Brendan Hufford is a great friend of ours that we have known for years now, we got to know him by being in the same spaces online. Brendan, like us, was a teacher. Now he works with a search engine optimization (SEO) agency and is trying to grow his very own SEO membership site. He knows how to teach way better than people he sees online trying to teach SEO to beginners.
We know that this membership has huge potential and with our help we know Brendan will be back on the show soon with prolific on his membership site!
What You’ll Learn:
- Sometimes you should just quit. (7:15)
- Why start a membership site? (11:00)
- Don’t work for free. (21:00)
- It’s all about access, but not access to you. (25:45)
- How to create urgency the right way. (29:00)
- How to do a challenge (37:10)
Brendan graduated college in 2006 and began piloting online class registrations for kids headed to college.
He decided at that point to become a teacher and climbed the latter through continual education for himself. Brendan earned a masters degree in educational administration. He says, “it turns out if you’re a really great teacher being the boss of teachers is a different job.” He became an assistant principal and after crunching some numbers and doing some research, he realized he was the lowest paid assistant principal in the state of Indiana at the time.
At that point he realized it was no longer worth the hassle and stress to stay in that position. He took a step back and decided to step down from being a principal to a teacher at a different school.
Everyone around him thought he was throwing away his career. However the relief taken off him allowed Brendan to sell his online businesses at the time. Those business consisted of selling a blog and an e-commerce company to two different people. He sold those because he knew they would never be the thing to fulfill his goals.
Brendan didn’t know what to do next but dove into SEO (search engine optimization). He was helping people for free, building case studies.
He hated the constant pressure of wanting to quit his job as a teacher. So, at the end of the school year he took a job at a web-design agency. he says his co-workers were called designers but were amazing at marketing.
After working there for a few years the pieces started to come together for Brendan’s career. All those God-given talents and experiences would come together for his own members and membership site!
Sometimes you should just quit.
It’s not about just having enough money sometimes it’s better to just quit. Sometimes you need to just get away from that job that it bringing you down all the time. Even if society says quitting that job would be the wrong move, but sometimes you should take that an indication to run towards that.
Who wants to be like the rest of society?
We heard something that we love from Elon Musk. He said he loves when people:
- Tell him he’s wrong.
- Prove that he’s wrong.
- Show him the right way to do things.
He sees it as a gift from God because he doesn’t have to take the time to figure it out. Right after that he was talking about processes and he said:
- If it’s taking too long for the process to work it’s probably the wrong process.
The difference between good and great is looking at something that’s wrong and scrapping it.
Do like Brendan, don’t stay in a rut! You are not throwing away your experiences, they will point you to next thing! The right thing.
Why start a membership site?
Brendan has his own website now, brendanhufford.com. He is a big believer that 99% of marketing is having something to talk about, so he writes his take on things there.
He began his site teaching SEO for the people that have tried SEO, are overwhelmed, have been pushed into using SEO. Those are the people that bought SEO tools, spent thousands of dollars on courses that didn’t help.
Brendan figured out that what they needed was someone walking through the process together with him and others in the same boat.
- He knew how to teach SEO. He knew his stuff.
- He is a self-proclaimed online community “junkie.”
- He can explain this better than those “gurus” that sell the courses and never give any support.
He knows he has a tendency to do too much at one time so he did two things: 1) he started SEO For The Rest of Us and 2) started a project called, “100 days of SEO.”
What he soon realized is that some of the ideas he had like having a podcast, blog post, and a ton of content coming out for 100 days was overly ambitious. Now, he has a partner to do that. He didn’t realize all the time it takes to create each piece of content and edit each one.
We know this firsthand because at the start of the year we wanted to start hiring these talks out, full-time. We originally wanted one person to do all kinds of different areas surround the business. What we came to understand was that it was actually going to require 3 different full-time people.
Brendan is still working on prolific content, because he knows he can do it better than what’s being offered online. Because remembers, he did teach for 10 years! He continues to build his audience and get an audience on different platforms.
He launched SEO For The Rest of Us initially offering his beta members lifetime access at $97, giving them access to everything and then never offering it again. He hadn’t thought all that far ahed and launched with that. He did it and it went great it was the most money he had ever made online, making $10,000!
He had sold it so then he had to teach it. He taught it live, recorded it then that became community content. A couple months later he launched it again and doubled the price at $197. This time he got half as many people.He made about the same revenue at $10K.
At that point he realized he couldn’t keep doing that forever. He couldn’t keep making those launches. He has an email list of about 2,000 people and is selective on who he keeps on his list. The thing is, he knew that he would need something better.
What Brendan realized was what he needed to bring to his membership was exclusive access to him.
He knew he could figure out his tiers later. But, what he needed to give was:
- His Slack community.
- His private podcast.
- The 1-on-1 help he gives.
The importance of making promises to your members. (19:30)
Brendan had made a promise to his email list that he wouldn’t launch for another year. Which of course was hard on him because he had to live up to that promise.
When he re-launches it will be open forever and it will be a monthly recurring membership.
This way, it will make Brendan show up for his members.
This is important because right now certain parts of his online business are dead. His Slack group is struggling.
The people that are in are running and doing what they need, they have access to everything. But, it leaves Brendan having to check in with them, supporting them. He loves doing that, because he cares more about his students’ success more than his own.
Don’t work for free.
None of those people with lifetime access are paying Brendan every month, even though he is checking in and supporting them as if they were.
It’s great that he made $10K two different times. However, like he says, “he hasn’t been paid in a hot minute.”
Brendan did start sending out “monthly challenges” to buy into with his email list. What he noticed was people becoming very active.
Lifetime memberships have a place and when done properly in the right niche, they can be great. A lot of time you need several months of building and planning for one, with hundreds or thousands of members already at hand.
However, lifetime memberships are not good for launching membership sites. Because you get into an endless cycle of people not paying you which demotivates you. Then, it stunts your offer because you don’t have room to decide what you’re selling monthly.
The very common mistake here is we think, “use a scarcity one-time price but call it a membership.”
In the first year of our business we probably left $500K on the table. Jocelyn went from $89 to $449/year and we sold more copies at $449.
It’s a process. The thing is that we live and learn moving forward.
It’s all about access, but not access to you.
The simplest way to give people access to you is to do a live Q+A.
- It’s easy.
- You don’t have to prepare anything.
- Just show up and answer peoples’ questions.
Believing that people have to have access to you in your membership is a myth. It is all about access, just not to you.
This is especially true in Brendan’s case. He does a lot of client work, agency work, and he has had such an active approach so far.
It’s ultimately about the access to the result. You can give people access to you with free components. It’s training but it’s also a path.
This is why Brendan’s monthly challenges went so well.
- He was showing a path.
- He was showing the next steps.
- He is basically showing them the first page of the blueprint.
People don’t need every bit of your knowledge at hand. What they need is a blueprint. They also need access to each other in a community.
When people see each other, talk to each other, relationships start to form in that community. That creates less stress of trying to have access to Brendan because they have each other.
Now, access to you is a strong component. We are strong believers in the difference between a subscription and a membership. In a subscription you have access to content. This is like Netflix, Netflix is a subscription service. A membership is lead by a leader but that leader still doesn’t always have to be there.
You can actually appoint and raise up leaders around you to lead different things. Can do member calls, al kinds of things.
It’s about access to the leadership and coaching.
If you rob people the opportunity to walk through together and problem solve then they don’t grow. You can not lead a membership that way.
How to create urgency the right way.
Brendan launched a membership the way he launched an online course. This is what we don’t want to do. It was great at first, but it’s not a way to get recurring revenue or create lasting urgency.
The best product is the intersection of what your people want and what you’re willing/able to give them.
Think of the launching of a membership like the launching of a plane. It goes up at first and then it levels out. Launching is not like launching a rocket where you have this big explosion.
Hype it up a little bit and let people know you’re launching, have a grand opening on launch day. Then you’re going to level out. Throw in some bonuses and offers that will disappear to create urgency for you. Throw in discounts that will create scarcity.
Think about retail stores. They don’t open and close their doors on grand opening. They usually have a soft opening through invitation and let people know what the problems are. That way when you launch you don’t have those issues.
You are planting seeds and learning how to get better every day. Be consistent over time that way you give yourself a chance to succeed.
Here’s Brendan’s intersection of what he wants and what his people want:
Brendan’s people clearly want challenges. He has one challenge that people can do for free. He can continue to do that every month as his lead magnet. Open the free challenge get a bunch of results, build a little Facebook group (that will continue to grow) convert all those people into members then you wait. Open the challenge up again the next month.
Inside Brendan’s community he can totally do more challenges because people want to learn more in-depth SEO knowledge-based challenges.
How to do a challenge.
Imagine Brendan’s membership looked like this:
Brendan starts announcing challenge for the next month in the last week of the current month. Let’s say it’s June and he his preparing his email list for July’s challenge that will be in the first week of the month.
Let’s say the challenge is focused around creating a website. (We think he needs two free challenges that he rotates every over month focus on beginners).
The last week of June he has ads going to help build his email list. Make the challenge something cheap, something people will pay for.
Brendan does the challenge the first week of the month. After the challenge everybody has a result and are happy. He tells everyone, “this is awesome. But guess what we’re doing inside the community next week? We’re starting our two week _____ SEO challenge.”
There is a natural progression here: launch the challenge for a week, get a bunch of buyers off your list, next week tell people how you do those every month in the community and have all things great things you offer. Nest a Q+A in the middle of the two week challenge. The last week you start over and get ready for the next month.
We want Brendan to focus on finding people that want to learn SEO, find people who love challenges, sell them challenges as their community.
We hope you loved this week’s episode of the Flipped Lifestyle Podcast as much as we do!
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