Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Neil Patel, welcome to the Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast.
Neil Patel: Thanks for having me.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I can’t believe that you’re on my podcast, so thank you so much. I have so much respect for your career and your book. We have so much awesome things to talk about and share with my audience, with Intrepid, today. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I’d love to just dive right in by having you talk with us about how you became an entrepreneur. Tell us about your founding story, your journey.
Neil Patel: Sure. I started off when I was 16 years old. I was trying to find a job online, I couldn’t find one. But when I was searching for a job, I realized that these job boards make a lot of money. I created a replica of a site called monster.com. My replica sucked, and I popped it up, and I thought that people would just come and I’ll make money. There’s 2 issues, 1, no one came to the site because I didn’t understand the concept of marketing. 2, there was no way people could accept payment before I’d even have the [inaudible] except payments online. Plus there was nothing that I could even charge for, right? So when I was [inaudible] all these then people are just coming to the site–or no one was coming to the site, and even if I did get someone to the site, there’s no money to be made.
Eventually, I paid marketing firms with all the money I saved up. Wasn’t much. I borrowed some money as well. Didn’t provide any results. I lost everything, so I have no choice but to learn how to do it on my own. Got good at it, started getting traffic. But again, wasn’t making any money. So eventually, I just got into the space of doing something quite simple which is just helping other people get more traffic to their site. That’s how my journey started. From there, I extended into different niches and verticals such as software, and just trying to help people grow their website traffic. Conversion, sales, all that kind of stuff.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Obviously, you’re the cofounder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics. My company, Verde Brand Communications, we love, love, love to use KISSmetrics. Are you running them all at the same time? Do you have multiple companies going?
Neil Patel: Yeah. So KISS I haven’t spent any time on in years. I saw some shares in the business but I haven’t worked at KISS for years. I don’t even know what’s happening with them. Like the latest software update, etc. Of course, I keep up-to-date with company, but I don’t know what feature will come on next week. I keep up-to-date with them on a monthly basis. It doesn’t really take any time. Crazy Egg, day-to-day, the rest of the stuff I have a lot of people who help out. I have different international teams. I have one for Spanish, I have one for Germany, I have one for Brazil. Just different teams working on different things. We have a group of people who just run conferences for us. So it’s just a lot of people doing their thing. Hire smart people who can help you grow faster.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Amen to that. It’s definitely a gap jump, for sure, when you’re kind of growing from solopreneur to building a team. I did have a question before we jump into your book, because I think that’s a really great segue for your new book called Hustle that I would love to talk a little bit about with you. But you’ve been in online marketing for some time now. How have you seen the space change as everything continues to evolve on the web?
Neil Patel: Yeah. So it’s becoming more personalized. It wasn’t as personalized as before, but it could become extremely personalized. What I mean by that is the experience you get that you see right now isn’t what it was like 5, 10 years ago. Before, everything was generalized. Now, it’s not just your location, but they’re trying to figure out what you and your friends like, and show you information based on that. It’s all getting very personalized. It’s going to become even more extreme in the future. Like think of Google right now. Maybe 10 years from now, maybe even sooner, it’ll just be–you don’t search for iPad and then see a listings page. Maybe they just show you what you want.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I wonder if it’ll even happen sooner than that. But you just brought up a really great point that I think would be so relevant for my audience. So as you’re talking about the personalization, I think that where my audience is around that is essentially studying their avatar and understanding how to be very specific to a target audience member as a marketer because I do train brand storytelling and marketing through Intrepid. But you’re talking more about data and algorithms, aren’t you?
Neil Patel: That’s correct, yes.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Yeah. So I’m wondering what that bridge could be from people who are really working hard with their online businesses to actually reach the right people. You teach a lot about search–how are you going to help us do that just as we’re looking at more AI and algorithms and big data. I don’t know if you can even answer that, but you just kind of–I went off on a little tangent here because I’m personally curious about this, too.
Neil Patel: Yeah. I have no idea, to be quite frank. The guys who deal with product, and data scientists, they figure that stuff out. Ideally, the way I believe that marketing should end up working is just you as a consumer, business owner, you just end up popping in your information to the software, and it just makes the changes for you. It’s not anymore where–it goes where it tells you, “Oh, you should make these changes.” Like the data should just be able to say, “All right, these are the biggest things that you need to work on based on priority.” And let’s see if we can automate it and just do it all for you. In my reality or my role, that’s the true definition of marketing automation. You know marketing automation. But it just automates everything from your site–for SEO to conversion optimization to emails etc.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Are you working on such a product right now or a new company like this?
Neil Patel: Maybe.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Awesome. Wow, okay. That’s super, super interesting. So I recently picked up a copy of–well, actually, preordered Hustle when I saw it on Amazon. Again, algorithm found me and knew I would be perfect for your book. So I have a few questions on that. I thought it was a fantastic read. I had to read it the whole way through and then go back and kind of reread certain parts of it because honestly, it challenged the way that I process information, and it really made me kind of step up my game in terms of truly changing the way that I think about success and my very best next step and where I point my energy to. So with that, I just wanted to ask you: why do you feel that the world needed this book now?
Neil Patel: Yeah. If you look at the world right now, the richer getting richer, the poorer getting poorer, the middle class is depleting. And what people feel is unless you were born with the silver spoon or you have a Harvard degree, you’re not going to succeed. That’s a bunch of bull, right? I don’t think that’s the way the world really works. Look at the guy who created WhatsApp. He sold for how many billions? Sure, that’s a rare story. But the point I’m trying to make is there’s a lot of people out there who are doing well in life, making hundreds and thousands, millions of dollars, and they’re not that well-educated nor they grew up with a silver spoon. Money wasn’t just handed to them, they had to fight for it. And we want to teach people how to hack the system and do well and accomplish your goals and dreams without taking that conventional route because the conventional route isn’t working.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Well, I can definitely attest to that. What I really enjoyed so much about the book is how it challenged the way that I have been looking at my two companies, and kind of the way I set up my life, and the limiting beliefs that I’ve had around how I can make what I have working and how I coach other people. So it really was very, very interesting that the lens that you guys provide in this. So before we get into that, I have one other quick question: what was it like to author a book with two other people with obvious, very strong opinions?
Neil Patel: It was good. The strong opinions help weed out the crap. Everyone’s so opinionated in a good way that it doesn’t make it through everyone that doesn’t really get in there.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Was it tough to find a voice or did you guys really have a synthesis of the information as you went into it?
Neil Patel: Yeah, it’s tough to find a voice. It’s really hard when you have multiple co-authors.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: And I guess I have another question because I follow a lot of people and mentors such as yourself. When I see them come out with a book lately, there’s been all kinds of bonuses and launches and videos. Are you marketing the book that way? What’s your plan around getting this in more people’s hands?
Neil Patel: I just believe the book is [inaudible] and then what we do is we try the bonuses and stuff. It’s too much of a pain in the butt. It’s easier to just pay people for email blast.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay. So if you find somebody who has a really perfect audience, you’ll just basically joint venture with them and try to get the book into that audience?
Neil Patel: That’s correct.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay, cool. I just love looking lately at how authors are launching books, so I really wanted to ask. I also have noticed that Rodale has really stepped into an interesting role with some business books that are traditional business books that I definitely classify–and this is a compliment, by the way–your book as such a book. So how was it to work with them? Because they’re not quite like a HarperCollins. I kind of feel like they’re more inclined to support an independent look and feel and group such as the three of you writing this book. Obviously, at Verde, we’ve worked with Rodale for a long, long time on their magazine side–but what was it like to work with them as a publishing house?
Neil Patel: It wasn’t bad. They were actually really easy going. I also didn’t have to deal with them much. My two co-authors dealt with them more than me.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay. And you guys do have a resource site at hustlegeneration.com.
Neil Patel: That’s correct. Yeah. But the thing I found with publishers is they’re simple. They just want to create a good book, something that they’re happy to put their name behind, and they just want to make sure it sells. That’s it. If you can [inaudible] volume, which we did, we hit the New York Times bestseller list. And if you can create a book that they’re happy with, they’re good to go.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: And the New York Times bestseller list still carries a ton of weight, it sounds like.
Neil Patel: I don’t know, but I think so.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Yeah.
Neil Patel: Right, right? I think all over the world, people know what the New York Times bestseller is. We did well. We hit the weekly list two weeks in a row, and then [inaudible], I don’t know what list. There’s so many. And then we hit the monthly list for business books as well.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: So there are a couple points I’d love to have you explain to the audience in your own words. The first is you guys had a really interesting point around working backward from point B to point A as a really key focus point for hustling in this new way that you present. Can you explain that a little bit to my audience?
Neil Patel: Sure. If you’re trying to figure out how to achieve your goal, one of the best ways to do it is–all right, let’s say you have a goal. Then what do you need to do to get to that goal? Break it down into little increments. From there, what you should end up trying to do is just spend 10 minutes. I know it sounds crazy but it’s just 10 minutes trying to do whatever–if you broke down 3 ways you can [inaudible] to reach that goal, just [inaudible] and spend 10 minutes doing one of those things, and see if it helps you get close to your goal. You may not achieve it, and that’s fine, but if you think it’s going to help you get closer the day [inaudible] that is getting you closer, then do more of it. If it doesn’t, then try something else for another 10 minutes. Just really simple. Just 10 minutes at a time, and you can find out that, “Hey, is the action that you’re doing helping you achieve what you want?”
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay, that’s actually really useful. I also just had to ask–sorry, lost my train of thought there for a second. That reminded me of another point that I wanted to ask you. I’ll have my editor obviously edit this part out. Okay, so, I’m going to go ahead and write down a time marker here.
Neil Patel: No problem.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: So going back to your entrepreneurial career, Neil, you were recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama. So obviously, you’ve shown the world, if you will, and you’ve guided so many of us entrepreneurs at a very young age with the companies that you’ve built. And I think you’ve definitely exemplified success. Can you also talk about some of the failures that you fought your way through along the way?
Neil Patel: Yeah. So there was a lot. It had bad investments, lost a lot of my money throughout the whole process, got sued multiple times. There’s just a ton of failures. The biggest thing that I ended up learning throughout the whole process is you’re going to make mistakes as an entrepreneur. But if you can avoid making those same mistakes over and over again, you’ll increase your chance at succeeding. That is one of the best ways to just improve yourself. Make a mistake, sit down, think about it, what could you have done to not make that same mistake again? What could you have done to avoid it? Learn from it, and don’t make that mistake all over again.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: It can be really challenging when we faceplant–when we have people who are kind of in the peanut gallery, judging us for already going forward and trying these crazy business ideas, right? We try not to listen to them, but when we fail, it becomes difficult not to. Did you have your own judgmental people around you who may even have been friends and family that you basically had to ignore, and then start over and rebuild? How did you handle that if you experienced it?
Neil Patel: Yeah. I didn’t experience it too much. What I say is when people tell you no, you can listen to their feedback. You don’t have to take it, but it’s always worth listening to it. And just keep pushing forward. When you have these failures, bad things are going to happen. It’s okay, it happens to everyone. Even the Elon Musk of the world, and Mark Zuckerbergs, they have failures. Within projects. Overall, they’ve succeeded, but within projects, there’ll be some failures. That’s okay, you just keep pushing forward and don’t give up. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you keep pushing forward assuming you’re truly passionate about it, eventually, things should work out.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Well, the passion that you just brought up is a really critical point to my audience because I serve entrepreneurs who choose to work–that build companies around a specific passion. I believe that those companies do things differently, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to your book. We have to really infuse what we do, I believe, in every aspect of our marketing and our content, etc., around trying to align our message to our tribe, if you will. That’s really important for the fate and success of a passion-driven entrepreneur. So that’s a key thing. Like, keeping that passion intact when you’re losing money or you have the judgment around you. I guess, I’m just looking for any tips that you can provide around keeping that intact while you’re kind of going through some of the rough times. For me, it’s just about trying to keep the vision alive, but you know, sometimes it’s really difficult to do that when you’re also listening to people. Kind of say, “Hey, this may not be working, you might want to do something else.”
Neil Patel: Can you repeat that? Sorry about that. You broke up at [inaudible].
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Oh, I did? Okay, I’m sorry. I was going to say–if you have any tips that you can share with my audience around keeping your passion intact from project to project whether you’re experiencing a success or a failure, that would be super helpful. Because obviously, you’ve done it. I mean, you may have had things along the way but you’ve been able to really keep a consistent high level of success, and I think that it’s attributed to the passion that you bring to your businesses.
Neil Patel: Of course. The way you keep your passion is you do what you love. I haven’t found a way to keep igniting this passion. It’s more so if you don’t love what you’re really doing, like truly love, you’ll end up losing the passion, and it’s hard to bring it back. If you have–as Gary Vaynerchuk says, if you don’t like what you’re doing, like even one percent, do something else. And he’s totally right. Because that means you’re not really that passionate. Sure, you may have your down base, that’s normal. But if you don’t really love what you’re doing, you won’t have that passion that just keeps pushing you forward.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: So I have another question that I think you might be the world’s most foremost expert on without maybe even knowing it, but how do you keep the passion intact as everything keeps changing around you? Gary Vaynerchuk would be another great person to ask. It almost seems like people who have succeeded on your level in digital marketing and online marketing thrive on the changes. You seem to just incorporate them and evolve and be nimble.
Neil Patel: Yeah. So here’s the biggest thing. I would say with the passion, the biggest problem that people face is actually not knowing what they’re passionate about. Would you agree with that? You grow up as a kid, you may think that you want to be an astronaut or doctor or whatever it may be, fast forward 20 years, you’re usually not what you wanted to be as a kid, which is normal because reality sinks in. Then you start doing something, and then you just find out that you’re not loving it. So what we say is try different things. When you’re trying to keep going, you’re trying to find your passion, you’re trying to say motivated, try different things, and eventually, you’ll find the route that truly moves you.
So for example, I first started a job board. Hated the job board. But from there, I learned about marketing. Started doing marketing consulting, hated doing consulting for other people. But from there, I learned that companies don’t track their data correctly and optimize their sales with their website visitors. Then created software companies that helped with that solution. Did that, and then I realized that I don’t enjoy the building part of the software company, but I love the growing part. So now, I focus on marketing my own software companies. But it was all through trial and error.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I see. That actually totally makes sense. I’ve definitely seen a similar journey through the last 2 years of my life with Intrepid, but definitely in the last 15 with Verde. That makes total sense. So switching gears a little bit here before we need to wind things down, it’s super important to me that I share with my audience some of your wisdom and expertise around driving eyeballs to content on their blogs and on their websites. Would you mind giving us kind of a primer on maybe what’s working today, Q4 of 2016, for SEO.
Neil Patel: What’s working today is writing really amazing content, not a ton of it, and just building a lot of links to that content. It’s not about who has the most content, it’s who has the best content, and who’s generating the most links.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: And how do you do that without looking like you’re shoving links in your copy?
Neil Patel: Not linking out as in getting links, internal people linking to you. That goes to writing amazing content because the more amazing it is, higher chances that someone’s going to link to you.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay. And I’ve listened to you–I’ obviously follow your work, and I’ve listened to you on some other podcast. Some of the best ways to do that is maybe you find other audiences that might engage with this content to get new eyeballs on it, or is it more about AdWords or Facebook ads or maybe it’s everything, and you can send us to a resource online. Because honestly, this is a tough thing because we put so much time, so much passion and effort into our content. I feel like I actually heard Gary Vaynerchuk say recently that he and his team spend 3 hours creating some content, but then they spend 4x that trying to get eyeballs on it. In my mind as a PR practitioner, that means we push it out. Content is product. And we try and get other people to pick it up and run it. Is that what you’re talking about? Again, forgive me for sounding like I’m not following you, but I just really feel like I don’t understand kind of how to do what you’re saying we should do.
Neil Patel: Yeah, no, you got it right. That’s what I really mean. So if you can get more people who want to promote, share your content, the better off you are. Most people spend all the time writing when they should be spending at least half the time promoting. A simple way to do this is you go to places like [inaudible], or even better also, you have free solution. You go to Twitter, you search at twitter.com, type in URLs of competitors who have content, and see who shared their content. Email those people because you can find their name on Twitter, some of them put their e-mail. But the ones who don’t, that’s fine, you can Google and try to find their email. I can do simple emails like, “Hey Mike, I saw that you tweeted an article called XYZ by author ABC. I actually have a similar article coming out, and mine covers DCE–” or XYZ or whaytever that theirs isn’t covered. “Let me know if you want to see it. Cheers. Neil” It’s that simple. A lot of times, [inaudible] respond back with “Sure.” And then you send it to them and you’re getting more social shares, right? It’s just the pure numbers aimed to doing tactics like that.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay. So now I can see why I definitely need a team. Because honestly, it’s just like me getting it over the line. And really, what matters is having high quality content, and maybe doing fewer posts a month, but spending the time I’d be writing a weekly post, and putting it into this type of a sales tactic or social share tactic.
Neil Patel: That’s correct.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay. Well, that simplifies things. What is the #1 resource that you are offering that my audience can drop in on to learn more about this?
Neil Patel: Yeah. They can just go to neilpatel.com. There’s a free webinar that teaches them how to market their site.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I’ll have all the links in the show notes page. I also wanted to let everybody know that I’m going to be giving away 5 copies of Neil’s new book, Hustle. So that’ll also be in the show notes page. And Neil, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you decided to be on my podcast. There’s a fun story that goes with this. And I emailed you back when you were talking about your book, and you just responded right away. I think that’s also just absolutely unbelievable. The hallmark of a fantastic online business person. So thank you for responding. I’m delighted to share your time and your expertise with my audience. I hope that you have the most success with this book going forward. Know that I’ll be singing its praises from every [inaudible] I can.
Neil Patel: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay.