For everything we’d do differently if we started all over again…the best thing we did RIGHT was that we got started.
THE STARTING POINT
Our idea was brutally simple – travel the world for 24 months AND build the best PowerPoint training website we possibly could to fund the process…fingers crossed the funding part would happen sooner rather than later.
Our website challenge was that we were starting at ground zero:
- Zero web presence
- Zero web marketing experience
- Zero subscribers
- Zero hesitation (thankfully!)
How could we be so completely under-experienced (and painfully aware of it!) and still have the courage to pull the trigger? Well this quote from a fortune cookie set us straight:
“Many a false step was made by standing still.”
– Fortune cookie via Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Workweek”
With the goal set, we spent the next ten months making the big decisions:
- We decided on a 24 month trip (12 months seemed too short)…
- We started getting rid of just about everything we owned…
- We set “quit our job” dates….
- We told everybody we knew about our plans so that we couldn’t back out …
- We researched the heck out of how to do EVERYTHING!
GOING WITH VIDEO TO BUILD OUR BRAND
Going with video was a no-brainer for us since our topic was teaching busy professionals how to use PowerPoint (like a boss!).
But it also meant an additional thing we knew NOTHING about…so chalk that one up on the board of no experience and a steep learning curve!
One other thing we did right was quickly settling on Camtasia for all our videos from the beginning.
With all the different things we needed to build our site, it was easy to get overwhelmed and get analysis paralysis. We waffled back and forth about everything (name, logo, domain, theme…ugh!) and in hindsight, we wasted a lot of precious time and energy on that.
So having snagged some good advice early on about going with Camtasia saved us a bunch of time and headache!
If you’re considering using video too, here are three things that we’ve discovered along the way that hopefully inspire you to give it a shot:
#1: Perceived difficulty – The beauty of video is that it’s hard enough that most people don’t do it, yet it’s easy enough that anyone (like us) can do it…so it’s a simple way to differentiate yourself right off the bat.
#2: Relative experts – Let’s face it, most videos around the web suck…so with just a little bit of effort (you don’t have to be George Lucas or get a degree in videography) you can create RELATIVELY high quality videos.
#3: Two birds with one stone – If you shoot video for your blog posts you can easily double up and build a YouTube channel at the same time (we should have done both A LOT sooner), which helps generate traffic faster.
If you also have zero video experience (like we did), the only thing to do is to bite the bullet, begin shooting videos and live with the fact that you will eventually look back at your first videos and think they suck. That’s just how it is.
CHOOSING A VIDEO STYLE/VOICE
The next thing we decided on was a video style and a tone of voice. As the field we chose was already littered with competitors (with a lot more official credentials to call on), it was important to us that we have a distinct style so that our content was unmistakably ours.
So after watching videos around the web and practicing on our own (kudos to our friends who slogged through our first videos and gave us valuable feedback) we boiled our secret sauce down to:
- Fun and energetic. PowerPoint is boring enough as it is.
- Three to five minute clips. People already have short attention spans AND it made it slightly less daunting for us to get started.
- Polished and edited videos. We wanted to look sharp.
You can see our very first 2 minute video that started getting traction on YouTube below (it hasn’t been nominated for any Emmy awards yet…).
Note: We got our logo and the cool little logo animation you see at the beginning of the video designed for us for about four hundred bucks on crowdspring.com.
Can’t see the video? Watch here on YouTube.
GOT VIDEO, NOW WHAT?
If you build it, they will come…right? Wrong!
If you’re starting out (or thinking of starting out)you need to figure out who EXACTLY you’re targeting and how you are going get in front of them once you have your videos (or even better yet, BEFORE you even begin creating your videos).
What seems SOOO obvious now was complete news to us when we got started and even several months deep we were still living in the “field of dreams”…I did say there were things we’d do differently!
Our current strategy for snagging organic Google traffic (the free stuff) is creating blog posts that include:
- A YouTube how-to video (YouTube traffic)
- A full step-by-step written version of the tutorial (Google traffic)
- A full step-by-step visual tutorial with screenshots for each step (Google images traffic)
We went back and forth between the different formats, trying different things, but it wasn’t until we started combining the three types of content together that Google started sending people our way.
I still remember the first day we had two organic Google searches land on our site and I couldn’t believe it! I remember being extremely impressed by the PATIENCE those two must have had, thinking of how many Google pages they had to have crawled through to find our site!
That number slowly grew over the next six weeks to a high of 103 organic searches to our site in a single day (yes, we are still a tiny site :)).
That said, building out around this posting strategy appears to be working and if we continue to hustle (we still have lots to do), we think we can hit a thousand people sometime over the next six to eight months as we continue to travel!
STAY FLEXIBLE AND KEEP MOVING
One of the key things we promised ourselves as we started out was that no matter what happened, we would be flexible and pivot if need be. Since the lifestyle is the dream we are chasing, we’ve adopted the mentality of “try different things, see what works, and then do WAY more of that!”
There have been a lot of tough days when things don’t work out nearly as fast as you’d like them to, but when you’re staying flexible, learning along the way and adjusting as needed…failure seems impossible.
About the Author
Taylor Croonquist is a co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training which aims to make working professionals at least 3x Faster at PowerPoint.