatic message go back out to them say, “Sure, if you’d like to sign up, give us your credit card.” Right on Facebook Messenger. And then it will redirect them back to your site so they can start seeing your videos.

So I would go with either, because I don’t know if you can do it all, because it’s a lot. But either Google AdWords, or Facebook advertising, to draw visitors. What were you going to say?

Elizabeth: So, I have a trainer that I follow on Instagram, and if you already have the videos done, so you’ve already done a lot of the pre-work. You’ve got the video, studio set-up probably, you’ve got your video camera, obviously you know how to edit videos. So what this trainer does, and all organically, she doesn’t put any money behind this, she just puts short … You can put up to a one-minute video on Instagram.

Gene: I love where you’re going with this.

Elizabeth: One-minute videos, like a couple times a week, of her longer videos. So it’s like a one-minute … because one minute is not enough for … I mean, no one is going to sit there and click like repeat, repeat, repeat, to get like a half hour workout from it. So it just entices you to sign up.

Gene: You know, it’s funny that you bring that up. So I play squash two or three times a week, and I follow this site, it’s @squashskills, on Instagram. They do the exact same thing, they put, like this trainer, they put like a minute little instruction thing, which is like just sort of wets your appetite, and then they’re like, “If you want more, sign up for our online, you know, instruction or whatever, to go back to it.”

And I think it’s a great idea to do because there’s a percentage of people that will do that and Elizabeth, I mean, it’s really great advice because Instagram, first of all …

Elizabeth: Is owned by Facebook.

Gene: It’s owned by Facebook, so you have a lot of integration between, you know, messaging and integrating it with your website, number two, obviously it’s an enormous platform with a billion people on it a day, it’s extremely popular. And Brett, what you’re doing is very visual, it’s not like you’re selling, you know, accounting services, like a video of somebody working on a spreadsheet, you’re actually doing like physical … So you can actually show stuff on a cool Instagram video.

My only other advice to you on Instagram, and sometimes people take this … You know, like I remember my sister, I gave her similar advice and she was like, “You’re out of your mind,” but on Instagram there’s a lot of noise out there and the people that get the most attention are the ones that are as much outlandish as they can be, or as much innovative. Doing something really, you know, not crazy but something that stands out. So I don’t know, maybe you do your classes and you’re dressed in like, you know, I don’t know, in some goofy outfit or something, or wearing a wig, or some unique thing that you can have fun with but you can be like the dopey guy, doing it online as a joke. Something that people get a little bit of a giggle out of, you’ll attract more views that way.

Elizabeth: Yeah, and you don’t have to do that every time, actually.

Gene: No, you don’t.

Elizabeth: This trainer did one of her workouts last year during the holiday season, she did it wearing the same footy pajamas that we’re in “A Christmas Story”.

Gene: Right.

Elizabeth: And it was so funny.

Gene: It’s funny, yeah, so if you can try and make it a little bit of funny and entertaining, because Instagram, it’s not a business platform, it’s an entertainment platform.

Elizabeth: So, you’re trying to get your sister’s a doctor right?

Gene: Right. So my advice to her, she is growing a following on Instagram, thank you very much. And I told her to get on Instagram.

Elizabeth: Because of you?

Gene: Yeah, because she didn’t know whatever, and she has a little practice in South Philadelphia. But my initial advice, which she shot down, was saying like, look if you don’t have a doctor, you know, you should have like disgusting wounds and like, you know, photos or videos of like open surgeries …

Elizabeth: I love that.

Gene: And like with some medical comment on it, like you know, “This wouldn’t happen to you if you ate your vegetables.” You know, that kind of thing. Like something crazy.

Elizabeth: Oh, I don’t like surgery, but wounds, like oozing wounds. Oh, I love that.

Gene: Yeah, like horrible, disgusting stuff. But as she’s a doctor, she could come up with an angle to it and she’s like, “No. I’m not going to do that.” So instead what she did is she like posts like photos of healthy foods and snacks and things like that.

Elizabeth: Boring.

Gene: Boring. Boring. But it’s working, she’s attracting people, people like it.

Elizabeth: I’d much rather see a wound that’s like half purple, half like yellow, with like green puss coming out of it.

Gene: Yeah, she could corner the market, she could just be like that person on Instagram. “Oh yeah, have you ever followed that person on Instagram with the disgusting injuries? You’ve got to follow that, she’s a doctor too.” And that’s what makes it funny. You know?

So it’s like, for Brett, “You ever follow that guy who does the physical training except he does the entire thing in like, you know, in an elf’s costume?” Or something like that. That’s funny, right? “Yeah, check him out.” That’s what Instagram is good for, because it’s entertainment.

Elizabeth: We’re going to open this up again. If you have a business and you’re interested in doing videos, comment on the show notes of this episode and Gene and I will give you advice or react to whatever you’re thinking of doing. Because Gene can sit here and come up with these insane ideas all day long. Not just oozing wounds. Even more.

Gene: Yeah, I’m not going to say they’re good ideas, but I’ll come up with something.

Elizabeth: Alright, we’ll be right back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.

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Elizabeth: And we’re back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.

Gene: So, my Word of Brilliance, Elizabeth, is fajitas.

Elizabeth: Again, with just one word. Crazy.

Gene: It’s one word. It’s one word. The story is this.

Elizabeth: I love fajitas.

Gene: Yeah, well you’ll probably like this story as well. This actually happened, Elizabeth, in Texas, and it happened at a county juvenile justice department in Texas. I’m not even going to give the name, I wrote about this online if you want to really find out about this. But anyway, one of the employees there was found to have stolen 1.2 million dollars worth of fajitas from the juvenile detention center. Now you might say, “What is going on here?” Apparently …

Elizabeth: Did he sell them to Chili’s?

Gene: Well, he sold them to somebody. Here’s what he did. He was in the purchasing department for the detention center, in charge of buying, procuring stuff, including for the cafeteria, and what he did is over a period of 10 years, he would purchase fajita meat from a supplier and when the supplier would arrive with the fajita meat, he would go out there and greet and you know, take the fajita meat, put it in his own car. This went over 10 years. And then he would bring it home and then he would sell the fajita meat to somewhere else.

So in other words, he was having the county pay for the fajita meat, he was accepting the fajita meat on his own-

Elizabeth: That’s a long game.

Gene: It’s a long game. And then he had customers who bought it. Who knew it was America, people buy fajita meat. He went out and he was selling the fajita meat on the side.

Elizabeth: That really puts me off fajitas. First of all, thinking about fajitas-

Gene: Gross.

Elizabeth: -and like the meat in boxes and getting them from …

Gene: The back of this guy’s car in Texas. I mean, like sitting out there. Whatever. The guy made 1.2 million dollars. The real reason why I tell this story has nothing to do with fajitas or fajita meat, I don’t even like fajitas to be honest. Alright? But it’s this.

Elizabeth: You’re un-American.

Gene: No. Fajitas are Mexican. Here’s the thing with this guy. Here’s how he was found out. He was sick one day, he didn’t come into work.

Elizabeth: You always say, it’s yeah …

Gene: He didn’t come into work. And you know what happened? He didn’t realize it, but a truck load of fajitas arrived for the guy and whoever was filling in for him for the day was like, “We didn’t order any fajitas.” And the truck driver was like, “Yeah you do, you order these like once a month. I always bring these fajitas to the guy here.”

Well as it turned out, they found out that the scam was going on and the guy was arrested or whatever.

Elizabeth: 10 years later.

Gene: It was 10 years later this was going on. Now, besides the fact that they had horrible internal controls at this facility, right? Typical government run, you know. You never have the same person who orders for something, approve the payment for something, and also receives the something. You need a segregation of duties, and that’s a standard thing. But even in a small business, sometimes you really can’t even have that. I mean, you know, you have 10 people, you have the same person that’s got to wear a different hat.

So, we’ve talked about this before, but I’m sorry, I’ve got to reiterate it again. All of your employees have to take vacations. Right? When your employees are out of the office and somebody is filling in for them, that’s when you find out if something goofy is going on.

Elizabeth: How do you feel about two-week vacations?

Gene: That’s a long time. I mean, when you say … When you’re requiring a vacation, the length of time is up for grabs.

Elizabeth: Because I really feel like in order to find someone out, you’d need to get them out of the office for two weeks.

Gene: Two weeks is … Well, it’s arbitrary number. I mean, I don’t know if you need …

Elizabeth: That’s what they do on Wall Street.

Gene: Is that right?

Elizabeth: Executives are legally forced to take 10 business days out of the office. Can’t look at their black … I mean they all do anyway, but can’t look at their Blackberry.

Gene: Their Blackberrys? What year is this? They’re looking at their Blackberrys?

Elizabeth: People still use BlackBerrys.

Gene: What year is this? No, nobody’s using Blackberrys. But I get what you’re trying to say.

Elizabeth: Really? Yeah.

Gene: Okay. So they have to take two weeks out of the office.

Elizabeth: God, how old am I?

Gene: Blackberrys. So they have to take the two weeks out of the office, and I get that. Small business, that’s like a little … That’s a lot. You know, three, four days, or … I mean, listen if you’re a Wall Street …

Elizabeth: Three or four days.

Gene: I think three or four-

Elizabeth: A week.

Gene: Three or four days, if you have somebody filling in for somebody, could be enough time to find out.

Elizabeth: But are you going over to that employee and nudging them like, “Look into what they’ve been doing.”

Gene: No, no, because you don’t want to assume that the people are …

Elizabeth: So you’ve got to catch … My point is you’ve got to catch them at the right time.

Gene: Yeah.

Elizabeth: So it’s three or four days out of month.

Gene: It depends on the size of the company and the number of transactions they have or whatever, so maybe you’re right, maybe you do need a full week.

Elizabeth: You need a full week.

Gene: Yeah, two weeks is a long time though, I mean, Wall Street I get it. But you know, that’s a long time for a small business. Fajitas.

Elizabeth: There’s a really good episode of House about this topic.

Gene: Really?

Elizabeth: Do you ever watch House?

Gene: No, but I love the name of the actor that’s in it. I forget the guy. He’s great.

Elizabeth: I can’t believe you haven’t watched House, you would love House.

Gene: I’m sure I would.

Elizabeth: Yeah, it’s so good. But, I don’t want to spoil anything, but in one of the later seasons, they find out that one of the women who’s working in the pharmacy has been ordering like extra oxycodone or something.

Gene: Right, yeah, right.

Elizabeth: And yeah, it gets real.

Gene: Okay. But they find them, and whenever it’s … This guy with the fajitas, he was found because he was … I love reading stories like this.

Elizabeth: And she was out sick, that’s what happened.

Gene: There you go.

Elizabeth: She was out sick.

Gene: There you go.

Elizabeth: Okay, we’ll be back in a couple days with our next episode, which will be about expanding your business through franchising.

Gene: And our next Word of Brilliance, tacos I’m thinking.

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