Building a Trustworthy Brand in the Digital Business Environment

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Loren Baker:  Welcome to today’s episode of Search & Social, a Rainmaker.FM podcast.  This is Loren Baker with Foundation Digital, and with me today I’m going to have none other than Chris Brogan, a huge social media and business influencer who many of you may have heard of before. Chris and I are going to be discussing the importance of owning your content.  Really owning your sites and building a hub, so to speak.  A hub, which, then you can send that content and send those pieces out to various different platforms and tools, whether it be email, social media…in the case of search and link building, sending that content out to get links back, and citations to your site.  We’re also going to talk about, really, the growth of email and what we’ve both learned being small business owners.  And how to implement that into the voice of your business.  And with me, on today’s episode of Search & Social, I have none other than Chris Brogan.  Chris Brogan, welcome to Search & Social.

Chris Brogan:  Thanks, Loren.  Thanks for having me.  Glad to be here to chitty-chat with you and your gang.

Loren Baker:  Awesome.  Awesome.  Yeah, I really appreciate you taking the time to jump on the podcast today. And, you know…for some reason, well, probably for a multitude of reasons, when people ask me, you know, “Who is one of the top social media experts out there?”  Or, you know, social media authors, or marketing authors.  Your name always comes up.  But I was doing a little bit of background information about you, and it’s really hard to kind of put you in a box, so to speak.  You do so many things.  So…instead of having me introduce you based upon what my research and everything else has shown, and how I followed you over the years, I would like for you to just, you know, introduce yourself to the group, if you can.

Chris Brogan:  Sure.  So…and I would…I’m glad you did, because I would probably never say I do much with social specifically.  I just use that tool the same way salespeople use phones, and hopefully they’re not called telephone experts.  So what I do is I run a company called Owner Media.  And what we do is we help people with simple plans for business success.  So that’s basically training and education-type stuff.

Mostly, what I’ve been working on lately, in the last handful of years, is really solving for one specific question, which is…in a world where we could buy from anyone, why should we buy from you?

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  So almost the opposite of how people are working through the mechanized stuff that they have to deal with, you know, like…good search rankings and all that, I’m trying to help figure out…in a world where people can on Amazon and the top reviewed thing is the highest thing, how does somebody who’s like, number 3 or 4 in a category still reach the people who probably still wanna reach them and enjoy them?

Loren Baker:  Which is rather interesting, because, like, it seemed like in the nineties and the early two thousands, I guess, there was this wave of total technology and automation, and let’s get everything online.  E-commerce online.  Let’s make it as easy as possible.  But, to an extent, for a number of businesses out there, that kind of human interaction component was lost, and the…I guess…not just the human interaction, but also, like, you know.  Who is the person behind this business?  Who is the individual? What’s the voice, type thing.  And then really, how to build trust when you don’t have a handshake or a face-to-face meeting.

Chris Brogan:  Yeah, I mean, one of the things that just continues to get me.  This is a business-to-business and business-to-consumer story, but…how do we do something with the people who feel a sense of loyalty and who want to stay connected to something, that…you know, where they wanna do business.  You know, for instance, I’m forever stunned that the…the concept of loyalty programs is so far afield from what…what really constitutes loyalty.  It’s really day and night from what, you know, technology says…you know.  I have this little rinky-dink card that I stick in that tells me that after every 10 times, I might get, like, a free bottle of water at a hotel.  Versus, you know, out of all the multitudes of places where I could spend my money, how would I choose to wanna spend it all with you?

And so, I just think that…you know.  As other people have really tried hard to solve these, “How do we automate?” “How do we get more robotic?”  I’m thinking…there’s this phrase we use around Owner a lot called, “To automate is human.”  And so we think that automation is great, as long as it serves the opportunity to have as much possible contact with customers and buyers as possible.

Loren Baker:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  So…you said that social media is basically a tool or a vehicle that you utilize, right?  From a sales, or business, or marketing perspective.  I take it email would be as well, and you’re…you’re a great scribe of email newsletters, by the way. I really enjoy everything I get in my inbox.  For a business owner starting, what’s the first step?  ‘Cause I can imagine that it can be quite overwhelming, especially if you don’t have, like, marketing teams to help you with this, or whatnot.  So typically, what’s the first step in the overall process?

Chris Brogan:  You know, it’s changed a little bit over time, and I’ll tell you.  With regards to email, about 78% of my revenue comes from email.  So I’m forever telling people, “Hey, look.”  Everyone asks, you know, if you had one regret for how you ever did everything you did.  That’s my regret, is I didn’t really start cultivating and nurturing a community via that platform a lot sooner.  If I…you know.  If somebody came and knocked on the door, and said, “Hey Chris.  I’m looking to start up whatever business.  I wanna sell air conditioning hoses to air conditioner installer guys.”  I was just trying to think of the most BORING possible business I could come up with.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  I’d be like, “Oh, well, you know what I would do.  Is I’d put up a website with some kind of blogging software stuck to it.  I’d probably use Brian Clark’s Rainmaker, just ‘cause it’s all in one, and I’d pop open, I don’t know, MailChimp, or something.  And I would start trying to acquire names of people that I thought I could serve.  So I’d try to write stuff that was interesting to that kind of air conditioner installer, and I would see if I could get him onto a list that I could talk to him intimately via the inbox whenever it suited us both.  And I would try to figure out, “What could I do to best serve this guy well beyond the hoses that I sell?”  And off I’d run.  And I may or may not pick some social network to get on, but…you know, frankly, I’m just seeing less and less yield and return from all the various social platforms without spending money.  And you know, it’s just because everyone’s trying to automate and robotize their experience there, so there’s almost nobody left as a real-life human.

Loren Baker:  That’s so funny, too, how everything goes back to email.  Because, I mean, you’ve been around probably as long as I have, or vice-versa, and you know, email marketing is really one of the first things that I ever started doing, back in the day.  Cultivating that list.  Writing the newsletter.  You know, reading, like, Corey Rudl’s sales letter techniques, and stuff like that.  Not necessarily implementing them to the tee, but, like, you know.  Back in the day, like, email was THE thing.  And I guess email is a dinosaur, but it’s a fast-moving, ever-evolving, learning velociraptor, right?  Because as…as things change and as everything has changed, it’s like there’s that core that’s there.  And then also, like, I was running a Facebook ad campaign the other day, and setting up Facebook custom audiences, which are essentially based upon profiles built from your cultivated email list, which is…

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  …pretty rad, you know?  It all kinda comes back to email at the end of the day.

Chris Brogan:  Yeah.  You know, I think it’s…it’s been an interesting time, really.  It’s this whole scenario where everything is coming together a little nicer, and for everyone…you know, I think, Loren, the people who are having probably the most trouble in this environment are the people who are trying to follow every trend as it comes along.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  I think there’s a lot of opportunities to fall into a hole, and I think there’s a lot of opportunities to really chew up a lot of calories and time, you know, just doing whatever XYZ guru has gone off and told you to do.  And when I tell people this, my God, don’t follow everything I do.  You’re gonna fall in all the same holes that I do.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Chris Brogan:  And, you know, try to figure out what’s gonna work or what’s not.  Wait ‘til I tell you, “Hey, this will work.”  And then test it for yourself, and if it doesn’t stop doing it, but…you know, to your point…I mean, yeah.  It’s…a long, long time ago, the way we looked at email was very different, and then blogs came along, and there was this sorta sense like, “Oh wait, I guess we don’t need email anymore.”

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  Oh, my gosh.  Nothing was more wrong.  But, you know, I did follow that for a long time.  I was like, “Man, I’ve got this huge subscriber base on blogs.”  And in an instant, you know, it didn’t matter.  And so…that’s my…my only, like, I said.  My only business regret is that I didn’t do more with email sooner.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Chris Brogan:  But it’s nothing…the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is today.

Loren Baker:  Well, the funny thing too is that, like…when I had originally set up…I set up FeedBlitz probably about 10 years ago, right?  A decade ago.  You ever use FeedBlitz, by the way?

Chris Brogan:  Yeah.  Yeah.

Loren Baker:  So, remember when it started?  It was just basically an RSS feed, right?


Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  It would just take an RSS feed from your blog, and then send it to a subscriber base.  So I had the little box to subscribe on the blog, and I just basically forgot about it.  I just…’cause it was a “set it and forget it” type setup.  And I’m like, “Hey, I’ll put a little FeedBlitz subscriber box on the sidebar.”  And it stayed there for years and years and years and years.  And the next thing I know, there’s this group of 7 or 8 thousand individuals that get a FeedBlitz email every day in their inbox from SEJ.  And it was just…it made it easier to build the newsletter that we have now, based upon that.  But it was something that I just implemented and then had totally forgotten about, because I…I agree.  I did not have email at top of mind after blogging started.  And…you know.  How do you get people to your blog? How do you get the right people to your blog?  How do you get the right people to your blog who are going to share that content with the friends that they’re in a chamber of commerce with, or with the friends that they know from the business world.  Or the friends that may buy the same pair of jeans, right?

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  I mean, that’s your…that’s your fanbase.

Chris Brogan:  Yeah.  And, you know, the scenario there…and as time has gone on regarding things like social, it’s amazing.  So, the way my newsletter works is…there are no social sharing buttons.  You cannot go find it somewhere online.  And once a week, I’ll get three to five people that’ll say, “Hey, how come?”  And I’ll say, “You know why?  Because I want you to share it with the absolute best social network that I can possibly ever have access to.  Press “forward” on your email client, and send it to a couple of people by name.”

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  And…to me.  That’s always gonna win me a far better subscriber than any other thing.

Loren Baker:  It’s a warm introduction, right?


Chris Brogan:  Yeah.  Well, and…you and I probably do the same sort of thing.  We…you know, a friend comes along and they share something, we hit the “share” button.  We don’t even always read it.  I would say we probably don’t often read it, these days.  We just hit “share” because it’s somebody we know and trust, and we stick it along.  So there’s a bunch of robot behavior going back and forth.  So throwing my newsletter into that same mix, people are gonna go, “Ah, this is totally worth reading!” and no one’s gonna do it.  Whereas if someone forwards something to you directly and they’re like, “Oh, I just read this, and it’s totally what you were just asking me the other day.”  I…you know.  That’s a warm introduction.  That’s like old-day handshaking, you know, 1900’s era stuff, and I think it’s really gonna make a lot more business.

Loren Baker:  Yeah, it really is.  And it’s getting back to…you know, people remembering your name.  I have two stories I wanna tell you.  One is social media-oriented.  Back when I used to live in Tampa, Florida, I was up one night, and I was…this is, like, kinda when Facebook started to get popular.  And I was just, like, “liking” all of these local area restaurants, and stuff like that. I’m like, “Hey, I can like pages now.  This is so cool.”  Right?  People were building business pages.

Chris Brogan:  Mhmm.

Loren Baker:  I’m liking them, liking ‘em, liking ‘em, and I didn’t think twice about it.  So about two or three days later, I walk into this restaurant with my wife, and…the host literally said…I’m not kidding.  He literally said, “Welcome to our restaurant, Loren Baker. It’s great to have you.”  And I am, like…I was floored. I’m, like, what’s going on here?  Like, you know.  Is this, like, some joke?  Someone I work with kinda set this up?  You know, yadda yadda yadda.  And the guy’s, like, “No, I just spent an hour today looking at the profiles of all of the folks that “like” our Facebook page.  Our restaurant Facebook page, that are in the area.  And it just happened to be that I was just looking at yours, you know, not too long ago, and I recognized your face and name.”  And it was amazing.

Now, on the flipside of that, too…currently, I’m a small business owner, right?  I work out of my…I have a virtual company.

Chris Brogan:  Mhmm.

Loren Baker:  We utilize a UPS store.  It’s great.  You have a great address.  You have great service.  They’ll call me and let me know when something comes in my box, everything else.  So that’s one thing, right?  I got the guy from the UPS Store calling me to let me know when I have mail.  But, two, when I walk in, they’re like, “Hey Loren, how’s it going?”  And it’s that…you have personalization that is sincere.  And then you have automated personalization, which can be kind of, like, “Eh, you know, I can tell that this email has a merge field all over it.”  Right?  But it’s…it’s almost like…the restaurant example, and why I’m bringing this up, it’s like a merging of that old school, “Hey, I really trust you and know you.”  You know, “Welcome.”  It was weird when it happened at the time, but I’ll never forget it.  And I went back there multiple times solely because of it.

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  And then you have, like…you know.  Your handshake and everything else at the end of the day, and it’s really trying to find that common ground, right?

Chris Brogan:  Yeah, no.  In both cases, I mean, what’s kind of funny about it to me is that…in both cases, there’s such an opportunity, you know.  You just said, you gave them repeat business because of that.  And we were talking about your UPS Store.  I had one in my little town as well, and…they ended up going out of business, and I was so sad.  So as you were telling me that story, I felt, like, this horrible feeling of loss because no one came to replace that organization in the next 10 miles in any direction.  So…you know, we get these great opportunities to do business, and it’s funny because, I mean…it can totally be with a virtual business.  Formally, Copyblogger Media, now Rainmaker, now that they’ve renamed…Brian Clark and I have been friends since, like, 2006, when I was spamming his Comments section full of love, you know.  Saying I wanted to steal his designer and have my own site look like his.  Now I can do that every day, because he, you know, basically gave me all his designs.  And, you know…I’ve worked with Brian in some capacity way back since then.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  And I think that, you know…in this world, where we’re trying to just rush because we “don’t have any time”.  I think we do have time, it’s just we’re just using it on all kinds of crazy things as opposed to, you know, thinking through a really simple, actionable strategy that’s gonna give us a chance to really focus on those people that we can serve, and we can serve in some kind of a fashion where we switch the metric from, you know, dollars total in…to dollars per guest.  Dollars per customer.  Dollars per buyer.  Where if we’re serving the person more and more and more, of course you’re gonna wanna give it more of their dollar.  I mean, thousands of my dollars go to Brian, that used to go all over the rest of the Internet.

So, you know, as…as things go, it’s kinda funny, because that’s how all of us have an opportunity.  We all have the opportunity to, you know, shift other people’s spending choices from elsewhere to us.  If we can do stuff to be really helpful to them. And both sides of that equation will be happy.  No one ever goes, “Oh, I’m so mad I’m getting really great service!”

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  You know?  “Oh, I’m so mad I can buy this all in one place and it’s even easier and better for me.”  You know.  That’s just not complaints we hear people whining about.

Loren Baker:  You know, it’s funny.  I actually have a customer service “good problem to have” type thing.  You know, when I’m not blogging or doing podcasting, I’m in the services industry I guess, right?  The general marketing consultant, content marketing, whatever else, over at Foundation.  And I’ve run into scenarios where I’ll have a client point of contact for two years, three years.  And sometimes, they’ll have, like, a new boss or a new VP or new management come in, and they’re like, “Hey, you know…you’re kinda…you’ve been working with your friend for a long time.  Who’s this friend that you have this new contract with?”  And I always find that really interesting, one, because I didn’t know this person until I started working with them.

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  And two, there’s this kind of suspicion that our relationship is so good that they were a friend that they’re giving…like, they’re giving contracts to a friend, when it’s the opposite. It’s something started from nothing, right?

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  And then the trust builds over time, and turns into a friendship.  Right?

Chris Brogan:  Exactly.

Loren Baker:  So it’s actually…it’s come up a couple times, which…not…not recently, and it’s not a large issues, but it is kinda funny when I sit back and reflect on it, because it’s like, “Hmm.  Maybe I’m too good at building relationships with the right people.”

Chris Brogan:  Exactly.  Well, it’s funny when you say that, because when I started the first consultancy I started, it was called New Marketing Labs, and it was just three of us.  And we called all of our clients “partners”.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Chris Brogan:  And so, first off, that was really weird nomenclature, like, it turned out it kinda messed a lot of people up, because they were like, “Wait a minute.  They’re your partner?  I thought they were your customer.”

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  And I was like, “I don’t care, stalactite, stalagmite.”  You know what I mean?  It’s…these people give us money and we’re a partnership, because we’re in it to win their success.  It made perfect sense to me, it’s just not the industry language.  So, anyway…but that language actually really translated nicely into a business philosophy, because what we would say is, you know, “Is this how we want to treat our partner?”  You know? And, “Would we want to nickel-and-dime our partner?”  “Would this be the kind of bill we’d wanna send”…blablabla.  So, the language helped us define how we best wanted to handle that business relationship.  And what we got from that was this really great back-and-forth feeling.  Now, some companies treated that a lot differently than other companies.  Some companies treated it, you know, like they could…like more like a bad cousin that we wished we didn’t have.  But it all…overall, on net, worked out pretty nicely.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.  Yeah.  It is…really cool.  And it helps kind of visualize what you want out of that relationship, because if you are a consultant, or you are…you know.  In the services industry, so to speak.  You don’t want to just have a contract, and that’s it.  You want growth on both sides of the coin, because you’re investing your time, right?

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  When I invest my time in a client project, I want to see that client grow.  I want to see the opportunity grow, not only because that’s what they’re paying us to do, but I want that time to go to something.  You know?  You wanna build something.

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  At the end of the day, we’re owners, we’re builders.  We find gratitude and we find, you know, just…happiness in seeing something grow.  And it’s not a question of getting a check to do your work.  It’s a question of, “Hey, let’s turn this pebble into a mountain.”  And how do we get there?

Chris Brogan:  Agreed.

Loren Baker:  So…you had, about 15 minutes ago, when we started talking about social media, and we got into everything else about relationship building, which is fantastic…you had mentioned that, again social media is a tool, and then also alluded to…you know, people putting too many resources, or business owners sometimes putting too many resources into too many social channels, and we’ve all been around long enough to know that social media has a shelf life, right?  We…

Chris Brogan:  Sure.

Loren Baker:  We all saw MySpace, maybe were around early enough to see Friendster.  And we’re watching.  We’re watching Facebook change, and you know, they’ve done a great job of acquiring their future user platforms, so to speak, in Instagram, and WhatsApp, and things like that.  But…we’re seeing Facebook use decline substantially, especially amongst younguns.  And…you know, like, this goes back to that owned media.  If you’re creating great material and great content on your site, you know…then you can broadcast it via these platforms and not necessarily lose out when they hit their expiration date.

Chris Brogan:  Right.  Right.  I mean, that’s the…the way I’ve been looking at it for a little while now, is this kinda tip that I’ve been calling “food truck” marketing and content.  So what I think of is…you know, we used to have to have a restaurant, which is our primary site, and then we went out to all these other places, like these social networks, which were outposts in my…in my parlance.  And so…what I think is a little more different now is that we’re trying to kind of do both now.  I think that…the right mindset has always been to have your own primary home base.  Like, if you aren’t…managing and maintaining a platform somewhere of your own that, you know, you pay the rent on…you know, you’re doomed.  Because a lot of people think of things like Facebook as their new home base.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  And to your point, as decline happens, that’s a problem.  They can get shut out for no good reason that they know of.  To me, I always tell people it’s like going into a hotel room with an Oriental rug and a Led Zeppelin poster and a lava lamp and thinking it’s your place.  You know, it’s not.  You’re just still renting it, but, you know…I guess you could try.  And so now…I mean, to your point about the kids kinda moving away and the fact that Facebook acquired WhatsApp and all this, I’m looking at places like China and Japan, so I’m looking at WeChat and I’m looking at LINE, and Facebook Messenger is getting closer and closer to acting like WeChat and LINE, so…lots more stickers, lots of financial stuff…and meanwhile, you know, as content creators, we’re like, “Oh, this is weird.  How do we put our content there?”

It turns out that even content, as a concept, isn’t the goal.  It’s serving the person that we’re hoping to help.  And so, you know, media companies obviously, content is still everything, and I am a media and education company.  But for the most part, people aren’t sitting around, you know, at their house, going, “Man, I can’t wait to find some great content today.”  You know, they’re trying to solve some business challenge of theirs, or some life challenge of theirs, or they wanna be entertained.  And so I think that we always have to keep that top of mind, and so, you know, that we don’t go chasing the wrong pieces of the equation.  I think that learning how to play in a Instagram, WhatsApp, LINE, WeChat kind of world is gonna be interesting, and I just wonder the day when, you know, sending weird luchador stickers back and forth is gonna be the norm.

Loren Baker:  Well…a couple of things.  You know, Facebook announced last week that they’re opening up Instagram advertising to be managed through the Facebook Ad Manager platform, which could be a sign of people turning off Instagram fairly soon, and two…I’m not sure if you’ve seen it or not, but Domino’s Pizza has a new commercial that has Richard Sherman ordering a pizza via Twitter by using a pizza emoji.

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  Right?

Chris Brogan:  I saw that.  Which is the future, isn’t it?  I mean, holy hell.

Loren Baker:  Yeah, it’s just…it’s like, I want pizza.  Why spend 5 minutes trying to even go online and explain via ordering it, when you could just sync up your user profile to their database.  They know who you are.  You let ‘em know that you want pizza, and tag them.  And it’s delivered to your house.  Pretty cool stuff.  Pretty cool.  But it is kinda neat to see Facebook catch up to those mobile-first countries.  I mean…

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  The first time I was in Japan was, like, 2000.  We didn’t even have, really, cellphones in the United States then.  Or if you did, they were very expensive and in order to put a camera on them, you had to literally buy another piece and plug it in.  When I was in Tokyo, I was just astonished by…not only did everyone have a cell phone with a camera, but they were smaller than the palm of their hands.  So, speaking of Instagram, Chris.  You’ve been going through some life changes recently.  I hit 40 about a year and a half ago, right?  So I’m 41, getting older, and I’ve been making it a point to think about my health and stuff like that, and I can honestly say it’s been inspirational to see you hitting the gym and your gym selfies and stuff like that.  One question I wanted to ask you is as you’ve been spending time concentrating on building strength, concentrating on yourself, what have you learned from a business owner or a marketing…

Chris Brogan:  Oh, I couldn’t be any more jazzed, you know.  The things I learn at a gym.  Because what’s…what I’ve come to understand is that there’s a lot of translation to business.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Chris Brogan:  And it’s funny how, you know, we, the entrepreneurial types…I mean, you and I and a lot of our friends are all paid to sit perfectly still in front of a piece of glass.

Loren Baker:  Oh, yeah.

Chris Brogan:  It’s…we are not, in any way, rewarded for movement.  And so you can get pretty messed up pretty quick, and a lot of travel, lot of steak dinners, lot of drinking with friends.

Loren Baker:  Yep.

Chris Brogan: You know…everything about this lifestyle is built, like, “Hey, you should be fatter.”

Loren Baker:  And as you get older, it doesn’t get easier, right?  It’s like…

Chris Brogan:  Right, right.  Right.  Well, you know, for me…I mean, I always like, if I saw a Burger King commercial, I’d gain 2 pounds.

Loren Baker:  Yep.

Chris Brogan:  So I’ve never had that, like, grace moment where you could just, like, skip a few beers and get skinny again.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Chris Brogan:  But I can tell you that as time goes on, I’m 45 now, it’s definitely trickier.  But even just beyond, like, the cosmetics of, you know…I’d like to look less round and like I’m going to explode, I would like to avoid heart attacks.  But even more so, this is the one that matters the most to me, is that I just keep thinking, “I want to be able to do something with my life and travel and go explore places.”  And you need, like, to walk a lot.  And you need really good strength.  Part of that’s really good core strength.  Getting in and out of chairs a lot requires, like, the very basics of doing a squat, for instance.

Loren Baker:  True.

Chris Brogan:  You know, getting down to your knees, or level with the chair, and all that sort of thing.  Which, as we get older, that gets harder.  So I started, you know, a couple of years back, saying, “You know, I think I wanna build, like, a really strong body.” You know, not that I have to, like, lift cars over my head or anything, but it would be neat to have, like, a great body to walk into my 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s with.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Chris Brogan:  And so that’s kind of what I started…the side benefit, the business side benefit that I’ve gotten from this whole experience is this whole understanding of the fact that with all this work, you know, I learned some really fundamental business stuff. If you skip the basics, nothing else good comes of it.  If you hide by doing the things that are sort of, like, vanity exercises, you don’t ever see good basic foundation strength.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  The numbers don’t like, so you could be tired one day or another, but the weight didn’t change.  You changed.  And so…it really pushed a lot of business fundamentals back on me to say, “You’ve got to pay a lot more attention than just doing the things that you think you like.  You have to do the things that are going to be working the dough.”

Loren Baker: You know what has really gotten me, too, especially getting older, is…is the importance of rest and recharging.

Chris Brogan:  Yes.

Loren Baker:  And…and that’s a core component of hitting the gym or exercise.  I mean, the average athlete is supposed to sleep, what?  12, 14 hours a day?  Something like that?  You know, or at least that’s what Chip Kelly has his Eagles doing.  To get their bodies together after a practice or after a game.  But…it’s the importance of realizing that, “Hey, you’ve worked really hard.”  You know, whether it’s one day doing your legs, or whatever, or over the course of three days, working on…material, launching a site, or launching a new product, or whatever.  And it’s time for your body and your mind to kind of…to turn off the screen.  To sit down and to recharge, and rebuild.  Right?  And…you know.

I spent years spinning my tires and actually burning at both ends, spinning the tires, you know?  Working all morning.  Going to work during the day.  Working all night.  Drinking coffee all day.  And what happens is you not only…basically torture your body by doing that, because you are sitting down, and you are, you know…ingesting toxins the whole time to keep going, but at the same, you’re really, you know…you’re really tiring your mind.

Chris Brogan:  Right.

Loren Baker:  And that’s why you end up spinning those tires.  I mean, I’ve made it a point to unplug on the weekends, you know, to a degree.  To a healthy degree.  And…one thing that helped do that is those parallels between working out and taking the time to rebuild and recharge.

Chris Brogan:  Absolutely.  And, you know, I…I met Arianna Huffington out and about a whole bunch of times over the last many years, and her speeches quite often have this component in it talking about sleep.  And I’d been thinking about this since about 2010, 2011, and I started, you know, bucking the rest of all my colleagues who were, like, “We never sleep!  We hustle and we grind!” and I thought, “You know what would be awesome?  What if I slept?  How much better would my work be?”  And I will tell you, hands down, two things that I’ve learned.  One is fitness-related.  Whenever someone says, “Oh, I’m not getting the results that I want.  I swear to God, I’m doing everything I said I’m supposed to do.”  And I always go, “How’s your sleep?”  And they always look at the floor.  Sleep and water is always the two things that they’re failing.  And then the other is that, you know, what I’ve come to learn is that the more I sleep, the way smarter I am when I get ready to do something productive and creative, and it’s amazing how it might take me eight hours to think of something, you know, when I’m not resting.  And it might take me 25 minutes to come up with something really great when I wake up after really good sleep and then a nice cup of coffee.

Loren Baker:  Yeah, it’s pretty phenomenal.  Pretty phenomenal.  So…you just launched OwnerFUEL, right?  Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Chris Brogan:  Yeah, so, I had this thought one day, which was that my…still my number one blog property in the universe is  And that hasn’t changed.  I started blogging in 1998.  I did not own the domain, I think, until, like, 2002 or 2003 or something like that.  So I used to blog on lots of different platforms.  A lot of it which is lost to the way-back machine, I’m sad to report, but probably safer and better for the rest of the world.  But I can tell you that in the process, three different times somebody’s offered to pay for  They’re willing to buy it from me.

Loren Baker:  Why would they want to do that?

Chris Brogan:  You know, because they want to stuff it full of their own ads, I guess.  And I just kept thinking, you know, what a weird deal.  Like…and the offers have never been major, like, you know…’cause I’m sure at some number, I might’ve thought, “You know what would be great, is not having my own name.”  But, you know, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 deals, and I kept thinking, “Wow, this is crazy.  Someone’s gonna give me half a million bucks to, like, take over my identity.”  And I thought, “Well, I guess it’s not really worth it to me.  Half a million’s great in the short term, but you can’t quit your day job.”  So I never did it.  So I decided to launch OwnerFUEL as a brand that I hope becomes bigger than me.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  And I want it to…you know.  Well, I would be lying if I didn’t wish it would be like BuzzFeed for business, but, you know.  I’m not really putting any resource into it.  It’s just me and a Rainmaker site.  So it’s gonna be a little while before I have, like, 4000 employees.  But I can tell you that the idea just simply was…I’m just kinda tired of the…”Do These 7 things Every Day to be a Better Entrepreneur”.  Or whatever.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Chris Brogan:  Type of posts. And I’m just…I’m just done.  Like, I just don’t wanna read them anymore and I don’t want to contribute to that space anymore.  And so I decided I would write only posts that I felt like, you know, in the 3 or 4 minutes it takes you to read it, that you’ll come out the other side and go, “Oh, I could use this.”  So I wrote one the other day, “Basic Tools For Running an Online Business”.  I wrote one about, you know, set a quick monthly reminder to perform these tasks on your social platforms.  “How to Find the Time to Blog”.  So, just real basic, straightforward stuff.  And, you know, so far the reaction’s been pretty positive.  It’s slow growth because I’m doing, you know, zero paid anything, I’m just sort of saying, “Hey, this is cool.”

Loren Baker:  Right.

Chris Brogan:  And then a few people like it every day, so…I’m not worried about it as far as, like…it doesn’t have to make me any money, I just want to replace Chris Brogan at some point.

Loren Baker:  I got a question for you.  Do you ever also have the urge where you wanna see if you can do it again?  You know what I mean?

Chris Brogan:  All the time.

Loren Baker:  Like, when I watched SEJ, right?  2003.  I went on GoDaddy, was taken.  So I thought, “Hey, blogs are also called web journals.  Let’s see if Search Engine Journal” is available.

Chris Brogan:  Mhmm.

Loren Baker:  It was available.  Okay.  Launch my blog!  Put it on Blogger.  Started blogging.  It was really good timing, and I put a lot into it, but it was very, very good timing.  Right?  It was right when Google bought Blogger.

Chris Brogan:  Yeah.

Loren Baker:  I was one of the first bloggers in my industry, so…that really helped.  Can I do it again?  Could I do it now?  Right?  Like, 13…14 years later, whatever.  Could I start something brand new and see if it takes off the same…can I do it all again, type thing?  And if I can do it, can I do it faster, ‘cause I already know, like, a lot of the hurdles.  Or is it more of a challenge now, right?  Because they have this thing called social media that you’re competing against.  Or you have this, and you have that.  So it’s like one of those things. Like…it’s cool to see you launching something new.

Chris Brogan:  Yeah. There’s billions of blogs.  Literally, because of spam blogging and things like that, and because of the fact that some people have seven or eight or nine blogs, and so we’re all doomed as far as that goes, as far as volume goes.  But…I do think that there’s a lot of opportunity to sort of push a voice out into the space.  And…it’s not there yet for me with OwnerFUEL.  No one’s…you know.  I’m just DYING for the day when someone quotes it as not Chris Brogan’s project, as just, like, “Oh, I read this great OwnerFUEL article.”  But it’s not there yet.  And I’ll have to kind of double down my…you know, putting it together to make that true, but you’re right.  I mean, to some level, I like the idea of saying, “Could I start something fresh today?”  I definitely applied a lot of what I’ve learned.  It’s really funny, you know, even just the span of a couple years.  The design for is all really very custom and Rafal Tomal made it, and every little thing wibbles and wobbles and looks perfect.  And OwnerFUEL, I launched it right out of the box with a Rainmaker Generate Theme.

Loren Baker:  Uh-huh.

Chris Brogan:  Which is right out of the box.  Like, all I did was stick up a graphic.  I said, “Oh, I can make that piece orange?”  I did.  Or “I can make the font bigger?”  I figured that out.  That was it.  Like, that literally…like, no designer helped me.  No developer helped me. It’s totally my blog.  And I liked that, because…you know, there’s a lot of…and you, I’m sure, hear it very similar yourself, “Oh, but you’re Loren.”  “Oh, but you’re Chris Brogan.”  And, you know, I did this one myself.  Like, anyone could do this if I can do it.   Because I’m not all that smart.

Loren Baker:  Absolutely.  No, you’re a little bit smarter than you give yourself.  But, yeah.  It does kinda…it’s like…it’s kinda like an Andy Kaufman experiment, right?  Like, “Can I go out and do this as…I dunno.  Tony Clifton.”

Chris Brogan:  Yeah!

Loren Baker:  Or…you know.  “Can I do it again bussing tables at Jerry’s after I’m done working on Taxi?” type thing.  Like…could I actually…I’ve hit whatever spot I consider to be…you know.  If you consider it to be successful, or to pay the bills, or whatever else.  Can I replicate that again?  Type thing.  So…cool to hear.  So where can we find you online, Chris?  And where are you gonna be soon?

Chris Brogan:  Well, based on that whole long conversation, I would say go to  What I always beg the most is, you know, sign up for the OwnerFUEL site and then it’ll also give you the option to grab my newsletter, as well.  My newsletter is my favorite thing, because you can hit “Reply”, so I talk to everybody.  Every Sunday, which is when my newsletter comes out, I get to have a great one-on-one chat with about 400 to 600 people, which is always awesome.

Loren Baker:  Fabulous.  Well, thank you very much.  Thanks again for joining me for this half hour or so here on Search & Social.  And…we’ll be talking to you soon.


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