Tommy Griffith used to run SEO for big businesses – 4 years at Airbnb, and before that 2 years at PayPal. Then in 2017 he decided to turn his training side business, ClickMinded, into his main occupation. With projected 2019 revenue of $490k for 10 hours work per week, spending 2018 working on automating the business has clearly paid off!
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From Finance to Tech
Tommy has been doing search engine optimization for just over ten years. He got into the space circuitously and was largely inspired by reading Tim Ferris’ book, The 4 Hour Work Week. Tommy graduated from University at the beginning of America’s financial recession with a degree in Finance.
Like his classmates, Tommy was planning on going into the New York banking world. But the situation was not what it once was, and the first job he applied for at one of the oldest banking institutions in America went bankrupt just days later.
When he read the book The 4 Hour Work Week at that juncture in his life, Tommy picked up on Tim’s advice to offer an information product about something you know. Tommy had started a gag Fraternity while in College and ended up writing an eBook about starting a fraternity.
He changed the price around—going low and then high until he found a sweet spot in which the book began to sell. This experience ignited Tommy’s love of search engine optimization and he worked his way into a job at Paypal.
Tommy says he is really biased about SEO but points out that it functions very differently at a big company like Paypal or Airbnb than what an eCommerce entrepreneur would want. Much of what he dealt with at those companies was stopping major mistakes from happening from code and design development teams that could actually de-rail and de-index the sites from Google.
Top SEO Tips
Tommy says that SEO falls into three major buckets, with lots of detail and nuance to dig into in each category. When approaching optimization, it’s important to hit these three major elements.
- Relevancy or on page optimization: Ensuring pages are designed with lots of relevance for the users you are targeting.
- Authority: Creating authority, which Tommy says in a nutshell is basically link building.
- Technical: Making sure technical optimizations are in place.
ClickMinded is a digital marketing training platform for entrepreneurs and marketers that Tommy started while he was still working at Paypal. He actually built the blueprint for the class as part of his job in an attempt to onboard people into digital marketing more smoothly.
Tommy kept the momentum going when he switched jobs to Airbnb and continued to refine and add to the class and began selling it. Eventually it eclipsed his salary at Airbnb. He’s managed to get some of the biggest names in the business to help teach the courses and can offer the expertise of major players at companies like Airbnb and Lyft.
Listen to learn how Tommy built the business alongside his full time job.
Picking a Platform for an Information Product
Selling classes and information looks a lot different than selling a traditional retail product and the platform the team uses reflects that. ClickMinded eventually settled on WordPress, and Tommy jokes that he has single handedly tried every single learning management platform and has made a lot of mistakes along the way.
Within WordPress, the team uses Teachable and a plugin called Thrive Cart with everything held together by Zapier. Tommy now has a small team including a video editor, two content team members a general assistant, and an employee who focuses on analytics, analysis and the development of their popular Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) products.
The ClickMinded business model is 90%-95% inbound marketing based. Tommy says their system starts with a free video that draws people into the business where they are then able to convert paying customers. Like any information business, Tommy says that they offer most of their content free and totally recognizes and freely admits that all the content they provide can be found from free sources.
But—he also also emphasizes how taking a course can speed up that process significantly and save people a lot of time and hassle.
Most businesses have a moment that feels like its boom or bust and Tommy says that moment came for ClickMinded after he and some key partners had made the full time jump.
Even while they were worried about keeping the business alive, the team made the strategic decision to invest heavily in automation for those aspects of the business that weren’t providing immediate returns.
Tommy says that they successfully automated the business by articulating their customer avatars heavily and were able to offer them the right products at the right time at the right price. It was a risk to invest so heavily in aspects of the business that weren’t going to pay off for a while, but Tommy says it was the right thing to do for them and now the company runs primarily on their drip campaigns
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
- Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Keyword Research. There are so many problems you will solve in your business by doing really good keyword research.
Tool Top Tip
- Ahrefs: SEO authority tool—best archive available.
Growth Top Tip
- Remove low authority, low traffic pages from your site. Don’t create unnecessary URL’s that aren’t helping you. Double down on the pages that are working and get rid of the rest!
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