Joel Comm is a pioneer of the digital world. Responsible for one of the first 18,000 website on the internet, an early Apple app store success story with his best selling iFart app, and the leader in the make money online with Adsense model.
Add to that list 9 books which include The Adsense Code, Twitter Power and Kaching, there is no doubt that Joel Comm has an impressive credo.
On the show Joel and I discuss content marketing, the role of a book in building authority online, Google Helpouts and much more.
- Content Marketing.
- Turning Expertise to Profit.
- Why You Should Write.
- Google Help Outs.
- The Paid Expert.
Show / Hide Transcript
Hey there listener! Welcome back to Traffic Jam. I am your host James Reynolds, and super stoked as always to have you here with me on today’s episode. We’re episode #40 and we’re back after a short hiatus in recording; we did take a break for a week or two. Glad you could be back here and what an episode I’ve got in store for you; we’ve got pretty much everything covered on today’s show. Everything from ad sense to content marketing and from apps to entrepreneurship and that’s because my guest today has a wealth of experience online. Now, get this – he got his first computer way back in 1980 which is the same year incidentally I was born. He had one of the first 18,000 websites on the World Wide Web way back in 1995 before many of us have even found the internet! This guy has done deal sites, AdSense sites, gaming sites, applications. He has been blogging since 2003 and he’s written 9 books no least, including The AdSense Code, Twitter Power, and Ka-ching! So that probably gives you a few clues as to who today’s guest is. But, you are not going to get that interview just yet, I am going to tell you what is coming up. We have of course the one minute traffic tip, we have this week’s news in traffic, and then of course we play out Traffic Jam with the traffic jam, a musical jam chosen by my guests today.
My guest today is Joel Comm, he doesn’t need much of an introduction really because he is a very well-known name in the online space, he’s been around for some time and certainly achieved a lot, and pioneered much during that time, he’s going to be sharing much of that on today’s interview which I know you are going to love. Joel and I first met back in December of last year where both of us are speaking on an event that I co-organized called the Middle Ease internet summit and ever since then I have been trying to track Joel down to get him on the show but he has a very, very busy travel schedule that it has taken us a long time to slot it in but anyway, super happy that we can make the time to put this interview together. I am going to leave the interview at that and here’s Joel Comm for today’s interview. Hope you enjoy it!
James: So this is Traffic Jam episode #40 and joining me and you of course, today, is the one and only, the man, the myth, and practical internet legend, Joel Comm. Joel, how are you?
Joel: I’m a myth? I’m not real apparently.
James: There you go, you evade people. You work in mysterious ways.
Joel: It’s just mythic and it is kind of funny but hey, thanks and I am glad to be here.
James: Awesome! I am going to ask you to lift the lid with my first question, if I were to take a sneak peek inside your Google analytics and look at the traffic going in to all of your websites, what would I find as the #1 traffic source for Joel Comm right now?
Joel: You know what, it is very organic really. I have always been very organic, I don’t buy a lot of traffic. if I am promoting a product and bringing affiliates onboard, and certainly they’ll drive a lot of traffic but you’ll be interested to know that I sold of my largest content sites a few years ago and most of what I am doing now is not pure content. I mean there is my blog that I create content for but that aspect of my business is something that is not a strong part right now.
James: So you are talking about the AdSense sites that you have become famous for?
Joel: Yeah, finally I sold those and the sum that I sold them for was nothing to sneeze at so it was very much worth moving on from that aspect, I still teach AdSense, I’ve got a new edition of my e-book that’s just about ready to launch so there is plenty still to say about it It’s just personally I have made my money there and I have moved on to some other things.
James: Well, perhaps we’ll talk about some of that upcoming but of course the premise of Traffic Jam is to get the top experts in their fields to reveal the very best traffic getting secrets. You of course did the same with your book Click Here to Order, where you gathered 40 of the very best marketers and ask them to reveal the secrets to their success be it all which a few years ago now I guess but what did you gain from that process of writing that book and you have been able to apply and learn lessons from in your own business and in recent years?
Joel: What I loved about that book so much is that the opportunity just to sit down and talk to my peers and discover just like myself, we all kind of ended up making money online just figuring it out. There weren’t e-books to read or teachers to train us. We jumped in because we thought this World Wide Web thing was cool and we discovered ways to make money and then we wrote books and we began training and it was like pioneering the Wild West and discover the stories of John Reese – he was deeply in debt before he discovered the traffic secrets. Jeff Walker created a product in the financial sector that was his first product launch where he learned and honed the skills on the product launch formula. Armand Morin was a vacuum cleaner salesman before he became an internet marketing guru with so many successful products and seminars. We are all just regular people that are willing to take risks. And that’s what entrepreneurs do. We take risks, we try things and we are okay with them failing sometimes because the more failures you have the more likely you have that huge success, and that’s why I do so many things at one time. I just love to play in a lot of different sandboxes and build things and sometimes they fall flat and there is nothing there and other times we build a castle and it’s a lot of fun.
James: Yeah, well let me ask you a little bit about that because you are very much an earlier doctor online, I think according to your bio you are one of the first 25 thousand people in the world to have a website, you’ve got some early success with the iPhone app that reached #1 in the iStore worldwide and you’ve pioneered the whole make money online with the AdSense thing so you’ve clearly got a good eye for an opportunity and you prepare to take a few risks but what kind of method or frameworks do you use to analyze perhaps a market, a business opportunity, or maybe even a traffic source that has kind of enabled you to get that success so consistently?
Joel: The first thing that I do is I look at what interests me personally. If there are a lot of ways you make money online and I have had people tell me here you should do this you should try this, and they may well be right and they’re great means of making money but if they don’t interest me personally, if there’s not something that ignites a passion and the desire to pursue it, then the money is not going to be enough to do that and I won’t pursue it. The first thing for me is – is this something that’s cool? When I built my first website to create content and do game reviews and put this thing on the internet. When I filmed the reality show it was because I enjoyed reality TV and I knew YouTube was on the rise and I thought it would be great to do apprentice me in YouTube, let’s create this reality show. When the iPhone came out, I had to buy one. I was one of those people that bought the iPhone and paid $600 for it and it was fun and I did not gripe when they lowered the price to $400 because I paid what I thought it was worth and when they said we can make apps, I said we have to make an app! This is cool! Though it really starts there, and then I evaluate it and say, do we have an idea that is feasible? Can I do this? And can this be profitable? Or, will this just be a whole lot of fun? Because not everything I do is there for profit, many things I do is there because I enjoy doing them and what those usually do is that they reinforce my brand as as you say, a pioneer and somebody who things of new and creative ways to do things. That to me, I enjoy that designation more than hey he made a million bucks on you know that app or whatever.
James: Yeah, and that kind of thought what might be non-profitable ventures or some of those passion projects turned out to be some of the most money?
Joel: That is true! You never know when you are going to hit – I think when you take your eye off; as an entrepreneur, when it is not all about the money, you are more likely to be engaged in what you are doing and it is going to be important to you, and you know the adage to some degree is true. If you do what you love, the money will follow.
James: And you follow through, yeah. We were first introduced I think on the Middle East internet, an event that I was co- organizing and of course where we both spoke at, I seem to remember from that conference that you spoke and presented on a topic which I think was on how to become a recognized expert from memory and you talked a lot about publishing and you encouraged others to write their own book; you’ve written nine or more books so I am guessing the whole book thing worked out pretty well for you.
Joel: I am a big fan of books. I think the book is the single greatest thing you can do to elevate your credibility in the market.
James: Yeah, and you’ve had a few that are very well recognized – The AdSense Code, Twitter Power. Do you think that has really been responsible for really positioning you online Joel and giving you the kind of profile that you have been able to achieve?
Joel: Yeah, I do. I think it’s just one more thing. It is a stack of bricks where each one is a different accomplishment because I have done so many varied things and even my books, from book to book, they’re such variety; one’s teaching people how to make money on AdSense and the other one is training how to use Twitter for business and another’s about five ways to make money online. We’ve got the biography, you mentioned Click Here to Order and my more recent book So What Do You Do? is inspirational and entrepreneurial stories from over 40 co-authors so there is a lot of variety and that allows me to position myself in a lot of different arenas.
James: Yeah, well let me ask you about that book which you spoke about the five general writing tips that gets revenue online, I think it was called Ka-ching! and I guess that was a few years ago now, would you still have the same five methods of generating revenue online as you would today or has your viewpoint on some of those things changed a little bit?
Joel: Well, what I did with this book, while there are many ways to make money online, I tried to focus on the content that somebody would generate based on their own knowledge, passion, talent, skills, abilities or personalities. So what can you do for a business based on who you are and so the five ways that I elaborate on are creating content sites; they can be monetized with advertisements and in-text links like AdSense and doing affiliate programs where you sell other people’s stuff through your content sites, creating your own information products which can take a variety of formats, creating membership programs that generate ongoing revenue stream and then the highest level is having a mentoring program where you can have people pay you to share your knowledge and expertise. Now there are a lot of ways to make money online but those five are still a time-tested and proven model for monetizing your content and who you are and they all lead to Ka-ching!
James: I was waiting for the Ka-ching button, I think I even had that, did you have an app with the same sound a few years ago?
Joel: I do. Ka-ching! app is out there, there is a great story in that whole thing itself, did you know that our own app initially got rejected by the iTunes app store and in 2010 they said it had minimal user functionality. If you go to YouTube and just search for Joel Comm Steve Jobs, you’ll see a video appeal that I made to Steve who was then the acting CEO of Apple. It was a very humorous video appeal on the way that they are reviewing and approving apps in to the store and it got a whole bunch of attention and got me published on TechCrunch and the app actually got approved in a few weeks as a result so it is kind of fun to go back and see how taking a risk by going right to the top worked.
James: Yeah, and this was – was it the iThought app? Is it the one?
Joel: No, no.
James: The ka-ching app itself? AH, because you also got rejected, or you thought you might get rejected right? With the one that made the big bucks, right?
Joel: Right, we thought we might get rejected when we heard that a competitors apps which got registered before ours was rejected and so we waited and then we ended up submitting it, it took a couple of months but one day we were pleasantly surprised when it got approved and of course the rest there is history.
James: Yeah! It kind of worked out alright for you! Now, listening to one of your own recent podcasts, you talked a little bit about Google Help Outs which you held as the big new opportunity online, I think I’d like you to explain a little bit about what Help Outs are because it might be an alien concept to some, then perhaps you can explain why they’re the next big opportunity on Google and potentially how our listeners can leverage it themselves.
Joel: Sure! Well, you know Help Outs is really is really Google’s attempt to monetize Google Hangouts functionality that they have created. Everybody has pretty much done Hangouts right now and if you haven’t, hangouts.google.com allows you to video conference with up to 10 people at one time using their live video streaming technology and there is a lot of cool features that you can use their including sharing whiteboards and a chatroom where you can type text and share links as well as talk and you can wear funny hats, it is kind of gimmicky but a lot of people are now using Hangouts to do webinars and tell a seminar and be able to share a screenshare and so what they have done with Help Outs is they’ve wrapped this interface around it that allows people who are experts in a field to give help to real people in real time using their e-commerce interface. You can go to helpouts.google.com and you’ll see there’s a number of categories and maybe you want to know how to cook a certain chicken dish for dinner, and you can go on and you can see there are experts in cooking and if there is someone that is available, they might be willing to give you a free Help Out, or it might be paid where it is metered by the minute or perhaps it’s $10 for 30 minutes. Whatever it is, the person giving the Help Out sets it and this gives you the opportunity to put yourself out in front of people who need help right now. And to charge them for that Google processes everything through Google Wallet and the person giving the Help Out keeps 80% of whatever the fee is. If you don’t want to charge and if you just want to give free ones, that’s great lead gen because we all know if you give yourself away for 5-10 minutes you share your expertise with somebody, they are more likely to buy something from you in the future so whether you do the lead gen to brand yourself or whether you just charge outright for the Help Outs that you give, it is a great opportunity. In this day and age, we want help on a subject matter and we want it now and Help Outs lets you do it on demand and we’ve actually created the first course on it, it’s called the paid expert so if anybody goes thepaidexpert.com, they can take a look at our course there that tells you everything you need to do about how you monetize and get started with Google Help Outs.
James: Nice! I will make sure that the link to The Paid Expert is included in the show notes but it is pretty easy to find. You have been trying this yourself of course, I think Joel. What sort of success have you got with Help Outs?
Joel: I tied it for a couple of weeks and probably did about 15 of them and people were very happy with it and I charged $500 an hour for consultation and one on ones with people but for the sake of testing Help Outs I charged $40 for 15-20 minutes Help Outs and I did a number of them, recorded some of them and really help people out, well worth their time to get some tips from me.
James: Another thing you have been putting a bit of your time recently is the Joel Comm Show which is of course your podcast. What seems to be your online personality so to speak, are planning their own show or about to launch their own show? What have you done to always get your podcast to stand out and kind of be a bit different?
Joel: Well, you know, I am no stranger to podcast, I have been broadcasting back in 2007 and I’ve had a number of different shows and the current show you mentioned is actually in hiatus right now, I have not done since January this year because of all the travels. It was taking too much time and so one of the things I have been doing is trying to figure out what I really want to do with the podcast because I really enjoy doing them and what format would allow me the greatest freedom to be able to do it regularly and bring the greatest value and so I kind of put it on pause for the moment although there is a bunch of episodes on iTunes that many are evergreens so if people want to look the Joel Comm show they can go and pull those down and learn some pretty cool stuff.
James: Yeah, well one thing I certainly noticed about your podcast is you seem to have very high production values and the show format really felt like a full blown radio show with music interludes and sections, it was well structured and probably beats most of the pre-ambling voice style podcast that you hear from so many but I guess the flip side of that is it takes a bit longer, right?
Joel: It does, and I produce it all myself. I am a former disc jockey and I worked in production before and so I chose the music and wrote the scripting and hired the talent for the voice overs and actually edit it all myself – every episode, and that’s what takes so much time and to continue doing it this way, I am not sure I have the bandwidth for it but I will be back, there will be a show, it might be a different name but I have got some ideas and I am formulating them right now.
James: Good, well keep us up to speed with that, we’ll certainly make Traffic Jam listeners aware of that once you put the shows out again so that would be awesome but I guess you have done some pretty good things in your time but I am sure the roads have not always been paved with gold and you’ve made some mistakes along the way, Joel, what is your biggest failure up online?
Joel: Wow! There’s so many! But if we talk in terms of monetary, just to categorize it, year ago, probably starting 2008, I put lots of money and had staff create a mobile marketing platform that was ahead of its time using SMS messaging and put a lot of effort in to it, a good six figures. And because I was distracted with so many projects, it never got the attention that it deserved. And I tried to sell it after I realized I wasn’t going to market it and I was not able to do that and finally, one day, I just shut it down. I just said, that’s it. I am going to stop paying for this and I am just going to shut it down and let it go. What’s really interesting, instead of grieving the end of this dream, of the product that I thought would be widely successful, I felt free because I stopped paying for it and it felt like in that moment, I stopped failing. I wasn’t a failure anymore, it was done. I think there’s a quote there, maybe a tweet that I need to make around there.
James: I am sure many of our listeners can resonate with that. It’s like the pain in the bum client who pays really good but just demands your time and you feel like you did not want to let go of them because financially they are potentially good or maybe are good but when you let them go you get that freeing feeling and that sense of release just to move on to other stuff certainly resonate with that. Good! So you have been online for some time, you’ve built your first website way back I think before even many of us have discovered the internet so I guess Joel it would be fair to say that you’ve got a broader perspective than most, what advice would you give a new business owner starting out online right now?
Joel: Don’t chase the money! Figure out where you bring the greatest value to the world around you. What is that thing that you’ve got a firm grasp on this topic, I know something that you don’t know and when I share this with them it is going to make an impact on their lives, it is going to make a difference, maybe it will inspire them, maybe it will train them to be better at what they do, maybe it will entertain them. Whatever it is, figure out that thing that will makes your heartbeat, which drives you and then you want to figure out how I bring this to the world. Is it through a podcast? Is it through a video? Is it through content that I am going to write? Is it through social media? What am I going to create? Is it a digital product? Is it a physical product? What can I do that can make a difference? And I think that is the always obvious choice to pursue.
James: Yeah absolutely! What’s really making you tick right now? What are the passion projects for Joel Comm at the moment?
Joel: I’ve actually got a number of things in the works apart from what I just shared with you, I am not really prepared to release them, they are all in the stage where they are all seedlings or they are getting ready to come up to be full oak trees and I am kind of holding on to my cards until I am ready to announce them.
James: We’re not going to get a Traffic Jam exclusive then Joel?
Joel: There is no exclusive with you. Some of them are really significant if I can pull them off. My To Do list is incredibly long and I try to work with smart joint venture partners that can really get things done because I am just one guy, I used to have a team of 38 people, I am now a solo-preneur again which I love. I work at home, I am enrolled in what I call a 12 step program and that it’s 12 steps down from my bedroom to my office downstairs and I love it! I love the lifestyle, I loved the staff, they were very talented and we did so many amazing things but the season of life I am in right now, I really enjoy the free lifestyle that I have working at home once again.
James: Nice! I guess I have kind of a hybrid model of that, I work twelve steps from my bedroom as well but I’ve got a reasonably sizeable team as well but I enjoy the freedom so anyway, I appreciate your time today Joel, and of course your expertise, where should our listeners go to find out more about you and perhaps connect with you online?
Joel: I am the easiest guy to find because apparently I am the only Joel Comm in the world, so JoelComm.com and in any of the social sites I am that guy.
James: Awesome! Thank you Joel, and to you the listener, to get links to all of these resources mentioned in today’s show along with links mentioned in Joel’s social media profiles and of course his website, visit TrafficJamCast.com. So Joel, thanks once again!
Joel: You bet James, take care!
This Week’s News in Traffic
So to the first story this week, we go to the news item I picked up from Tech Crunch and all about Facebook who have come under quite a lot of scrutiny recently from marketers complaining that Facebook page posts are just no longer appearing in news feeds. It is a story that we have spoken about too in the recent weeks. Well, Facebook’s vice presidents of ads product and marketing Bryan Boland has come back with a bit of a rally saying this is really promotion happening because there is an increase in users on Facebook and a huge increase in the number of pages those users like. He said those have grown 50% in the last year resulting in more competition in the news feed. He also pointed out that several other online platforms just use a real time feed, meaning you are far less likely to show up in those types of scenarios, so he’s really saying that there is not much you can do about it really, this is just the way with Facebook now – out there it is just really harder and harder to show up. So check that story out, you’ll get a little bit more context by reading the post itself and it will of course be linked off to within the news section of today’s show so check that out.
The nest story comes from LinkedIn who are following suit where Facebook and Twitter have gone and that is to add a large cover photo to LinkedIn profiles. This feature is only available right now to premium options but LinkedIn are saying that it will be available to all LinkedIn profiles in the coming months. LinkedIn have also announced a few additional features for premium users, the first of which is a keyword suggestion unit which is aiming to improve your profile and optimizing it to be found on LinkedIn searches. The second update they’ve made is to open your profile and fully visible to all LinkedIn members. And the last one is the ability to see a full 90-day list of all people who have viewed your profile and accessed the top 100 votes for how your rank versus your connections and company peers. A few updates happening to LinkedIn, these are, as I said, only available to premium LinkedIn users which incidentally starts about $10 per month so if some of these features sound like they might interest you then it might be the time to go look at premium LinkedIn membership. Otherwise, wait on a bit, they will be released to other members in the coming months.
The third story this week comes from Google who have announced a new programmatic market place for premium video ad inventory called Google Partner Select. There have only been a few companies invited so far, Time Inc. being one of them and it allows publishers to sign on to sell their premium video inventory through the new exchange. Google has also announced the launch of a new direct exchange for premium video inventory through double click to allow advertisers to make reservation-based buys with specific publishers in a more streamlined fashion than the traditional process of negotiations and insertion orders. So head on over to TrafficJamCast.com and the current episode page for more details on that story.
In other news from the web, Pinterest releases a self-service dashboard for promoted pins. There is a story out that Facebook and LinkedIn may have to implement the EU’s Right to be Forgotten just like Google are having to and also, Google have made some updates to end to end email privacy which will hopefully protect you a little bit more in email exchanges so there are a few other stories, they will of course be linked off to in the episode page of today’ show.
Thank you to all the iTunes and Stitcher reviews that just keep coming in, thank you to all of you who have submitted one either iTunes or Stitcher. If you have not done so already, I’d love it if you did. Please head on over to iTunes.com or Stitcher.com and leave a review and rating for the show and if while you are over there, if you haven’t yet subscribed to Traffic Jam, hit the subscribe button so you’re the first to get the upcoming episodes.
The One Minute Traffic Tip
So a super quick tip this week that may be so quick it may just take about 30 seconds. Let’s see how fast we can do it. It relates to email marketing and the name of the game with emails of course is to get your emails delivered and then opened an to ensure that happens you want to ensure that your email broadcast software account is in good standing so it is marked as safe and your emails get delivered more often. To ensure that happens, you want to delete from your account anyone who is not opening your emails. You also want to delete from your account anyone who has their email status set to No that will ensure you have a higher percentage of email going through, and of course you want to ensure that only people that have requested to be on your email list get signed up and that can be done with double opt in or just by asking people before you add them to the list. That will ensure you have a high delivery rate and you avoid those email spam filters.
Thank you listener for listening in to episode #40 of Traffic Jam, I will be back next week with another content packed episode where I will be diving deep in to the topic of video blogging so stay tuned for that one. In the coming weekend, if you haven’t done so already, remember to subscribe via iTunes and Stitcher radio and for a direct link to all episodes, go to TrafficJamCast.com where you can find past episodes as well as join the discussion on this episode and of course get all of the links and resources mentioned in today’s show. Also, head on over to veravo.com which is the home for all of my traffic tips and training where you can also learn how I can help you get more traffic via the search engines.
Now we end this week’ show as we do every show with the traffic jam chosen by my guest today Joel Comm, so this is the track that Joel has chosen, it is a piece of classic Genesis from 1973 and the track title is called Firth of Fifth, so here it is and enjoy the track play out and I’ll see you back here in about seven days from now. Bye!
- Joel Comm’s Appeal to Apple
- The Joel Comm Show on iTunes
- Google Help Outs
- The Paid Expert
THIS WEEKS NEWS IN TRAFFIC
- Facebook Explains Disappearing Page Posts
- LinkedIn Adds Cover Photo to Profiles
- Google Partner Select Launched
- Pinterest Self -Service Dashboard
- Facebook Might Implement EU’s Forget Me
- Google Email Privacy Updates
ONE MINUTE TRAFFIC TIP
- Make More Effective Email Marketing by Cleaning Your List
THE TRAFFIC JAM
- Genesis – Firth to the Fifth
Enjoy the episode? I’d LOVE to hear from you. Please post your comment below.