Turning something you care about into a business gives you a unique edge: an intimate understanding of your audience and what engages them.
On this episode of Shopify Masters, you'll learn from Rizala Carrington, owner of Pride Designz, a store for LGBT jewellery and clothing, who followed her passions and created a Facebook fan page that drives the majority of her traffic.
In this episode, you'll learn:
- How you can tell if you’re just interested or if you’re truly passionate about a niche.
- How to transition from building an audience to monetizing that audience.
- The kinds of content to post on your Facebook fan page to get the most engagement (featuring actual examples).
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
- Store: Pride Designz
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Instagram
- Recommended: Playbuzz, Hextom (Shopify app developers), Retargetapp,
Rizala: Hey, what's up Felix?
Felix: Awesome. Tell us a little more about your story. Obviously I listed a bunch of products that you guys sell. What are the most popular ones?
Rizala: Right now actually it's switching back and forth between rings and bracelets. Necklaces are doing pretty well as well, but right now rings are pretty hot.
Felix: Nice. Cool. You and I met out in San Francisco when I was out there for Shopify Unite Conference. It was funny just bumping into you and you were telling me your story, and I was like, yeah, definitely want to have you on a podcast because of your interesting background and how you got started. I think it's a pretty not necessarily similar story for a lot of entrepreneurs out there, but this feeling of trying something and then not working and then almost failing a bunch of ways towards your first success. Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got started. Not necessarily in e-commerce, but what was your online business background?
Rizala: Sure. I got started in online entrepreneurship, we'll just say that, back in the end of 2012 and I got started with a network marketing company. It was a viral blogging system. Some people might know what that is by just saying that. I did that for almost two years. I really tried to make that thing work. I can't even tell you how much literally just blood, sweat and a lot of tears I put into just trying to get it working. I was barely breaking even. I decided I didn't want to give up my dream of leaving the corporate hustle and living paycheck to paycheck, but I wanted to take a break.
I decided t get into just doing completely different from blogging and I got into building fan pages. I'm making a very long story short of how it happened, but pretty much everyone was talking about Facebook fan pages, and I was like "Let me go ahead and try this out." At the time I was trying to lose weight and stuff, so I was like, "Let me just try to make a weight loss fan page." The weight loss industry, as many people know, is very competitive. Getting likes for that was super ridiculous, ridiculously expensive. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I'm still not getting this." One of my mentors was like, "You know what, do something that you're passionate about. Do something that's very easy to get into to generate content for."
I tried to figure out what do I want to do, what do I want to do? Then next thing you know, I look in the mirror, I'm like, "Why don't I just do it about me and my lifestyle, and being apart of the LGBT community," and that's when I started first I Support Equal Rights, and then I started Lesbian Pride, just because I noticed how much activity the women of I Support Equal Rights, it was just so active. I'm like, "Let me see what happens if I just create one page just for mainly women, LGBT women." That one just pretty much blew up. I like to tell people this because it's very important, but I really only had $5 a day to spend on building this fan page. The reason being was we just got back from Germany to America. My wife wasn't able to work because we were still waiting for her green card.
I was working my job and we were living in California. California's expensive. We were living off my paycheck and off credit cards, and I literally was like, "I shouldn't be spending money on this." I spent like $5 a day every day, which is $150 bucks for about a little less than six months, and I look up and I didn't sell anything. I just look up and I had over a hundred thousand fans, very active community. At that time I was getting hundreds of comments and hundreds, almost thousands of likes. It was crazy. Then I started selling t-shirts on Teespring and making a couple thousand dollars a month, and it was amazing.
Then next thing you know, I was making the same amount of money as I was with my job. You're starting to get a little burnt out because at that point I was barely sleeping. I was sleeping maybe four, five, six hours a day, which isn't good to do. My wife was like, "Okay, you have to give up something," and she recommended I give up my job because my dream was to work for myself and have my own business. I gave up my job, and I don't know if you remember this Felix, but do you remember when Facebook changed their algorithm from see first to their own algorithm where it was like based off engagement?
Felix: Yeah, definitely. I think anybody that started on Facebook, especially back then, definitely felt that as well.
Rizala: Oh man. I felt that so bad. It literally happened right after I quit my job, my engagement, and the crazy thing was the money I was putting in, because I had such high engagement on my fan page, the money I had to put in for advertisement, literally for every $1 put in I'd make maybe $5, and it's because of all the organic engagement I was getting. Facebook was really just letting my posts travel very far. When Facebook made that switch, I really was not prepared for it, and my reach went down. I went from just being able to reach millions of people with a page of a hundred thousand to barely reaching two, three hundred people. My ad costs went up.
I'm spending a dollar, and I was making $1.10, so I was making like $.10. The ROI was still an ROI, but it was barely anything. I wasn't really ready for it. Pretty much it was a lot of up and down from that point. Just launching campaigns and it was a struggle. There was even a point where I had to actually go back and get a job at an elementary school and work as a TA. At that point, I was working as a TA, and suddenly I started making a shift in my mindset of my thinking. I just started generating more content, and I just started really engaging. I went back to the basics pretty much, just engaging with my fans again. Next thing you know, I'm reaching more people. My ad costs, it was going down.
Facebook was just letting my posts be seen. Then it just kept going. I was doing Teespring I was also getting into Represent, which is similar to Teespring, and then finally I bit the bullet and I was like, "What is this Shopify everyone's talking about," and I finally got into Shopify. In August, I started Shopify at the last two or three days of July, August was my first month and I made $10,000. It was crazy. Ever since then, it's been pretty good. Back in February I had my first $30,000 month this year as far as sales revenue goes. It's been amazing with Shopify and just using my fan page as leverage. When people ask me how do I do it, I always say choose something that you're truly passionate about because it's so much more easier to find content, to be engaging, to just not get tired of running the community because that's so important is building a community, being engaged and being passionate about that community.
Not only does it goes a long way as far as the people seeing that you care, but it goes a long way as far as your ad costs. It goes down so much because you're getting so much organic reach. I don't care what anyone says, if you're going to give me free organic reach, I'll take that. I love talking about fan pages and the importance of just creating something that you can be proud of, as well as creating something that you can build a lifestyle off of.
Felix: Well that's the podcast folks. I'm just kidding. I think that's a great overview that I want to basically break down and dive into each thing you just said because I think it's really important. I think at the end of this too, we're talking before the podcast, you wanted to put together a visual timeline of all these successes and failures along the way, which I think is going to be really cool and we'll talk about a link to that in a second or at the end of this.
Let's start at the beginning. You said that you were getting into network marketing. Tell us a little bit more about that. For folks out there that aren't familiar with this, what is network marketing?
Rizala: Network marketing are sometimes called direct sales or MLM, multi level marketing. It's pretty much, even though you say it's not a pyramid scheme, it's kind of a pyramid when you look at it. You have a sponsor and they sponsor you and you sponsor other people and pretty much you make money off of the amount of people you accrue as well as the amount of product you sell from selling product, either to the people that are buying it, who you recruited. It's a way of just referral marketing, if you may say. You refer someone to a product, they buy it, then you say, hey, I have this great opportunity.
I got into it just because of the fact that I like the idea that it was online. I like the fact that you can make money off of the work that someone else was doing as well. I thought it would be quote/unquote "easy." I was completely new to it and the community was amazing. It was amazing community, very active, very passionate. One thing I have to say about network marketing, MLM, they're huge on mindset. That was important because I literally was just drilling, trying to, I guess you can say, almost brainwashed myself in the sense of cleaning my brain of all the negativity and the thoughts of this is impossible, to just starting to believe in myself and believe in the idea that it is possible to live the lifestyle of your dreams.
That was what network marketing did for me, but as far as, I don't know how to say what is it. It's kind of hard to explain in the sense of it's an opportunity to make money online.
Felix: Yeah, it's hard to say without making it seem like a shady or bad thing.
Rizala: That's what I'm saying. That's important to talk about because I'll be honest with you, when I talk about my business now, I'm like, "Yo, this is my business. I don't care. I love what I do. When I was in network marketing, I was like, "I don't know."
Felix: I've heard this I guess suggestion that when you're starting a business, you should start a business where you would be proud to stand on a stage and talk about it. Just thinking of it that way, I think makes a big difference because there's certain things, would you tell your mom about your business or would you be okay talking to people about your business. I think that's a good exercise to go through when it comes to deciding what you want to be doing. Network marketing, this thing that you were doing, you thought it'd be easy to make money online. Maybe you can answer this question. Is there an easy way to make money online, and if you see an opportunity where there's an easy way to make money online, do you investigate it or do you run away for it?
Rizala: It depends on how they market it because I'm very interested in marketing and how people market. I'm not going to join it. I love what I'm doing now, but I love when someone catches my attention. It's like, "Ooh, how did you catch my attention?" I'll show you interest but not necessarily for a product or opportunity, but because of how you caught my attention.
Felix: I love that attitude because I actually had an email that I sent out about this recently, which was about how I think the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones that try to find opportunity to learn from anything and everything, even if you don't necessarily agree with a product or agree with the way they're doing things. I feel like there's always a lesson to be learned and you pull out the things that you need and then apply it to your business rather than being so quick to judge. I think that sounds like the attitude you have, and I think it's a great one to have.
Rizala: I have ADD so I'm like, "Whoa, you caught my attention? You disrupted me? Let me see."
Felix: You're a good Litmus test then [inaudible 00:14:09]. You were doing this network marketing thing, and to get an idea of the time, this was 2012 you said?
Rizala: End of 2012 all the way until just about almost 2014.
Felix: You said about two years, and at what point did you start creating your first Facebook fan page?
Rizala: I started creating it in September. There was some overlap. I'll just say there's definitely some overlap. I started creating it in September. That was my weight loss one, which I wasn't really passionate about. I started creating that, and then I started creating my first I Support Equal Rights and Lesbian Pride in September.
Felix: This is an interesting topic, because you're saying you weren't interested or you weren't passionate about the weight loss Facebook fan page, but you did say before that that you were looking to find ways to lose weight. You were in the ...
Rizala: I was.
Felix: ... I guess attitude, not necessarily attitude but you were in that mindset of this is a topic that I'm interested in. You're saying there's a level even above that. I think there's not necessarily a trap, but a potential trap that other entrepreneurs might run into where they start rationalizing and saying, "Yeah, I could be passionate about that. I'm interested in it. I'm going to get passionate about it." That's I guess almost the direction that you went in because you were interested in this topic but you weren't passionate about it. How can you tell the difference between whether you're actually passionate about a particular business or passionate about a particular industry versus just being interested in it?
Rizala: That's actually a great question because sometimes to me it felt so, that's a really good question. Because the weight loss was because it was something I had to do. It was something that I was interested in how to lose weight and I figured out, let me just monetize this. With the Lesbian Pride it was so natural to me. It didn't even come up as an idea because it was so natural. I was always reading articles, engaging other fan pages, liking videos, watching videos, it just seemed like a form of entertainment. I was just like, "Wait, this can be a niche I can be a part of." For example a lot of people watching boxing or UFC or MMA and they're super passionate about it. They love it. They know all the fighters, they talk about things. They don't necessarily compete in it, but they are so passionate about it, but they wouldn't consider that a niche they can join because they think, "Oh I have to be a fighter."
No, no. Just being someone who is entertained by a niche, it can be used as your niche to monetize. It should be something natural. Before I got started I wrote down everything that I was and everything that I accomplished. I wrote down I'm a wife, I'm a salesperson, I'm a lesbian, I'm this, I'm that. I used to do this, I used to do that. I wrote down everything that I could possibly think of, everything that I've done, my favorite TV shows. That's where I was like, okay, these are the things. Let me try to figure out what I can do, and then when I found it, I was like, "Oh I'm a lesbian. I'm also interested in LGBT issues. Let me research this niche." Then I promise you, almost every single niche has some type of buying power.
LGBT niche has a huge buying power. MMA niche has a huge buying power. You have to get passionate, and then you go, "Oh wow, I can do something. I can pull some revenue out of this." I think that's what I did when I first decided, okay, let me get into this.
Felix: I love that exercise that you went through to really evaluate yourself, and I think that sometimes it's hard to be objective and I guess unbiased and look at ourselves that way, and I think I'm going to record a video about this particular technique that I think works well is just not necessarily to look inside yourself, definitely do that, but if you can't feel like you can't do that objectively or you just want another perspective, go out and ask people that are closest to you to describe you, because I bet that if you went on to your friends and asked them to describe you at that time, they wouldn't describe you as, "Oh she's really interested in weight loss."
They're probably way more likely to say, "She's interested in LGBT issues." If you go out and ask people that are close to you, "Describe who I am," that's a really good way to figure out what you are passionate about. Because like you were saying, the things that you're passionate about are natural and they rise u out of you whether you want to make it evident or not. The people that are the recipients of your passion are going to be the people closest to you and they can pick up on those things. That's I think a great I guess not necessarily idea, but a good exercise to go through is just definitely go through it yourself but then also ask the people that are closest to you to describe it to you.
Rizala: That's great. I love that idea too.
Felix: It's awkward though when you go to somebody and say, "Hey, can you describe who I am," because they obviously don't want to pigeonhole you in a certain way. If you can get them to say, I think it's a great thing to have. Cool. Let's work through this timeline here. You created the first fan page, you said was that in September 2012?
Felix: 2013, okay. About a year into the network marketing business that you were doing?
Rizala: Yeah. You know what, I made a mistake then. I totally forgot. I guess it was the end of 2011 that I joined network marketing.
Felix: Almost two years of you doing that and then starting the first fan page. I guess at that time did Facebook already implement the whole new algorithm for their news feed?
Felix: Not yet, okay. You were able to just start this fan page, and you said you had $5 a month to spend, and you were buying ads? How were you able to get the traction early on?
Rizala: I had only $5 a day, which was like $150 a month. You said $5 a day, a month.
Felix: Okay, sorry, $5 a day.
Rizala: Yeah, just in case. Just in case people are like, "What? Really?"
Felix: Yeah, you can't do much with $5 a month. So $5 a day. What were you doing to get that traction?
Rizala: I was doing page like ads, and I know this kind of controversy, people are like, "That doesn't work." I was doing page like ads and straight up I did not get ... I think my cheapest like was about $.2 to $.3 but it took maybe three weeks to get it down there. What I would do, since I only had $5 a day, is I'd make maybe three or four ads. I think I started off with actually, what I do? I think I did three ads and I would do like one dollar and fifty cents or one dollar and something. I just divided it. It was one dollar, and I kept it super simple. What I would do to find images is I would just Google LGBT pride and whatever image popped up on Google I would just use that image.
Now it's even easier now because Facebook has a way you can use their images, by Shutterstock, I don't know if anyone knows that, but you can just type in LGBT, Gay or whatever, or if you're into golf just type in golf or whatever and they'll actually give you images from Shutterstock which is way better. I would just use those images and I would run the ads for maybe five days, see how long it took Facebook to optimize it, and if it didn't work I would shut it down. If it did work, I'd keep it running. That's pretty much all I did. It didn't take very long at all.
Felix: Cool. I want to get into, as we make our way through this timeline, what you do today because obviously things are a little bit different.
Rizala: Oh yeah, for sure.
Felix: Before we get there, you started this Facebook fan page, got traction. Did you immediate start monetizing that audience or how long did you wait before you started selling you said t-shirts was the first thing?
Rizala: Yeah, Teespring. It took less than six months. I remember I was so reluctant to do it because it was like my baby. It was like, "I have to monetize my baby." It took less than six months just because I wanted to get the community really engaged. Also I was so focused on my job at the time. I was working so much at that job that I needed to just stay focused on that and I just didn't have time to really do nothing. All I could really do was just literally just create the ads, and that took less than maybe twenty minutes and that's all I had.
Felix: You were just spending twenty minutes a day ...
Rizala: Pretty much.
Felix: I think you touched on a really important point, which is I think a lot of business advice, and I totally agree with this too, which is you want to be build an audience first before you start selling anything. What they don't talk about next is the issue that you ran into, because you build an audience first and the best way that I was thinking to do that is just to create content. Content is free though, so you're providing a bunch of value, bunch of value all free, and now you want to start asking your audience to pay you for things, which you never had that kind of relationship with them before because they've always expected free things from you. Did you have this I guess concern about now going to have to ask people to pay me for things when I never did before, and did you have an actual issue with it?
Rizala: I think my thing was I was afraid of unlikes and people, yeah. It was pretty much losing people. I'm over that now. I was definitely afraid of just asking, I was like, "Oh I don't want to lose my fans." Just as much as they grew a relationship with me, I grew a relationship with them. They're people who I reply to every single comment that was on my page. What I would do is on my breaks when there was downtime at my job, I would just hop on my phone and I would just go on my fan page and reply to comments. Like comments or reply to it. I built this relationship, and I wasn't used to that.
The way I intro'd into monetizing was I created my first t-shirt and I didn't put a link or anything, I just wrote, "Hey, would you guys buy this if we started selling it?" The amount of response they gave me was more than enough motivation to start selling. I was like, "Oh okay."
Felix: I like that because you basically, and I've heard this work out well too but not for this particular I guess purpose, but you involved them super early, really early on. Almost like you guys as a group collectively decided to let's sell these things rather than, "Hey, I did this thing," not necessarily behind your back but off to the side and here it is. Now would you want to buy it? You got their feedback early on. I think that's a great technique. Did you have any kind of backlash once you released it even though you took these steps?
Rizala: Yeah, I did. I don't get it anymore. At least I don't see it anymore, because I still hope on my page every once in a while and just go through stuff. Yeah, I got one out of maybe two hundred comments of yes. There was a no. "I can't believe you're selling stuff. How whatever," some really just say some negative, but it was like one out of two hundred. I definitely didn't hone in on that. One thing that feels good is deleting and blocking people. Like, "Oh, I'm just going to delete and block you." That feels good. I do that if someone says something really absurd.
No, if someone says just no, it's just, "Hey, one out of two hundred was fine."
Felix: That's half a percent or whatever.
Rizala: Yeah. Felix: You said that doesn't bother you now. Is it because you're able to do things like block people or was it a mental shift that you went through? Talk to us about why doesn't it bother you now?
Rizala: Totally a mental shift. I just realized there's a fine line between okay, this is my business, this is my life or whatever. It's inter-tangled. I built this. I put my heart and soul into it, but then you also have to remember it's just a Facebook fan page. It was just like being able okay with just not everyone liking what you like. Again, it feels really good to delete and block somebody when they're being really mean. Like, "You know, I'm just going to do this because they thrive off of confrontation."
I think I confronted people maybe once or twice and then I realized it was bothering me more than them. I don't know if it was bothering them at all, to be honest with you, but it bothered me. I was just like, "You know what, I'll feel so much better by just deleting and blocking this person who's being extremely rude." If someone says no, I don't delete and block someone, but if someone's being extremely rude or just mean, it's like, okay, I don't want negativity like that in my life, on my fan page that I built using my own money. I'm not going to allow it.
Felix: Yeah, it's not even just so much an attack on you, but then it can bring down the entire community as well if you let it spread in.
Felix: I want to talk about this in a second too about if you encounter these things, but one great quote that I heard before was I think it was, "If video games have taught me anything, if you're encountering enemies and encountering haters, then you're going the right way," which I think is because you're not taking these steps where you are putting things out there and putting your neck out there and getting love or hate, then you're not really doing anything sometimes. Because if you're not really actually standing for something or making some kind of definitive stance on something, then you're never going to have haters, which means you're never going to have the other side of it, which are people that love what you're doing.
I think this not necessarily an issue, but I think this comes up a lot too with people that have Facebook fan pages is about how to take control of the negativity. Is your direction just to block them or do you try to I guess respond to negativity with your own comments or anything like that?
Rizala: No. It's just a waste of time. They're trolls. People are just trolls. I tell my VA, don't give in to it. Because my VA, she pretty much, I'm pretty sure we'll talk about it later when did I get a VA and stuff, but I had to take a few steps back from just being all about the fan page sometimes. I tell her, "Listen, if someone's being mean or whatever, you go ahead and delete and block them. I trust your judgment." Because it causes too much stress just to let someone ruin your day that you don't even know. I would say the best advice I would give to people is turn on the profanity filter because that will automatically, it hides the comments. It doesn't necessarily block the person, but it hides the comments from your other people seeing.
You put on block words so people are going to say, always people say, "You can find this on Amazon or eBay or this and that," or whatever. This thing is whack or ugly. You can turn it on and just say, "Okay, I don't want these words, any words like this that shows up, immediately hide it." That reduces greatly. Only like ninety percent of the people will see those comments, which is really good. That's what I do. It saves me a lot of time. It saves my VA a lot of time. It saves a lot of stress and just doesn't take a control of our life.
Felix: Awesome. Let's actually get into the Facebook fan page strategies, because I think this is where you have a ton of expertise. In the early days you're saying that you were buying ads. Were you doing anything else other than buying ads to get traction? Let me just ask you that one question. Were you doing anything other than just buying ads to get people to like the page?
Rizala: No. I heard a lot of people, I heard one strategy some people can do if you have a little bit more time is posting in Facebook groups, saying, "Hey guys" or doing it [inaudible 00:30:10]. Just saying, "Hey guys," first maybe ask an admin as well and say, "Hey guys, I got this amazing fan page. Would love it if you can show me some love" or whatever. Some people will do that. I didn't do that. I didn't have time, but I heard that works really well. I just really just bought Facebook likes, that's all I did.
Felix: Once you got to a certain I guess number of likes, were the ads improving in the ROI? Was there anything about having a thousand likes that made it easier to get the next thousand?
Rizala: I guess you would say the ad itself matured. It would go down from $.4 a like to maybe $.2 a like. Also here's something that I really thought was cool. I noticed that people who liked my page were also inviting a lot of other people who liked my page. That's why I was getting so much. If you were to do the math, you say, okay, I have this many likes and I spent this much money, I was maybe spending less than a penny per like. If you were to say, okay, if I take all the likes I paid for or all the likes I currently have, add that together and divide that by the amount of money I spent, it was just less than a penny because so many people were liking and sharing and commenting on my posts, and inviting people to like my page that it just allowed the community to grow really quickly.
The strategy that I would recommend now is still if you're still brand new to Facebook and you've never ran an ad, I would still highly recommend to start with Facebook like ads just because it's easier. It allows you to build confidence because I kid you not, I had so much confidence that when it came time to do ads for Teespring, I already knew what I was doing. I already knew that this was a winning community, these are winning target keywords. I already knew all I had to do was transfer was a few tweaks here and there, and then boom, I was able to make a certain amount of money. I still recommend that as a starting point.
Keyword, starting point for people who are just getting started in Facebook advertising.
Felix: Awesome. I think you have probably seen as I've seen, everyone who's listening has seen the news, the article about how buying ads for Facebook likes gets you a lot of fake likes. What are your thoughts on that? Did you have that issue?
Rizala: No, never. I did read an article. To be honest with you, when I see that and people say, "Oh likes are whack," I completely ignore it because I know it works. It's like, okay, that's what someone didn't have a good time with it. That's the their issue, but for me it worked. Another thing is it depends on who you're targeting. If you're targeting countries that if you're trying to get likes just to have a community or just to have a page full of likes, you can do that. It's very easy. You just target countries like India, sometimes they'll like something really quickly.
The engagement isn't as high sometimes. If I had targeted men for a lesbian pride fan page, I promise you my likes would have been less than a cent. It's how you target. It's not fake likes, it's just people who don't really engage in your page. People always say it's fake, but it's just people who aren't engaging in your page.
Felix: That makes sense. I think this is a really important point about the engagement fact because I think Facebook takes as a consideration and we've all seen those Facebook fan pages where, I think someone actually asked this question in my Facebook group where they said some communities have thirty thousand fans and only two to three likes. Is that the result of you think these quote/unquote "fake likes" or you just think that they're not providing the right kind of content that gets the engagements?
Rizala: It could be. To be honest with you, I do know people who have built their ... There was a method a while ago where people would buy fake likes and what would happen was Facebook had it set. This is before I joined. Someone told me about this strategy. People buy a ton of fake likes, and what would happen was Facebook would immediately move that page higher up on the suggested pages. That strategy was long gone before I joined, started doing this. Now I think if that's the case, that might be the case for some pages, but now I think that's a case for a lot of the pages, they're not providing the content that the person originally liked the page for.
If the person liked the page for MMA, because it had an MMA video on it, but yet all they talk about is eating healthy or whatever, the person just probably really wants to see more MMA content, not necessarily about eating healthy. Even though they're kind of related, the person just is more interested in MMA, if that makes any sense.
Felix: That does. Does that mean when you are creating these Facebook fan page, because obviously you guys are selling a lot of different products but you're not creating a fan page about a specific product, you're creating a fan page about something I guess larger than that, and maybe someone out there wanted to create a fan page they would create about a particular lifestyle that their customer I guess, or ideal customer, was living. When you are creating a fan page, how targeted should the core topic be?
Rizala: As targeted as the person wants it to be, to be honest with you. I know people who have a fan page on a specific dog breed, and they do amazing, especially in Shopify. They sell amazing stuff and they're doing great. I know people who just have it on just regular dogs and they're doing great as well, because it really matters on what you want because you can always do something with it. I think just to veer off the subject real quick, a lot of times people think you have these people who aren't ever going to buy everything, but here's the cool thing. If I send them to my blog, I have AdSense on my blog. If I send them here, I have this and that, I have affiliate stuff on my blog and stuff.
Sure, they don't buy anything from me from Shopify, but I still have a way to monetize. That's something that's really important that a lot of people don't realize, that you can still utilize the audience that you got for something. As far as targeted niche goes, it really doesn't matter. It just matters on how much content that person who creates the fan page is willing to provide for it.
Felix: Makes a lot of sense. Let's talk about the content then. What kind of content are you posting? Maybe walk us through your process for figuring out what to post on your fan page.
Rizala: Honestly, right now this is something that, I'll be honest with you, this is crazy cool, but I use a lot of Instagram content. It's great because it's kind of cool because a lot of people, they don't, I don't want to say a lot of people don't use Instagram on Facebook, but a lot of the super active people on Facebook aren't super active on Instagram. It's easier to take that content from Instagram. I lead the love on. I let people keep their usernames because people like to tag the pictures. I keep that on, that's cool, and I just post it on my Facebook.
The amount of engagement is crazy. Because they're like, "Whoa, cool, a new picture." As far as articles go, what I do is I just go to YouTube and just take off a picture, a YouTube video and I just pop it on my blog and maybe I'll put a banner up for my Pride Designz products, and I just put that up there as well. I keep it super simple.
Felix: I like this about re-purposing content because I don't think there's an issue at all being a curator, because I think a lot of times we think about I have a fan page, I got a blog, and I got to create everything from scratch. It has to come from my mind only, and I'm not looking anywhere else. You take the steps to curate the content to a certain degree, and I think with your blog you at least put your own kind of spin or tweak on it, but I don't think there's anything wrong at all with curating because curation is valuable in itself.
You go to a museum and all of that is curated and there's still value in being a central hub for content. Is it all the content you put out are there pretty much images? What are your thoughts on this? I think there's a lot of conversations about text posts don't work as well as images and video is the next big thing. What are your thoughts on the different types of content for your fan page?
Rizala: I'd say everything works. Nothing doesn't, honestly. Videos are hot right now, that's true, but a lot of people like to take videos from other people and stuff, and from YouTube and then download it, they do all this funky stuff. I don't like to do that, unless someone comes to me and says, "Hey, I want you to do that." Then I'll do it. I just use YouTube and post that. I know videos for a fact work really well. Just linking out to websites still works as well. If Facebook notices people are clicking out, because Facebook doesn't necessarily take the person out and open up a new web browser. If you're on mobile, of course. It actually just opens it up in Facebook.
If you're in the app, you click on a website article, it doesn't necessarily open the article out into Safari or Google Chrome. It just opens it into Facebook. You're reading the articles technically still inside the app. I still get really good traction with links. I have one link that is just going crazy. It's a quiz, and I get like two to three thousand visitors a day. I spent a dollar on it. It's absolutely insane.
Felix: Wow. Give us an idea of the kind of scale. Your two Facebook fan page, how many likes are on there, and then tell us how many comments and likes you usually I guess on average will get for something you post.
Rizala: I Support Equal Rights has a little less than a hundred thousand. That is kind of sort of active. I have took a break from that a little bit, just because Lesbian Pride's doing so well. I get maybe a hundred, two hundred likes, maybe two or three comments or maybe ten at the most. Lesbian Pride on the other hand will get up to three thousand likes on average and maybe a hundred to a thousand comments. If I ask somebody to drop a selfie, I promise you, if you refresh the page in a minute there will be at least a hundred selfies. Sometimes I'll just do drop a selfie hour, and people will just drop a selfie.
What it does is it really just boosts engagement. It really depends on what I'm doing and what I'm asking, but it definitely can get up to a thousand. Shares are average five hundred to a thousand shares for Lesbian Pride. I will say, I'm at three hundred thousand fans, so it's not huge.
Felix: That's great. I'm not sure, I can't do the math in my head, but with three hundred thousand you're talking about thousands of likes, hundreds of comments. I think that's, I've never seen that kind of engagement anywhere else. Is there a strategy to getting this interaction, because I like this idea of asking you to post a selfie, because everyone loves sharing their selfie if they're taking one? It seems like you hit on something. You hit on almost like a call and response technique on the Facebook fan pages that works really well for you with this selfie thing. Are there any other strategies or kinds of interaction posts that work well for you?
Rizala: Yeah. There's several actually. I'll just list as much I have on the top of my head. One is voting. You post two different pictures of two different pictures, you say, "Vote. Who's hotter?" Or maybe two different shows sometimes. Orange Is the New Black versus The L Word, which is your favorite.
Felix: Just real quick, these are voting on two things, right? You're not asking them to pick from like ten different things?
Rizala: No, just two things.
Felix: I think that's important. I saw this really interesting thing too, just a study about how the more I guess options you have on these kind of polls, less people want to vote. I think sticking with two sounds like a good idea. Keep going. Sorry.
Rizala: No, no, no, you're right. It's either a little or a lot. I know that sounds crazy, but it's either two things or twenty-one things. Everything in the middle, they're kind of like, "Eh." What I'll do is I'll post quizzes as well, and that's where I come into the, okay, I put a fifteen to twenty-one question quiz, instead I'll post, "Oh what did you get? Comment below. What did you get?" People will take the quiz and they'll come back on the page just to comment and say what they got. That gets crazy. When you think about it, it's kind of crazy how well they will actually go through, finish the quiz. I use a tool called Play Buzz, and you can go in and create a quiz and stuff like that.
You can see how long people stay on the page. Whenever I post a quiz on my blog, I can see people stay on my page for at least three minutes to finish the quiz, to come back, to comment on my fan page, to say, "I got this."
Felix: Is this the kind of quiz where it's like which city should you live in, that kind of idea?
Rizala: Yeah, but it's more geared towards my community where it's like what type of lesbian are you or how gay are you or how well do you know your LGBT trivia.
Felix: I think this is a really great psychological hack because it plays on two different things. One thing is that people love, love, love, love learning more things about themselves. Everyone's favorite topic is themselves. If you give them a way to learn more about themselves, that kicks them into wanting to participate. Second thing is they love to talk about themselves, but they don't want to come off as bragging. The best way to do that is to get someone else to talk about them. If it's the results of a quiz, they're not saying, "Hey look, I'm this type of person," this quiz determined that. I think that's really great. I've seen it work really well for a lot of different I guess Facebook fan pages and groups is the idea of posting these quizzes.
You said asking for a selfie, voting for two different things, quizzes. Anything else that you recommend listeners try to do if they want to increase engagement?
Rizala: Just to go off really quick on the selfie thing, one selfie that really blows up is saying, I do a selfie challenge. Drop a selfie and add anyone who likes it. That actually goes, the results are ten times that, just a side note. If anyone wants to try that and then switch it up a little bit.
Felix: I'm sorry, what was that? You said add someone that likes it.
Rizala: It's called a selfie challenge. You drop a selfie, and then add anyone who likes your selfie. What will happen, and that causes crazy engagement because everyone is going through all the comments, liking peoples pictures, commenting on peoples pictures, so I'm not even doing anything to create engagement. They're all going through comments, liking pictures, commenting and it creates some crazy engagement. One selfie one time had over three thousand likes on it. It was crazy. More likes than the picture, and I was like, "Wow."
Felix: Sorry, I'm a little dense on this. I just want to make sure I understand. Someone posts their selfie, and then the idea is to add them as a friend, is that what you're saying?
Rizala: Yeah, the goal is, there's two steps. Step one is you post a selfie. Step two is you go through all the comments and you like selfies of other people. If someone likes my selfie, I have to add the person who liked my selfie.
Felix: Okay. That makes sense.
Rizala: If that makes any sense. It creates crazy engagement. What I usually do is I usually put a free gift as a link in the post so that way people, "Oh, there's a free gift," or a chance to sign up for an email list, and then I grab some emails and stuff like that or I'll grab a couple hundred emails for free. No money.
Felix: Cool. I think the most important question out of this, and I've heard this asked a couple of times when I was asking my community what they want me to ask, was about how do you turn those likes into actual buyers? How do you go from likes to purchases? When you're posting this content, is there a call to action? How do you actually drive people? It's great there's all this activity, but how do you actually get them to buy things from you?
Rizala: That's a great question. I actually like when someone asks that question because a lot of times and a lot of marketers say, "Like doesn't equal money," and that's one hundred percent true. Likes do not equal money, but what likes does is it can allow you to equal more engagement because you have a person who's already somewhat warmed up to you. To me this is the formula, likes equal engagement equal clicks equal email equals money to me. That's where I get. I have the opportunity to communicate with you through your email.
To break it all down, I get a like. It's a very high chance that someone is probably going to see my post. They see my post and they like it, and then they engage in it. When they engage in it, they either engage in it by commenting, sharing or even clicking on the link I have in my post, which is usually several different things. It can be sign up for a newsletter, sign up for a giveaway, sign up for my social site as well. It's several different things. Someone can sign up for one of those email lists. If they don't, no worries because they already engaged in it, which allows other people to see it because when you're engaged in it, Facebook allows the post to travel more into other peoples news feed.
Once that happens, I get something from that person. Then if I get an email, then when I'm in their inbox, that's when I communicate with them in a sense. I'm, "Okay, you're on my email list." Let's just say they get on my email list for the giveaway. I say, "Okay, we announce a giveaway once every week. In the meantime, here's a discount to one of my products," and they get a discount, and from there they can decide to either purchase something or they can just hang out until they're ready to buy something, or they'll join another email list from there. It keeps going. I create a circle. You're doing something with me. I don't know what you're doing, but you're doing something.
Felix: I like that. I love that. Two things that you said about that, first I like the funnel that you have set, because you have likes, which means that they're going to be seeing your content. You're posting things, they're engaging in them. They're really, really familiar with you and have you top of mind. Then there's going to be certain posts that you have. I guess not every single post, but certain posts that events that drive them to some place either through a giveaway or I'm not sure if you mentioned anything else, but the basic idea is to drive them to some other landing page that collects the email. Is that right?
Rizala: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Felix: Okay, collects the email and then you have some kind of auto responder set up?
Rizala: I do.
Felix: How do you get them to buy from there?
Rizala: I have an auto responder set up as well as I have scheduled broadcasts. I try to do too much auto responder stuff. Because sometimes the same person will join the same email list twice or something. I just keep it fresh. I have two email auto responders set up, and then I just do broadcasts. They're either joining another email list that qualifies them more into being a buyer, or it gets them to try to buy something, or it gets them to interact. I sometimes send them back to a quiz. I say, "Oh okay, you just joined my email list. Check out this quiz." Keep them in a circle. I try to get to know them, keep them entertained, keep them used to opening my emails, clicking my links, commenting, sharing. I want them to just engage with me. I don't care what you're doing. Just engage.
Felix: I like this attitude. This was the second thing I liked about what you're saying is that sometimes we stress so much about how do we get the funnel, how do we get them from point A to point B, but sometimes there is no direct path. The idea I think what you're getting as is that they're going to be doing something with you to go and expose you somehow. There's no direct path from going from likes to buyers. You just keep them involved, immersed into your brand's universe and pull them deeper and deeper and deeper into it by getting them more and more and more engaged. It's almost like this huge spiderweb that you set up.
Eventually they will hit one of the opportunities where they want to buy from you. I think that's an important point because sometimes we stress too much about, "Oh my conversion rates are dropping here and dropping there," and sometimes it's not a straight path. Sometimes it's really getting them as engaged as possible. I think that's a great point. Can you give us an idea of how large the email list is? Let's say you have three hundred thousand likes on the Lesbian Pride group; how many emails can that I guess equate to for your situation?
Rizala: I'll be honest with you, I'm still kicking myself in the butt for this, but it took me forever to finally design an email list. I would say I'm at about fifty thousand, and I should be at a lot more. I'll be honest, I didn't start until October.
Felix: That's amazing though. Fifty thousand from just three hundred thousand likes and just starting in October. I guess right now that's about six months ago. I think that's a great growth.
Felix: I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of at all.
Rizala: I keep telling people just build an email list. Don't be like me. Build an email list.
Felix: Are you able to see the conversions? Do you ever just come out and pitch a product on the Facebook page or is it all done through the emails?
Rizala: I do and I don't. I don't really go really hard on pitching. I post the product on my Facebook page, so it still gets a lot of organic reach. I'll go, one day I'll post three products and then I won't post anything for a week, and that's because I'm driving traffic to those three products or traffic from another funnel is coming back to those products or one traffic is going to those products. If you were to look at my posts, it either has no link or it has a link to something like a giveaway or something. The goal is to try and get people on the email list. I even try to send them to Instagram. That's another thing.
I'm like, "Okay, check out Instagram," because that's another place where I can communicate with somebody. I don't go very hard with posting too much product. I don't have a daily or twice a day I post a product. I don't do that.
Felix: Was it because you weren't getting the same kind of conversions as email? What'd you change your I guess direction?
Rizala: I never really did. If I were to post a product, it would be just because I'm creating an ad and I would just publish it on the page. It wasn't because I had a schedule. To me, yeah I just don't. I just don't.
Felix: Okay. I think that's a good idea too is just, I've said this plenty of times too and people might be tired of hearing about it, but always drive the followers that you have, the likes, whatever, to an email list because that is the only platform that you have true control over. Email never goes away. The way that I've always thought about these kind of new social media platforms popping up is that think of it as almost an eBay or an Etsy because these social media platforms, they spend a lot of time marketing, spend a lot of time, have full teams building a marketplace of eyeballs at these different locations. A bunch of prospective customers for you.
The problem with being on an Etsy or an eBay is that you don't actually own that customer. At the end of the day, they still own it, so they can shut it down any time and change things and all of a sudden it's gone. I feel like for any entrepreneur out there that wants to go around on social, your only goal is to get all those people, all those eyeballs, all those prospective customers from those platforms onto your platform, because it's going to go away some day and you'll always have your own platform.
Felix: Facebook is going to go away some day. Facebook fan page is going to go away some day.
Felix: Because you have an email list ...
Rizala: Say it ain't so.
Felix: Because you have such a huge email list, you don't depend on it. Not just that, but if another popular social media platform pops up, you can drive all fifty thousand or however many you have at that time to there. All of a sudden you're like the big shot on the new platform and you'll get a lot more organic growth from there because a lot of platforms care about who's the most active on there. I think you're doing the right thing, and I think your message is the right thing too, which is to get started with emails as soon as possible.
We're almost running out of time here. I want to ask you one more I guess big thing about Facebook fan pages, which is not about Facebook fan pages, it's about Facebook groups. I think everyone out there who might be listening is saying, "Why haven't you started a Facebook group," because everyone saying the things that you've heard plenty of times, which is fan pages are not getting as much organic reach as before. Groups is the new big thing. What are your thoughts on that? What are your thoughts on groups versus pages?
Rizala: I'll be honest with you, I just started a group from the fan page, but what I did was I made it a reward. I said, "If you do this, you'll get a reward of being able to join this group." Groups are pretty good. I would say there's a ton of ... I have maybe two thousand people and I would say I get about a hundred new posts every single day. It's crazy engagement in groups. I would say yeah, groups are cool and all, but at the same time, it's a lot of work because you're monitoring things a lot more. Even though you're an admin, unless you want to restrict people from posting, which isn't very fun for them, it's like I feel like more of a babysitter in a group and I feel like I have less control, being okay with having less control.
It's good for training purposes. It's good for community learning purposes, but for what I do in the sense of I'm trying to drive people to certain things, I don't know. To be honest with you, I don't know. I like it in the sense of engagement, but I don't like it in a sense of the lack of control.
Felix: I think you hit the nail on the head there because with Facebook fan pages, you control the topics. Because people can't create their own topics, they have to respond or reply to your posts. You control the main topic everyone should be talking about. Facebook groups, everyone can create their own topic so it's almost like a free for all kind of forum. Literally it's a forum.
Rizala: It's crazy. Oh my gosh, I'm doing this picturing.
Felix: No, I think that makes sense. I guess moving on from there, I want to talk a little bit, close this out, talk a little bit about your actual store itself. I think just real quick, I guess what's your day to day like? How much involved are you with the Facebook fan page versus running your actual Shopify store?
Rizala: I would say my day consists of in the morning after I get situated with exercise and stuff, I sit down and I check my ads first thing. Maybe take me an hour to an hour and a half. The store I will probably add maybe an item or two to the store from whatever, a vendor or something, or supplier or even custom content that I created. You know what, this is the best advice I can give people starting a Shopify store. Just spend one or two days just adding a bunch of items to your store. Just add it. Just add it. Especially if you're starting off with direct shipping, find a supplier and just start adding products because if you just spend a couple days, and you only have eight items, I'm just going to add an item a day, that's not going to get you anywhere.
At least have forty items in your store and then just start going from there and just promoting each item, and maybe spend one week promoting one item and see if that can be a winner. I'll be honest with you Felix, that's kind of a problem that I had is that I had to create less time for myself because I'm less productive when I have too much time. Does that make sense to you?
Felix: I think that's, yeah. It's almost like the more time you have you just learn to fill that time with things that aren't as important.
Rizala: I had to make it so that I only had four hours to spend on my business a day, four to five hours. I had to, okay, I'm going to go work out, I'm going to go do this, I'm going to spend time with my wife, I'm going to try to make dinner or we're going to go out to eat. I'm just going to chill for an hour or two a day because that's what I want to do. I try to spend only four to five hours a day, not consecutively. I spend maybe three hours and maybe two to three hours on my store. Just doing random stuff. I'll be honest with you, I'm literally just the first two hours I spend just with ads and the next couple hours I'm spending just doing random stuff, things store owners do. I don't know.
Felix: I think that makes a lot of sense. I like the idea of limiting your time. I've heard of this. I think John Lee Dumas, I'm not sure if you listened to him or anyone else does, he runs Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast. He talks a lot about this baby affect, which is that a lot of entrepreneurs kick things into higher gear once they have less time or more things, either less time or more at stake because once you have a baby all of a sudden you don't have any time at all to do anything, so you really learn how to prioritize and focus on what's actually important because more time doesn't necessarily mean you can devote it towards the right things. You could be totally distracted and then all of a sudden be doing things that are detrimental to your business. I think that's a really great advice.
When we were talking, I actually remember one thing I do want to ask about Facebook fan pages, which is you were saying you were using ads before to build the likes. Is that still the strategy that you use today where what's working for you today at the scale that you're at with a hundred thousand likes one page, three hundred thousand likes on your main most profitable page? What are you doing now to drive more and more likes to those pages?
Rizala: I do not Facebook page like ads anymore just because the amount of ads and the amount of ad money I'm spending on regular ads. I actually get a ton of page likes without having to do a page like.
Felix: It's just organic sharing?
Rizala: Yeah, organic, or just when you run ads people will like your page from those ads. It's crazy. When you run an ad for, let's say, website clicks, you're trying to get more website clicks, if you click on like I want to see how many people like my page from this ad, it's kind of crazy. There are people who like the page. I guess not only did they click, but they liked it.
Felix: Is it because your Facebook fan page is the one that I guess owns the ad, or are they looking it up afterwards? How are they going from seeing your ad to a product to then finding your Facebook fan page?
Rizala: What I have noticed, this is something, because I actually asked my wife and I ask a lot of people their behaviors when they see ads on Facebook and my own personal. What I usually do is I'll click on the ad. I'll click on the ad, it'll take me to the page, and then I'm like, "Oh, I'm interested," "I'm not interested," and I'll click back. I did like the offer, and I'm interested in the page, so I'll go click on the link for the page. It'll take me to the page, and I'll look on the page and see what they got going. "Oh this is an interesting page." I'm going to go ahead and like the page.
I ask my wife, and I always ask people, "What do you do?" They tell me, "This is what I do." I do that too. They'll do two or three things. They'll click the thing. People who don't buy doesn't mean they didn't give you something. They might have given you also a like too. I don't know. That's my behavior and the behavior I've asked from other people, is I'll click on the ad, and I'll either go back and say I'm interested in the page, so I'll get the page and I'll like the page.
Felix: That makes sense. Cool. In terms of running this entire operation you have going on here, are there any particular tools or apps, either through the Shopify app store or just outside of it, that you really depend on to keep things running?
Rizala: Oh yeah. I'm going to give a huge shout out to my guys at Hextom, H-E-X-T-O-M dot com. Those guys have amazing apps. The banner apps, the countdown timer banner app has definitely increased my conversions. I don't like pop-ups. My people don't like pop-ups, and I still want to provide them with scarcity. I think people need a little pressure. The countdown timer app from Hextom is amazing. It allows you to even just, if you want to just show the countdown timer on just a cart page, it really helps you to increase conversion. Say, "Hey, in less than an hour we're going to shut down the free shipping." That's an app that I definitely recommend.
Another app that I use is Retarget app. People who don't really understand too much about Facebook advertising and they don't like the whole new Facebook pixels, the new thing everyone's asking questions about. Definitely install Retarget app. It takes so much pressure off of you. It's dynamic retargeting, which means after someone visits a certain product, not only will it retarget that person on that product but also relatable products to that person as well. That's really important because retargeting is huge. If you're driving traffic, you need to be retargeting people, so please download that Retarget app. I think those are the only two apps that I really use consistently all the time. No, those are the only two apps I really use all the time.
Felix: Awesome. Cool. Thanks so much Rizala. I think you dropped a lot of knowledge here about Facebook fan pages, a lot of things I think people can get started on immediately or they have a fan page already, things they can implement immediately as well. PrideDesignz.com, P-R-I-D-E-D-E-S-I-G-N-Z dot com. Rizala.com, which is R-I-Z-A-L-A dot com is your personal site. Anywhere else you recommend the listeners go check out if they want to follow along with what you're up to?
Rizala: No. I would just be inside our Facebook group answering questions. If anyone has any questions, they can just refer to your Facebook group, Traffic and Sales, and I'll be in there answering questions. Just if I can give one advice, just be patient and be consistent. Those are the two things that I want to say. Be patient and be consistent, and if you can get those two down and just keep doing what you're doing, it's going to happen. It's bound to happen.
Felix: Yeah. I love [inaudible 01:06:19]. I think that's great advice. You don't even have to be great, if you can just be good or good enough and be consistent, it'll get you really, really far.
Rizala: I promise you.
Felix: I think it's a game of attrition, who can stay in it the longest. It's not necessarily who's best but who's left. Who can stick around and just be consistent. I think that's great advice.
Felix: Awesome. Thanks so much. Again, PrideDesignz.com, Rizala.com, and we'll link all that in the show notes. Thanks again for coming on.
Rizala: Thank you again for having me. I really appreciate you having me on the show. I really like giving back to the community that's given me so much.
Felix: Yeah, you definitely have. Awesome. Thanks so much.
Rizala: Thanks Felix.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the e-commerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit Shopify.com for a free fourteen 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.