How The Méme Bible Took Off on Tumblr And Made $200K in 3 Weeks

How The Méme Bible Took Off on Tumblr And Made $200K in 3 Weeks
the meme bible shopify masters

Nothing spreads from corner to corner of the internet quite like a good méme.

So what happens when you create a méme-based product and then launch it on Tumblr, one of the most méme-obsessed communities online?

For Jason Wong, it drove $200,000 in sales in just 3 weeks.

On this episode of Shopify Masters, you'll find out how he created and launched The Holy Méme Bible: 16 pages of the most iconic memes that include coloring pages, connect the dots, word searches, crossword puzzles and mazes.

A lot of memes originate on Tumblr, or are made popular by Tumblr, so the people on there are already familiar with this kind of content.

Tune in to learn:

  • The difference between working with influencers on Tumblr versus Instagram
  • Why you should keep your copy brief when running retargeting ads.
  • How to come up with content marketing ideas around your product.

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    Show notes:


      Transcript:

      Felix: Today I’m joined by Jason Wong from The Meme Bible.com. That’s T-H-E M-E-M-E B-I-B-L-E. Com. The Meme Bible is 16 pages of the most iconic memes and in forms of coloring books, connect the dots, word search, crossword puzzle, and maze. What started in 2014 and based out of Los Angeles, California.

      Welcome, Jason.

      Jason: Hello. Hi, Felix.

      Felix: So yeah, tell us a bit more about The Meme Bible. How did you come up with this idea?

      Jason: Well, you know, before doing e-commerce I was an influencer on social media so I started running these large pages to entertain people with internet memes. I realized that there’s different ways to present these kind of internet memes and another way to, you know, remember them. So putting them digitally on different platforms, I can turn them into a children’s activity book for people to kind of give as a gag gift or to enjoy and to remember 2016 in a special way.

      Felix: Yeah, that makes sense. So you obviously have experience or exposure in this culture. I guess this meme culture. I’m not sure what you would call it. You knew that there were these iconic images that you’re talking about.

      There are these iconic memes, but you chose to turn it into like you were say, an activity book. I think a lot of times when people have these iconic images from whatever industry, whatever niche they’re focused on, their immediate thought is to go create t-shirts, or mugs, or things like that.

      Things that are kind of merchandise that’s easy to produce. An activity book, what made you decide to go in that direction rather than I guess the more typical approach of getting merchandise made?

      Jason: Right. That’s a really good question because, you know, the easy thought is, “Why not just print everything on a t-shirt and sell them for a higher price point? It’s popular right now. Just get wearables.” I was actually inspired by the Adult Swear Word Coloring Book. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of that.

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

      Jason: It’s when an artist about a year ago actually at this time, created a few pages of coloring activities using swear words. You can color in the flowers surrounding the words. A lot of stuff. The artist made about I want to say a million dollars somewhere on that deal.

      Obviously the money is good, but the idea is special because no one really thought of turning something so common, swear words, into a coloring book. Which is, you know, commonly perceived as a children’s activity.

      “What if we do something that adults and teenagers enjoy and integrate something that people do in their childhood into that and put them together to create something that’s memorable?”

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. That makes sense that you wanted to create this new type of product and not just slap two products together. The memes and then slap onto a wearable like you were saying. This Meme Bible that you’re creating, this activity book that you are creating, were you able to validate it before you made much progress into it? How did you know that this was the right approach? Again making it a better approach than just to create wearables and merchandise.

      Jason: Well, for a lot of things, even for my previous businesses, a lot of them it’s just trial and error. Honestly I created this book in two weeks. You know, every one of the designs, the publishing, the printing was done in a very short span of time, so there was really no time for me to do market research, [inaudible 04:33] research, and analysis or anything. It’s just really print, sell. If it sells well, reinvest that money, and print more.

      In the beginning, I think around November 27th of this year, is when I start printing the books. I printed 250 copies of it. That cost me about $450, and at that time it was kind of most of the money that I had. It was just a few hundred dollars.

      So I put all of that into the book, printing it not knowing whether it will be a success or not. I kind of calculated how much I would need to sell to break even, but I didn’t expect it to sell so much. All I had was 250 copies. I would be happy if it all sold out and it just went beyond that.

      Felix: That’s amazing. So you did this in two weeks, which I think sometimes it takes people even longer to do market research. It takes them even longer than two weeks to do market research. I think your approach makes a lot of sense, especially if it doesn’t require that much capital to invest. You know 400/$450 is not that much in the kind of grand scheme of things.

      If you can spend that kind of money, get a product out there, and then validate it with an actual product, I think that’s totally the right approach rather than spending the two weeks going academically about it and trying to do the research. Just two weeks though.

      I think that that’s a very quick turn-around time. You know, it sounds like you think the same thing. That it was done very quickly. What did you actually do in those two weeks? How were you able to come up with the idea, design it, get it manufactured so quickly?

      Jason: Right. So what I did was in the beginning doing a lot of research onto what was trending throughout the year. The idea of the book is to memorize 2016 by using the things that were iconic. So I had to, you know, look back through different sources like people’s blogs, Reddit, the meme archives, different Twitter accounts to see what was most popular, how well were they received, and what are people’s opinion about it? Some memes just aren’t meant to be used again and some are so popular that I believe people would like to see them in different forms.

      For most of the time I just did a lot of market research into what was popular and how to integrate that into an activity. What I realized that the memes in 2016 are drastically different than the memes in 2012 and I’ll give an example on that one. Four or five years ago the memes were kind of cartoonish, you know? Like the derp or the rage comics.

      Those are more drawing-based. Those are comics and, you know, you can easily replicate them and turn them into coloring books or children’s activities. A lot of things this year, and even last year, are kind of picture or video based. Damn, Daniel for example or last year Alex from Target. These are video formats. How do we turn them into a children’s activity book?

      That was one of the challenges that I faced. It was just, "How do we integrate them into an activity that’s fun, that’s memorable, and still retains the same idea without kind of shifting away from its original meanings.

      Felix: In those two weeks you had all of these challenges. All of these design challenges to take what these iconic images, these videos, and turn them into a paper form that could be used for an activity like coloring or connect the dots. So was this the what you were doing for those two weeks? That design. That I guess kind of brainstorming of how to implement this or was it actually being produced in those two weeks as well? When did you actually get this into the hands of I guess the people that were going to actually produce the books for you?

      Jason: Right. One of the biggest problem that I had was not anticipating the demand I would, you know, receive. So around late November I started printing 250 books and they would come in a few days. I sold out those 250 books within six hours of putting them on my site through various marketing tactics.

      After that I started doing pre-sales and people didn’t receive those pre-sale items until a week later. We do try to time everything so that people will receive it before Christmas. That was another challenge as well. Rush order everything, getting things from point A to point B. In the beginning I though of fulfilling everything on my own.

      You know, hiring a couple of friends, do it in the garage. Then we sold over 10,000 books and at that point I realized that I need to reroute everything to a professional fulfilling center because there’s really no way I can do everything and get everyone’s product in their hands before Christmas.

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, so the sales they still all happen in one month, this month of November where you design all this. You’ve got it made, you sold out of it pretty much all in a span of 30 days. Where did you get these books printed? I’m not even sure how if wanted to take this similar approach and create books or create activity books. Are there manufacturers, are there producers, that focus specifically on designing products like this?

      Jason: Yes. Another problem was that I never had any experience of printing physical media. Finding someone that’s reputable was important so I depending a lot on online reviews, so I looked at a printer that’s near my place because that would ensure the fasts delivery time. I found a printer in Northern California, in the San Francisco area, that was able to print each unit at a reasonable price and then get them to me in the fastest time possible which is two day production time.

      That was going well until I had to ship my fulfillment center to Texas. At that time I had to find another printing center that was close to the fulfillment center so it can get it, you know, from the printer to the fulfillment center as soon as possible. I mean, there wasn’t really any special tactics that I used to find these sources. It’s just Googling, and then depending on other people’s experience, and then going with that.

      Felix: Right. That makes sense. Okay, so you had these initial 250 printed and they sold out very quickly. What were you doing to market it? Was it just the social media platforms that you were an influencer on? What were you doing to sell out so quickly?

      Jason: Yes, that was a large part of it actually. Just a little background on myself, I’m an influencer on Tumblr and I have about over 1.4 million followers. So being able to market that and having that seen by my audience is getting picked up really easily because it’s a viral element in itself because all the memes are, you know, viral already, right? So people started picking it up and being like, “Oh, I want this for Christmas. I want this.” It just went from there. It went viral after you show it from the beginning.

      Felix: Okay, yeah. So then I think the next question is the act of becoming an influencer on these platforms I think there’s an approach that a lot of people find themselves in where they have built a following. Maybe not nearly as successful as yours, you know. Over a million followers is amazing, but maybe not as successful as yours, but still enough that they might be able to launch some kind of business off of it.

      Now Tumblr specifically I’ve heard of people being influencers. People working with influencers on Instagram, on YouTube, on Twitter, on Facebook, all of those channels, but never anybody on Tumblr. So what has your experience been like? What have you found different about being an influencer on Tumblr versus the other platforms?

      Jason: Right. Tumblr’s such a unique place and it’s a hard place to be an influencer on. A lot of people flock to Twitter or Instagram because it’s so easy to grow their account, but I feel like there’s such a large just connectivity between the influencer and their audience when they’re on Twitter and Instagram because essentially all they really are doing is posting contents that are copied from other people and then pushing it to their audiences whereas on Tumblr I feel like there’s a bigger connection between the influencer and the audience.

      There’s more opportunities to have conversations with one another. Sometimes we host meetups. It’s kind of like YouTube, but more like a text-based format. I feel like by having that closer interpersonal relationship with your audience by, you know, making them like friends rather than an audience, we are able to push our products better and more efficiently because there is more trust in us as influencers to endorse these products.

      I think that’s the biggest distinction between being an influencer on Tumblr and being an influencer on other platforms. Now another thing that really separates us is the promotional methods. So a lot of memes do originate from Tumblr or made popular by Tumblr, so the people on there are already familiar with this kind of content. They know what is going on in the books. They just want to buy something that’s memorable and to remember these memes.

      Having that right audience was very important. I believe that a lot of people listening to this podcast won’t be an influencer themselves and that’s totally okay because you just really need to find an influencer to connect with. If I didn’t have any audience on my personal accounts, I can still achieve a similar effect because I’ve reached out to the right people who can connect me to the right people.

      It’s really about the networking effect and knowing the right people. You don’t need a million followers on your stuff to do what I do. You just need to find the right market and then find the right marketing tactics to go about it.

      Felix: Yeah, I like that. That you don’t want people to essentially spend all this time. I’m sure you spent a lot of time to build your following on Tumblr. You don’t have to focus on that when you are a business owner. You can just find existing influencers and work with them.

      Jason: Absolutely.

      Felix: So tell us about this. What is it like, from your perspective of course? Let me ask you this first. Have you worked with other Tumblr influencers to help promote your products?

      Jason: Absolutely. I would say that in the beginning I’d use my own blog to promote the product, but after two or three days I shift it away from my own personal promotion and I push it all to other influencers. I reached out to all the big accounts on Tumblr and I start, you know, working with them to push their products out, and essentially I’d kind of just leave the promotion off my own blog because I was spending more time developing more content and developing more connections with people to work with. By the end of the sixth or seventh day, most of Tumblr’s influencers have content posted on their blog in one way or another. We did a fairly large campaign on Tumblr.

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and what has your perspective been from on both sides as an influencer and as someone that works with influencers? I guess how does the deals usually work with influencers work on Tumblr? If someone wanted to tap into the demographic that is on Tumblr, how do they find influencers and how do they approach them?

      Jason: Well, there’s several services that connect you with them, but most of these services exclude Tumblr. Particularly because it’s really hard to get into, so not many influencers are able to use it. I was able to have access to these influencers myself because I am in their circle, so I’m able to have better access to them.

      The best advice for people outside of, you know, this circle is to contact these people one on one and they connect you with their friends. They connect you with their circle. There’s a special relationship between influencers and brands. I think a lot of people need to remember that they depend on you and you depend on them so there’s a mutual beneficial relationship.

      There’s really no trouble reaching out and just chatting up a deal. Pay per post or pay per commission, these are things that a lot of people work with and they’re happy to work with your budget if necessary.

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative). How do you determine if an influencer is the right connection for your brand? What are you looking at to determine that they will essentially have the right demographic of followers?

      Jason: Yeah, that’s a really good question because it’s really hard to determine. There’s really no single indicator of whether or not they’re suitable for it. There’s no scale. There’s no score. It’s really about up-serving the influencer account and seeing the type of contents that they reach out to and what kind of audience those content attract.

      I’ll just give a very clear example let’s say for Twitter. If you’re pushing a hair product you’re aiming for I would say a largely female audience. With that in mind, you find out the age group of the audience that you want to target. Perhaps a hobby, your interests. Then you go on Twitter and look for accounts that are posting contents that relate to it.

      Using the same example audience, teenage girls likes hairs product. Maybe we can look for a Twitter account that posts about teenage girl quotes or teenage girl posts. Things that are relatable to these teenage girls because you know that their audience is mostly females and probably in the teenage years. That’s one way to go about it.

      Another way that I’ve been experimenting was with Facebook advertisements which has been very successful. It’s my first time working on Facebook advertisements, but it’s very accurate because all you really need to have is the initial user data and then it goes from there. I’ll elaborate on that if you want.

      Felix: Yeah, yeah. Let’s go into that in a second. Right after this, but I want to close out on this Tumblr discussion real quick. If someone wants to work with an influencer on Tumblr, you’re saying that there’s different kind of deals that you can craft. As either pay per post or some kind of commission.

      Can you give an idea of what kind of budget you would need before it even makes sense? Can you start with $100 or do you need to have more than that to actually have any success working with influencers on Tumblr?

      Jason: Right. Budget is a large problem for a lot of people because for Twitter and Instagram and even Facebook they charge a lot of money for the views for traffic. User impressions. CP conversion.

      On Tumblr it’s special because the costs of promoting there is so low. A lot of people charge by post so a few dollars per share. Sometimes they’ll create the post for you for a few dollars or you can go with the commission way. Cut them a 25/30% deal and then they’ll be happy to go about it. If you’re on a budget and you want to reach a large audience I think Tumblr is the best place to do it if you have the right strategies.

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay, so let’s talk about Facebook now. Like you were saying, it’s been very effective for you and what you were saying earlier was that all you need is the initial user data from I’m assuming you’re talking about the traffic that’s already coming to your site and then you build your ads based on user data. Are you creating lookalike audiences? What are you doing exactly on Facebook?

      Jason: Right. In the first few days, I didn’t touch Facebook ads. What I did was to install Facebook Pixel for the advertisement manager and then, you know, I install Google Analytics. What I really focused on was funneling enough traffic through social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. My first few days I was getting about 15 to 20,000 visitors a day. By the fourth day I had about 50,000 visitors and that’s 50,000 worth of user data.

      Using that data I started doing retargeting ads on advertisements. People that have visited my site will now have a cookie on their browser and Facebook will know who these users are. Whenever they go on Facebook to check their newsfeed, to talk to their friends, they will start seeing advertisements for The Meme Bible offering a discount. That has been very successful for us. I think we did about 6/7,000 just in sales from that in a few days.

      Felix: That’s awesome. So what you’re saying is you place the Facebook Pixel on your site and drive the initial traffic through social media. I’m assuming that through your accounts and through work on influencers from there you can re-target all of the audience that was already coming to your site before again with ads and they’re obviously going to be much more likely to convert because they’re already familiar with the products. With the brand.

      Did you segment out the audience any more? Were you trying to re-target people that were looking at the homepage, the product page, add to cart, all of it? Were you more focused on a specific part of the funnel?

      Jason: I have different asset links, so I have the re-targeting based on visitors and then other than that I have advertisements for recovery of cart that offer a bigger discount because people that have added the product to the cart are fairly warm traffic and they’re very more likely to go back and buy again if they’re offered a better incentive to do so. So I’ve been working with both sides of that for now.

      Felix: Okay, so for any cart-abandoners, you are advertising to them again on Facebook and in order to push them towards the conversion you are offering a discount code?

      Jason: My discount code for the [inaudible 22:17] was 15% and I sent out an email 18 hours after cart abandonment. I’ve been playing around with different hours. One hour, 18 hours, 24 hours. I thought 18 hours would be the most effective for some reason. Another thing that I learned from re-targeting ads is that you need to keep the description as brief as possible.

      There’s really no need to really describe your product, no need to write a paragraph about it. It’s just, you know, “Here’s a discount code. You can use it if you come back.” These are visitors that went through your website. Really they don’t need to, you know, get you to make the sales to them again. They just need an incentive to come back and you just really need to offer them that.

      Felix: That makes sense. Keeping it as brief as possible. Do you find that there is harm in I guess elaborating too much in the copy for these?

      Jason: Yes.

      Felix: Okay.

      Jason: Absolutely. So in the beginning I made the mistake of making a very detailed re-targeting advertisement so what I did was I copied my product description and I put it into the ad again and then at the bottom I put the 15% discount code. Most people, even myself, we don’t read through the lengthy text.

      We just want to see a discount code. Because there’s a lengthy text, sometimes we are deterred from even reading it in the first place. The conversions for that kind of advertisement was very low. I was struggling ,and I asked around, consulted a few friends in e-commerce, and they recommended the shorter text version, which yielded very good results.

      Felix: I see. So you are going as far as making the headline mention the discount maybe mention the discount code?

      Jason: Yeah, it’s just we need to give them an incentive to come back. Most people don’t care about reading your product description again. They just want to know, “Why should I come back? Give me a reason to.”

      Felix: I see. That makes a lot of sense. You know, focus on the reason. Focus on why they should go back and check out the product and not spend that time describing the product to them because they probably already read it or are already familiar enough with it and they just need to know the reason.

      I like that kind of line of thinking. So you were talking about cart abandonment earlier. I think I might have misheard you. Were you saying that you are sending out cart abandonment emails or are you actually re-targeting cart abandoners on Facebook or are you doing both?

      Jason: Just email. I don’t think it’s good to be repetitive because it seems like a spam tactic. For visitors that visit our site, the main page, not any specific page, we send out a re-targeting ad on Facebook. For cart abandonment customer, we send out a cart recovery email after 18 hours. I’ve been seeing very good results for both of them.

      Felix: These cart abandonment emails, are you following the same philosophy where you’re keeping it super short or what are you saying in these emails?

      Jason: Yeah. I think it’s my overall email is two lines in total. The first line was, “Come back and enjoy this discount code.” The second line was just the discount code. The conversion rate from these emails has been high. I don’t know the numbers exactly because I’m not on the page right now, but from what I’ve been observing these past few days they have a high success rate.

      Felix: Got you. That makes. Okay, cool. So let’s talk about the content and marketing because I think that that was an approach that worked very well for you. I believe, I’m not sure if it was your email or I read it somewhere about you that you sold $20,000 worth of products in just five days with some basic content marketing.

      One interesting that you said after that was that content marketing for you consists of 50% of taking advantage of natural human behavior and 50% thinking of ways to not promote your product. Can you explain a little bit more about this? What does that breakdown mean to you?

      Jason: Right. So content marketing is essentially promoting your product through its ideas, but not the content itself. You want to promote an ideology between revolving your product. People that see product marketing sales, they don’t like it. They feel like they’re being taken advantage of and they just kind of, you know, shield these ads away from their eyes.

      Once we promote an idea and it gets their interests, they’re more inclined to, you know, spend more time learning more about it. Then once you get the idea into them and get the interest in them, they are more inclined to make a purchase, or even share a difference. An example I guess you’re referring to the articles in Forbes?

      Felix: Yeah. I believe there was a Forbes article.

      Jason: Yeah, so that was about my time selling on Trendy Co, which is during the election season I sold a shirt with Bernie Sanders holding a cat on a t-shirt. It was a Photoshopped picture of a cat in front of a galaxy background. It was a pretty funny picture and I found the picture off Reddit.

      What I did was I contacted an artist who worked together to use this image and I cut him a commission deal out of all the sales and it did really well. So when did that I didn’t really push the product. I just started, you know, sharing Bernie Sanders as a person. His ideas and just throwing the product in there in the mix.

      People like the idea. They like the joke because it’s a funny shirt. Once they like a joke, they’re more inclined to check out the page and you get several add to cart people. Some might purchase, some might not. You send them a cart abandonment email and some might even come back from that.

      Felix: Makes sense. So was this also promoted through your own social channels? How did you spread those ideas?

      Jason: This was entirely on Tumblr because I believe it’s the only platform where I can effectively use multi-media to promote an idea. Twitter is very limited because it’s 140 characters. Instagram there’s no native link in the caption, so you can’t really link anything.

      Even in the caption it’s very limited because the space is very restricting. Tumblr was an ideal platform for me to use to spread these kind of ideas. To spread jokes about the presidential candidate. To spread his ideas and to throw the shirt and sandwich it together.

      Felix: I see what you’re saying. So basically what you’re getting at is that you don’t want to spend your time talking about your product. You want to talk about the idea of maybe the lifestyle that surrounds your product or talk about content that would attract the target customers to your content and then eventually lead them into your site, into your store.

      Now if someone wants to take this approach, which I think is an awesome approach because you don’t have to pay for ads in this case, right? You’re putting out content and hopefully you’re working with influencers. Maybe paying that way, but it’s much more of an indirect sale. I think that rubs people a better way than a more hard sale.

      If you have a product, how do you back out into the idea? You have this t-shirt idea and maybe yours is a little bit easier because it’s Bernie Sanders and obviously he has a lot of ideas and there’s I guess this revolution around him during that time. You have a more boring I guess product.

      I can’t think of one right now, but maybe a more boring product, how do you step back and try to discover the ideas that surround that product so that you can create content based on those idea?

      Jason: Right. I’ll give you an example. I think it’s best to just talk about an example. One of the products that I’ve been working with in the past few months was phone case. Phone case is very straightforward. A lot of people do it. It’s cheap to manufacture and I believe a lot of shop owners do phone cases because it’s a high-margin product.

      How do we market a phone case? It’s just a boring phone case. I guess for my example specifically, my case has a functionality, which it’s based on windows. It’s based on any flat surface. It’s called the anti-gravity phone case and it has a nano-suction material on the back of the case where you can stick it on windows. You can stick it on mirrors. It’s great for people doing makeup. People cooking. That will stick to the cabinet.

      These are the great functions. These are the functions that I believe draws people’s interests. So before we talk about phone case it itself, selling the phone case here, and buying it for $9.99, we talk about what it can do. We talk about, you know, what it’s made out of, what it’s capable of doing, and then we feature the product in the end.

      By that time, by the time people see the product, they kind of know what the product is already because they know what it’s capable of, what it’s made out of, and I guess people that are interested by that are more inclined to look at the product at the end.

      Felix: Okay. That makes sense. So you’re focusing a lot on the benefits. How can your life be improved by having this product but not actually talking about it until they’re bought into the idea. Bought into how their lives improve from there. That makes a lot of sense.

      I think this wasn’t your quote necessarily, but this is something I believe is in the Forbes article too where it says that you explain that your method of converting content into results, I’m assuming that means sales, through a story about how pyramid scheme organizations recruit. Can you say more about this? How do you relate, I guess a pyramid scheme, to content and conversions.

      Jason: Yeah, it was actually it was the coolest experience of mine. So last year when I first moved to LA, I was standing in line at Costco and then this girl in front of me, she’s fairly attractive and then she started making a conversation with me.

      She was like, “Hey, what are you here for? What do you do? Where do you go to school? My name is Anne. After this I’m going to meet my mentor later,” and that’s where it hit me. “I like the word mentor because I’ve always been wanting to learn more things from someone who’s an expert at a specific field.”

      She starts talking about her mentor. She’s talking about the things that he taught her. Everything. All the great benefits, the trips that they take to these conferences. I was really interested at at that point and after five minutes or so I got her number. We were supposed to meet for dinner in a few days and the dinner happened at a house. She brought me in and then she started talking about this book.

      It’s a book by I believe his name is Robert and it’s called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about that book before, but she presented me this book and she said, “I want you to read this book and kind of absorb the ideas behind it.” At this point there’s really no …. She didn’t mention any business. She didn’t mention any marketing agencies.

      She just started giving me these ideas. The ideas of starting your own business. The ideas of doing small business and taking it into your own hands and how to make passive income. Giving me all these fantastic ideas I’ve always wanted to learn and want to achieve. Then after I finished the book, she was giving me this, you know, packed kit. Notebooks, fancy suitcase. She drew me into this house.

      Two weeks later and we are all sitting in the living room and this guy comes out, you know, introduces himself as the founder or the partner at this agency. It sounded exactly like a pyramid scheme. In hindsight, it is a pyramid scheme. Then he started talking about the benefits of joining these organizations, the discounts, the money you can make referring your friends and family.

      At that point I realized, “Well shit, I’m in a pyramid scheme.” I was three weeks into the program already and I did not know that it was a pyramid scheme at all.

      Felix: Wow.

      Jason: It was so effective because he was selling me the great ideas that I’ve always wanted to have. He started talking about the benefits. He talked about the lifestyle that I would have. Being retired at 32 years old. Using himself as an example. I’ll say, “Wait, I want to be retired at 32. I want to have passive income. I want to make six grand a month doing something that I love.”

      She was telling me all these ideas that I had wanted and I believe everyone else in the room really wanted. That I did not know I was in a pyramid scheme. Then at the end of the day they want us to sign up for a membership for 100 something dollars. I don’t know what agency it was because it so sophisticated that they did not mention what multi-level marketing agency it was. They were so focused on testing the idea that they did not tell me what organization we were working for.

      Usually more people are upfront. “Oh, you’re working for MCA? You’re working for Herbalife?” You’re working for all these organizations, but at the end of the day I still don’t know who I was working for. I was just so interested in joining that I did not care or I did not hear anything at all. Yeah, [inaudible 35:41] content marketing it’s not. It’s just me selling to get people interested and they will not think that is an advertisement.

      Felix: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think what worked as well in your example of being recruited into this pyramid scheme without know was that they were able to keep your attention for almost a month. They were able to get you to keep coming back and listening to be essentially indoctrinated over that time.

      How can you replicate that I guess online? How do you keep people’s attention? How do you keep them returning back to hear the message? I know I don’t want people to leave this trying to build a pyramid scheme of their own, but if there’s some benefit to knowing how to keep people’s attention and keep hitting them with your message, what works is your case? What kind of tips do you have to keep people’s attention so you can get your message to them?

      Jason: Right. One way to keep active social media accounts and keep consistent content going up, if you’re selling I would say something in the health supplement industry, you would start posting all that before and after pictures, right? Some customer testimonials. These are all content and ideas that you want to instill in your audience’s mind.

      It’s, “Oh, this product works. Here’s a picture. Here’s a blog post about the benefits of it.” If you start building a customer base and then feeding them more contents rather than feeding them more advertisements. Contents are easy to keep people reading. Advertisements kind of just steers people away at first sight.

      So it’s to build an active social media account and have consistent contents posted onto it that kind of relates back to the idea of the product. The benefits of it. Why people should be more interested it in rather than every single post being “Buy this for 15% off,” “Get 30% off when you buy a second item.”

      These are things that you put in once in a while, but what you should really focus on is having consistent content and having a consistent theme revolving around your product that gets people interested.

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So let’s take Instagram for example. I think that that’s probably a platform that most people are familiar with. Now you’re saying let’s say on your feet if you’re selling some kind of weight loss product to post a lot of success stories. Post a lot of content about how to lose weight. Basically inspirational/motivational content.

      Now at any point do you ever include in your feed your product, or any mention of the product, or do you wait for them to kind of go deeper into your funnel by joining your mailing list or something before you mention to product?

      There’s a gigantic feed of images, motivational quotes, before and after pictures, and then a picture of “10% off if you come to check this out.” Do you believe in taking that approach? How would you set that up?

      Jason: I believe that the deeper you get someone into your funnel the easier it is to retain them as a customer. If you do everything so early on and you rush it, they’re not really what we call a warm traffic. They’re still kind of cold.

      They’re still kind of on the fence about doing this and that. You kind of want to get them to be more of a customer base. Loyal customer base and start feeding them ideas and then selling them from there. This will take, you know, a long time to build.

      Especially for if you’re building a brand rather than building a product. Building a brand is all about building brand recognition and establishing your credibility as a brand where some would probably just, you know, push a product and then bump it in a couple of weeks. There’s different approaches depending on what’s your objective.

      Felix: Yeah. The reason I’m asking is because if someone follow your Instagram from the very beginning then it’ll definitely make sense that you’re posting 10 kinds of meeting posts and then the 11th one is essentially a sale. Maybe soft sale or something to get them to check out the site.

      Now someone dropped in and now at the very beginning caught you at the beginning dropped on the 8th post, it seems that it seems like the witch came out a lot sooner. How do you manage that kind of difference in timing of people dropping into your content marketing feed. Whether it be on Tumblr, or whether it be on Instagram or any other platform that has this feed?

      Jason: There’s different approaches to this. What I think is important is to keep your main account to be more content-centric. Then using your influence or connections to make the mixture of posts. Because people that follow the influencer posts goes to your account and they don’t see it as they see the contents. They’re more inclined to follow it. You can use influencer connections and using their posts is to have a mixture of having content posts.

      Felix: Okay. I see what you were saying. So you’re kind of, not assuming, but the idea is that the influencers that you are working with, they’re also probably being followed by your audience so that they’re focused on your main account. They see all the content, they see all the value you’re providing, but you’re not doing the selling. You work with the influencers that your current audience probably is also following. That they’re selling it on your behalf. I like that approach.

      Jason: Yeah, so it keeps your account clean, like pure, and it doesn’t make yourself seem like very sales pushy it doesn’t matter what the influence is the ones that are sales and pushy because, well one, you’re not really connected to them and to two they’d delete the posts shortly after. What you really need to do is keep your account at a clean slate and to let influencers do what we say is the dirty work.

      Felix: Right. That makes sense. Also when someone else sells on your behalf, it kind of takes away some of the assumed bias that people will automatically feel if it’s the brand itself that’s pushing a product. Us pushing it, even if it’s a paid influencer, I think people are much more likely to trust the guy that’s less biased even though you’re essentially paying them or work with them in some regard anyway.

      Jason: Absolutely.

      Felix: Now when it comes to actually creating the content for your social media or whatever else you’re creating, what’s your process like? How do you determine what kind of content you should be creating and do you produce all the content yourself?

      Jason: So sometimes I do my own contents development and sometimes I outsource it to other people too to make blog posts. Blog posts increases your site’s SEO and it gives the customers a better understanding of what your product or your brand is about. So that’s one thing that I guess you could outsource to someone else.

      Another thing about social media posts is that you really need to keep a consistent quality so a lot of the work is really keeping the consistency. If you change photographers for example, the quality and the tone may change. There’s a lot of challenges about creating good content.

      Most of the time I just take it upon myself to do it and I start by studying the audience. I look at the product I’m trying to promote, who it’s trying to attract, what is something that they are interested in right now, and how can I integrate their current interest into a new product? How can I relate those two together to make it more appealing?

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So far the main kind of marketing channels for you in your case it would be Tumblr. You would be the one that’s creating the content because you can keep the messaging, the tone, the voice the same. If you start building a team around it and spreading it to [inaudible 43:09] other people then you can run into a situation where there’s a difference in tone and you feel like audiences can’t pick up on that.

      Jason: Absolutely.

      Felix: Now when it comes to outsourcing especially for maybe your secondary channels like your blog for example where do you typically go to find outsource freelancers?

      Jason: A good freelance website I’ve been using so far is [inaudible 43:33] and then another one is Fiver. Fiver’s the one that you can hire people for $5 and it’s very simple gigs. Quality I wouldn’t say is excellent, but it gets the job done if you can proofread it at the end.

      That’s something for people on a budget, which I really was a few months ago. So I couldn’t really afford professional freelancers for $40 an hour so I went to Fiver. There’s different ways. Sometimes you just have to write it yourself and get your friends to proofread it. That’s the cheapest option.

      Felix: Cool. Now when you are working with influencers to promote your product, whether it be on Tumblr or Instagram, do you have any tips on how you can set up a deal or I guess talk about the promotion with these influencers that will ensure that you get what you need to turn a positive ROI on investing in these influencers?

      Jason: Yeah, so for a good influencer deal, it comes with weeks of planning. Planning ahead what kind of pictures to use. You have to understand their audience because the influencers understand the audience better than anyone else so you really need to have consistent communication with them.

      Understand what’s been working well so far, check their previous collaborations. What kind of text? What kind of pictures works well? Start developing conscious space on there. I guess depending on which social media account agency that you work with, some of them will do most of the dirty work for you.

      Felix: Any recommendations on social media talent agencies that you know of that would I guess would be a good start for anyone that’s trying to try out this network of influencers for the first time?

      Jason: Right. One guy I personally recommend for Twitter and Instagram is a thing called Flipmass, flipmass.com. So they are very well-connected to Instagram and Twitter influencers and they tend to start developing contents and pushing these contents for you. Another thing that I would also use in the past is Famebit.com, which focused more on Instagram and YouTube.

      I guess if you have a product that you think a product review would do well on, you could collaborate with YouTube accounts on Famebit. Then you pay from there. The influencer doesn’t gets paid until they go over the product. You can’t reveal everything. So it’s a very sophisticated process to ensure that no one really gets screwed over.

      Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and does it make sense to use Flipmass or Famebit for people that are just starting out or do you recommend that people try to go off on their own first? What stage of the business before you should focus on going with these talent agencies?

      Jason: I think Flipmass is good if you have a larger value and a budget because these companies are working with big brand names and they are handling large values. So especially if you have a good budget for these, I would say 1 to 5,000.

      In the beginning if you’re starting out with a small budget, which I believe most small business owners are, I would just reach out to those influencers yourself. By doing so you’re also putting yourself at a risk of being scammed, or having low-quality contents delivered. I would say it’s safe. It’s a good investment to work with agencies just like Famebit and Flipmass.

      Felix: Awesome. So with all these marketing channels that you focus on working with influencers, having your own platform. I think it was mentioned earlier or maybe off the podcast that you only spent $400 on this coloring book. This meme coloring book. This Meme Bible, and you made $100,000 in just seven days. Can you give us an idea of how successful the business is today? I think this is probably your second month now in business?

      Jason: We’re actually third week in business. We began on December 3rd, so it’s been about 20 days.

      Felix: Wow.

      Jason: We’re close to 2000 grand right now.

      Felix: That’s amazing. So what do you want to see in all your businesses in the next year? This time next year?

      Jason: I believe there’s a lot of room for updates because memes are constantly changing, but I don’t want to make a series that’s so frequent because that kind of loses its freshness. I’ll say a couple of series per year. Like an end of the year deal or a mid-year deal. Maybe a large collection history book. Something like that. That’s something we can work with. These are just new ideas I’m exploring and trying to see what works best right now.

      Felix: Awesome. So thanks so much for your time, Jason. The Meme Bible.com is the store that we talked about. You also have a few other businesses that you run. Can you let the audience know about where they can go to find out more about your other businesses?

      Jason: Yeah. What I’m focusing heavily on right now is fifthtee.co. That company focuses on helping homeless animals by pledging a fifth of our proceeds to donate to Best Friends Animal Society, which is the largest no-kill shelter in the United States.

      We work around these shelters and we produce appeals that features dogs and we make appeals that are honoring different dogs in the shelter. It’s been a really fun journey so far to do something that I’m passionate about and also helps make a living.

      Felix: Awesome. Thanks again so much for your time, Jason.

      Jason: No problem. Thank you.

      Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the e-commerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit Shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30-day trial.


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      About the Author

      Felix Thea is the host of the Shopify Masters podcast, the ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs, and founder of TrafficAndSales.com where you can get actionable tips to grow your store’s traffic and sales.

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