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Graham Cochrane

Graham Cochrane is an entrepreneur, YouTuber, and business coach whose mission is to help other people start their own businesses. In this episode, Graham shares how spending his time and effort serving others has served him well. He and Chris talk about non-traditional ways to earn a living being creative, how to build a community, and why you don’t need to be an expert to teach.

You don’t need to be an expert
You don’t need to be an expert

You don’t need to be an expert

Ep
185
Apr
20
With
Graham Cochrane
Or Listen On:

All you need to do is help people.

Graham Cochrane is an entrepreneur, YouTuber, and business coach whose mission is to help other people start their own businesses.

You might be thinking, “Great. Another online business guru telling me to sign up for their seminar while they pose in front of a rented Lamborghini.”

But you would be wrong.

In 2009, right after the financial collapse, Graham was laid off. He and his wife had recently purchased a house and just had their first baby. Not a great place to be.

After struggling to find work and being unable to make enough through freelance work, Graham saw an opportunity, and a side project was born.

Graham had unintentionally founded The Recording Revolution, the world’s largest online audio recording and music production resource.

Years later, that little side project evolved into a seven-figure business with over twenty-thousand customers.

The magic formula? Serve others.

In this episode, Graham shares how spending his time and effort serving others has served him well. He and Chris talk about non-traditional ways to earn a living being creative, how to build a community, and why you don’t need to be an expert to teach.

Graham was also generous enough to share the nuts and bolts of his business model and its financials. His first year in business, he earned $5,000, but by the end of his second, he was at $65,000, all from selling courses based on his experience.

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Episode Transcript

Graham:

It's helpful to remember that everyone you admire in your field or in any field is just another human being like you. They're scared, they're fearful, they're insecure. I can tell you the more successful you become, it doesn't get any better. You don't get less scared. You have just new fears, new insecurities. The problem is that it becomes harder because now you have fewer people to talk about them with, because you'll be judged if you share your successful person fears. Nobody understands you, so the pool of people that you can relate to, diminishes.

Chris:

Graham, I'm excited to talk to you today. Your message to me was really compelling. I'm like, "Okay, this guy gets it." I think we're doing very similar things wanting to support our communities, so let's just start there. Before we get going, can you introduce yourself and then tell us a little story about who you are and what you do?

Graham:

Yeah. No, I'm so pumped to hang out and talk. What you're doing is amazing, Chris. Yeah, I own two online businesses. I started in the music space with a brand called, The Recording Revolution. I started that in '09. And the goal there was... I didn't actually know what I was doing in '09, but the goal there was to help musicians make better sounding recordings, tell them what gear to buy, how to use gear without having gone to audio school, just tips and tricks. And that turned into an online business. I didn't know that was a thing. And so that became super successful, it became the coolest thing I'd ever done. I really enjoyed it and fell in love with it.
And then I fell in love with helping people start their own business around their own knowledge, their own skillset, their own hobbies, just like I had. And that turned into this personal brand, grahamcochrane.com, I launched in 2018. And that's just been an amazing journey. That was like a passion project for me and now it's become what I'm doing full time. It's just this brand. I've brought on other people to do the content on my original channel, which was bittersweet. There's a lot we could unpack there about identity and who I thought I was and that kind of stuff.
But yeah, now I help people launch, start online businesses, and grow their businesses, and just wrote a book called, How to Get Paid for What You Know. And that was an awesome project as well.

Chris:

Okay. I'm trying to retrace your steps here and it's not so easy to see, as oftentimes people say it's easy when you look back, but looking forward, because I see that you get your bachelor's of arts degree in corporate communications and your media bachelor's of arts in corporate communications and media. And then you go and work with Rosetta Stone as an audio engineer. Just help me figure out who you are as a kid, why did you pick this as a field of study? And then maybe we can retrace the steps together.

Graham:

The LinkedIn resume, it shows for me the failure of a dream is what it feels like, because the dream was I was a performer as a kid, I was in choir, I was in bands, I was a singer songwriter, I was musical theater kid. And so I picked one of those loves and I picked music and I wanted to be a rockstar. And so in college my parents had a deal where I had to go to college. My grandfather, God bless him, and his vision for me and my brother, he saved a lot of money for me to go to school. My parents saved some money and they were like, "You're going to school. We don't care what you do after that," in not so many words. And so I was like, "All right, I'll go get a degree."
I actually did two degrees. One was technically the media and communication. The other was audio engineering and producing music. And so I was like, "At least I want to play with music, play in studios, play with technology." But what I'm really doing is writing records and shopping an album around and trying to get signed by the time I graduate college, and I had people that really mentored me, who believed in me and I really believed in myself, so I really thought I had a shot. And then when I got to the end of my senior year and realized that not enough record labels were biting, where there was some serious opportunity, I was engaged to my then fiance, now wife, and I was like, "I got to find a way to make money."
And so I took random jobs until I could finally find a job doing audio, which that was great. Rosetta Stone's a cool company, but it was pretty boring. I mean, you're recording somebody speaking Spanish or Greek, "El gato." "Can we do that one again, please?" Like, "El gato." So I did that for a few years and that was what I thought the rest of my life was going to be, was like, "I guess I'm one of those creatives that now is a square peg in a round hole and have to do this for the rest of my life."

Chris:

Yeah. I see on your LinkedIn page there that you got out of school in 2005. At this point, if memory serves me, man, the way that we consume music has already changed or is about to change radically. And so anybody who's thinking of like, "Yeah, I'm going to be a rockstar. I'm going to sell a gazillion CDs," or whatever else you're selling, LPs, "And people are going to come to my concert." It's like the writing is on the wall already, I think. Take me back to 2005 as you're going through this thinking, "I'm a musical theater kid. I want to be a rockstar. I want to write songs and I want to perform." Is impacting that thought at all, or you're like, "I'm going to be the exception to the rule"?

Graham:

Yeah. So I'm not a visionary or at least I wasn't back then, so I was probably living... I was a product of the 1990s, really, is what I remember. And so I was still like, "Yeah, I know things are changing. It's just like a digital version of that." But there were still people making videos on MTV, there were still people signing big record deals at the time. And so I was still like, "It's the late 1990s kind of still. We're only six, seven years removed from that."
So I was trying to go the traditional model and it's funny because I didn't see what was changing and I didn't want to see it. I just wanted to be an artist and I wanted to perform, and I wanted people to know my name, and I wanted to make an impact. I remember thinking that. So if I were smarter back then, I probably could have seen like, "There's so many opportunities now for musicians. That's so cool." You could make a living as a musician now in ways that you could never back then, but I didn't see the writing on the wall. I was just very traditionalist in that sense.

Chris:

Okay. Good to know. All right. I have to follow up on that. When you say there's so many different cool ways for musicians to make a living today, I'm not in your space, so I'm thinking the opposite, because I have friends who score music for films, for TV shows, and for commercials. It's not so good for them these days. You must be talking about something else. Can you shed the light on what you're talking about?

Graham:

Well, that's interesting, because my friends, that are in the same space, are doing great right now for scoring music. I would say maybe the bigger category is video games. I think there's more money in video game music than there is in maybe film music. I don't know. That's an interesting industry, especially looking at Microsoft buying... What did they buy? Acclaim, or Midway, or they bought something huge.

Chris:

Activision, I think.

Graham:

Activision. Yeah. For like 60-some-odd billion dollars. There's so much money in video games. I have friends making music for that space and they're in business. But even if you're just a normal musician, there's so many tools now, with YouTube and any of these platforms, TikTok, to get in front of an audience, to build an audience. And then now there's so many tools like Patreon or even the YouTube subscribe function, or just even building your own fan club on a platform like Kajabi, where you can monetize access to private live streams, hangouts, swag, whatever. It's basically a fan club, a glorified fan club online that you can control. And Kevin Kelly's whole 1,000 true fan concept really comes into play. I've got friends that are doing $100,000 to $250,000 a year that are just musicians. And it's just based off of $8 a month subscriptions or $10 a month supporting on Patreon just from building a little fan base online, so it's pretty exciting.

Chris:

How big is their social following, just ballpark, just to give this some context?

Graham:

Yeah, so I don't like to talk about social following, because I don't think that they're related. They can be, but I feel like it's a big vanity metric. So for example, I can just compare my two businesses. The Recording Revolution on YouTube has over 600,000 subscribers. My personal brand, as of right now, has like only 30,000 subscribers, but I'm able to make more money in my personal brand with 5% of the audience size than I was with the Recording Revolution, which is insane. So there's just so many more variables than social size or subscriber base, if you get creative in terms of what value you add and how engaged your audience is, you can make a lot or a little.

Chris:

Okay. As we talk, the threads start to splinter apart and there's many things for me. Just like, I'm interested in following up with you on, because there's a small percentage of people who listen to our podcast and watch our channel, who would self-identify as a musician, as an artist. And they're like, "Chris, helped me out. Do you have any specific plans for us?" I can apply the concepts they say and figure it out for my business, but since I have you here, help me understand all this, because I do have, I'm not saying lots of friends, but a good amount of friends that run the entire spectrum of barely scraping two nickels together, and people who are scoring for TV shows and things like that on a regular basis. And it seems like there's everything in between.
So let's talk about some, just big ideas. The bullet points that you talked about in that there are some non-traditional ways for you as an artist to make a living these days. You mentioned one is creating the ultimate fan club, lots of tools and resources to do that. Okay. I checked that off. The first thing that I think about is, and this is why I asked you that question, I'm glad you're going to address it head on, is I don't have a following, I don't want to do that kind of stuff. How do I build this fan club? Because it's not happening for me.

Graham:

Yeah. So you've got to get out of your head whatever image comes to your mind when you talk about following, because there's a lot of issues there. So the average person that I talk to, thinks that when you do anything online, they're thinking, "Oh, you have a big TikTok following, or Instagram, or something dumb." You just do something dumb or whatever it is that the kids are doing to amass a following. And so you're saying, "You can make money online, but you need this massive following. And I don't want to do dances, and I don't want to do Reels, and I don't want to do this kind of stuff." And I think that that's where we need to start the conversation, which is, that is only one way, when we talk about following and audience building, that is a way.
I do think you need an audience. I don't think it's possible to make a living without an audience. It's very, very hard. I think the audience is the asset, not your product, not what you sell. I think if you have an audience, you can do anything. If you don't have an audience, it's really hard to have a business, because we're serving people here at the end of the day. So I do think you need an audience, but I don't think you have to do something you don't feel comfortable doing. I really try to steer people, including musicians, which is kind of my history, I help a lot of artists, even though I'm not only helping artists, but they're the ones that fight against this the most, because they want to be an artist and only be an artist and, "I don't want to have to do the business side of things."
And I totally get that, but you do need to commit to building a community or building an audience around what you do. And the way that could look could be just posting some YouTube videos. You could commit to posting one or two videos a week on a channel where you're playing original music, sure, but you're strategically playing covers of really popular artists or popular songs, because guess what? That's what people are typing into YouTube. And all it takes is one or two of those covers to pop for people to notice you. And they're like, "Oh, I like Chris's rendition of whatever song that is. That was really cool. I didn't know who this kid was. He's really talented. Let me check out his other videos."
And that becomes a gateway for people who are not looking for you to find you, to then realize how talented you are. And now they're in your ecosystem and that's building a following, that's building an audience, but it's much more geared around what you love to do. And I would argue YouTube content, or even a podcast like this, but YouTube especially, it's so much more evergreen because it's not like a TikTok video that disappears unless it goes viral. It's permanently there and it's very searchable and it'll show up on a Google search, it'll show up on a YouTube search. And that's making good use of your time, because it'll stick around forever.

Chris:

Okay. I love that. So when you talk about building an audience and having a community, I think those two words are interchangeable, the way that we're talking about them. I think people can get excited about that. And I don't know too many people that are like, "Wah, a community. I hate that." Whereas like, "Oh I got to get on freaking TikTok and shake my butt? No thank you."
Okay. So you need to do something that's going to bring people to you. You gave some pretty tactical advice on, you do original music, but do some interesting covers and people are looking for that. You talked about how you and I are very bullish on YouTube, like it is evergreen content, search engine is the most powerful search engine on the planet. And if you have any talent, we'll preface by saying that, because I'm not saying if you're terrible, you're not going to want to hear my version of any song, because it'll be horrible, but if you have talent, wherever you are, if you stick to it, eventually your audience will find you, right?

Graham:

100%.

Chris:

Okay.

Graham:

100%. Yeah. And a good example of that, just a silly example. My daughter, I have two daughters. My oldest is a 12 year old. She's into a video game called Roblox, and she's... One of the games within that game, because it's like multiple games in there, she builds and designs these houses. And so she wanted to start a YouTube channel and I was like, "You can start one if it's just like screen sharing what you're doing in the game. I don't want you putting your face on there right now." And there's a lot of things in that conversation, but she really wanted to share these builds she was doing. I was like, "I have no problem with that."
So she made her first screen capture of touring this house she built. I showed her how to strategically title the video, which is you don't have to be that creative, just Roblox, whatever the name of the game is, build, just the main keywords. One video, channel is fresh that day, within three hours, she was on the first page of search results for the video game keywords. She didn't stick forever, but she showed up within three hours and she's a brand new channel, and this is even more the future because the algorithm for YouTube has been geared towards democratizing content for newer channels, smaller channels, because they want you to get that quick win of, "Oh wow, this is working." So you'll stay on the platform and keep making content that they can run ads on, but this is more possible than ever. And I just use her as an example, because nobody knows who she is, but she was showing up in search results in day one, which is so powerful.

Chris:

What an awesome story. And you're absolutely right. I think the shift happened a few years ago when, instead of giving a few creators all the search love, they're like anybody. You start today, you start tomorrow, it doesn't matter if you have good content, if you title it correctly, because that's a big part of it, if it's good, we'll show it to people and then it becomes much more democratized as you say. It also becomes much more difficult and much more... It requires more effort now. If you've been creating content, you can't just sit on the fact that you have subscribers, so probably to your point, maybe your subscriber count doesn't matter as much as you think it did.
Okay. What are other things that people can do if they're an artist, these new ways of making a living?

Graham:

Yeah. So I mean, audience building is something that will never stop, so you really need to find your lane. And I really I'm with you. I'm bullish on YouTube. Find a way to just build that audience, but then beyond that, you have to create a way to own the audience, because again, YouTube is a platform that could change its algorithm again, or it could disappear entirely. I mean, I don't know. You remember MySpace. Probably everyone that had a band was on MySpace at one point and now no one knows what MySpace is. And that's the point of the story, is you don't want to build a following on a platform and just leave it there. You want to own the audience.
And so that to me, looks like building an email list. Every business should be collecting emails. Email marketing is the number one driver of sales online, still over paid social, organic social. When people get an email for a product, they typically buy. They're usually interacting with that. And so, it also eliminates the middle man of, "Oh, I can't reach my Facebook followers." That happened to me when Facebook moved years ago to like, "You have to boost your posts now and pay for..." I had 100,000 subscribers on Facebook and then from one day to the next, only 10,000 were seeing my posts. And so my traffic dropped down, my sales went down. I was like, "Well, good thing I have all these email addresses, because I can email them still and get ahold of them."
So I think building the audience, moving to an email list so that you can directly connect with your fans and still send them awesome free content or updates, or whatever you're doing is so important. And then from there you have to have something to sell them. It's either sell them a product, and that could be your product, it could be an affiliate product, it could be access to you. Maybe a model like Patreon or some kind of fan club model makes more sense, because they're paying for access/they're supporting you. It is crowdfunding and people really like to get behind content creators and brands they love by supporting them. And so you can change the language where maybe they're not getting as much, or buying a product, but there's so many ways to then monetize that loyal tribe, especially if it's geared around what you love to do anyway.
So those are the three things. It's audience building, getting them on an email list, and then giving them opportunities to pay you, which sounds kind of silly, but that's basically all we're doing in business.

Chris:

I think that's really important because I look at it like this concept, and I don't think I'm alone in the universe, it's like we vote with our dollars. Like if I want to see more of what you're going to do and make sure you don't go away, I have to pay you in some ways, because otherwise I get more of what I don't like. And I'm a big anti-piracy person myself. Now. I'm no angel here, because back in the day I would like, "Hey, you got some fonts? Can I have them?" And I would just take them. And I didn't start to think about like, "My God, if all of us just took things and didn't pay for anything, then nothing would ever get done. We have to support creators." And now we have a direct relationship with creators, with musicians, with artists, with designers, that you don't have to go through some middle person broker to have this kind of access and it's much more intimate.
So you talked about the importance of the audience and Kevin Kelly's you just need 1,000 true fans to support you. And you got to give them some way to support you financially with Paton, through affiliate marketing, which is basically you sell someone else's product and you make a small percentage on that and creating a product yourself. And the product could be a course or like a coaching program, something that is recurring monthly. I'd like to talk about that a little bit. I want to get your thoughts because it sounds like you've been very successful building multiple streams of income, I think two seven-figure businesses, while working very minimal hours. And it sounds like a dream. I'm here to tell you that if you don't do the work, it is a dream. But if you do do the work, it's actually a very real dream you can attain. So I'm going to just turn this over to you to have you speak on that please.

Graham:

Oh, I love that last line. Yeah. So I find myself in a weird space where I'm talking in the same lane as people that make my skin crawl, they're standing in front of a Ferrari or they're on a private jet and they're just talking about, if you buy their thing or come to their webinar, you can be a millionaire or whatever and you don't have to do any work. So I understand that I'm lumped into that category, but I kind of like the challenge because I want to rebrand this lane as a real possibility for people who truly care about serving people and providing value, and doing work that they really believe in. So the great thing about... I come from a freelance background. My first business was freelance recording and producing music for bands. And I thought I was living the dream at the time. Like, "Wow, I get paid to make a record for music I enjoy? That's really cool. And I get to play with the gear and that kind of stuff."
I thought that the dream, but when you're a freelancer, there's only like two real dials you have to make more money, either charge more for your service or get more clients, or both. And at some point, those have their limits. Now, I have friends who have then added a third dial, which is hire other people underneath them to then service all their clients and they get a small cut of that, but now you're managing people and if that's not something you're good at or want to do, and I don't want either of those, then you're out of options to scale your income or dial back your time.
And so I stumbled into digital products by accident. I started a blog in 2009, started a YouTube channel in January of 2010 for the express purpose of hoping people would find me, see that I'm doing incredible work and want to hire me. So it was like a means for just lead generation for my service-based business. I had no idea that people would be interested to pay me to learn more about what I was teaching them how to do. I thought, "Well, you're watching my YouTube videos. Why would you want to pay me for more?" But I realized, "Oh, I'm missing the point." People want to go deeper. They want curated information and not just a million random YouTube videos when they're serious and ready.
And when I launched my first course, which I didn't know it was called a course, I just filmed four hours of content to explain this one and piece of software, and people paid me for it, that was like a light bulb moment of, "Oh my gosh. If I just had more of these things, or charged higher prices, or had more people buying them, or any combination of the three, I could make way more money and I've already done the work. The work is done. I built it, the sales process is there, it's automated online, people are finding me through the YouTube channel."
So I started to see like, "Maybe there's more opportunity here." And that's what I stumbled into. That's what I teach now full time. And that's what this book is about is like, man, the way I can work six hours a week and do over a million dollars a year is because I've got content, driving people to an email list of mine that's digitally offering them more value, and a lot of that's paid on the back end and they can buy it. And then that has nothing to do with whether I'm working or not. And then my work just becomes focused on continuing to create content, which is the most important thing. And I get to do that every week and that's fun. And then servicing a few of my coaching programs that require live access to me, but I've even made those pretty minimal to fit the life that I want. And it can scale because you can have unlimited people buy from you once they find you online.
So it's a beautiful model that I'm trying to open people's minds to, and to your point, it takes some work to set it up. It's not a quick way to make money, but if you're thinking like, "What could I be doing in the next 5 to 10 years?" Where this could be done in three years. You could be really doing well in three years, but long game, this is the model that gives you freedom if you like helping people and sharing content and teaching. It's incredible.

Chris:

Wonderful. I'm not sure, because not everybody's comfortable talking about this kind of stuff, but are you okay with peeling back the curtain, just kind of give us a peek into your numbers or is this something that...?

Graham:

Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Chris:

Great. So when did you author the course? What year was that?

Graham:

My first course was 2010.

Chris:

Okay. What were sales like for you in the first year?

Graham:

Oh, I think I made like $5,000.

Chris:

Perfect. I love that. It's how it is.

Graham:

It was [crosstalk 00:23:33]. Working full time and making five grand.

Chris:

Right. It's like it pays for coffee.

Graham:

Yeah.

Chris:

I think that's your coffee budget for the year, right?

Graham:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:

Okay. What year does it start to become like a real number for you and what's that number?

Graham:

Yeah, the end of 2011. So the end of my second full year of business. By the end of that year, I had made like $60,000, $65,000 that year.

Chris:

Nice.

Graham:

That was like my dream number.

Chris:

That's a good number by the way. Congratulations.

Graham:

Hey, thank you. My wife and I both had full-time jobs before that, making $30,000 each. And we just had a baby. I was like, "If she could stay home and I could replace both of our salaries from home, this is the dream that I thought I needed."

Chris:

It's a good thing.

Graham:

Yeah.

Chris:

Okay. And is this the point where you're like, "If I worked at this, maybe it can turn into something much bigger than this. You never know, right?"

Graham:

Well, I got that vision earlier on. And so that was me working at it actually. In my second year I started to really launch a bunch of different products and got more creative and a little more bold.

Chris:

I see.

Graham:

And that was the beginning of things really starting to work. And during that time, just so people know, like during those first two years, we were on food stamps for 18 months of those first two years. So it was like a very low embarrassing point where I'm working hard, meaning dedicated. I only worked 32 hours a week was the max I've ever worked in the business, because I always took Fridays off, but there wasn't much fruit from all that work. Until the end of year two, I really started to see the fruit of my labor.

Chris:

This is very good. Okay. I'm glad you clarified. So year one you have one product. It's teach how to use the, I think, audio software or something like that.

Graham:

Yeah.

Chris:

Okay. Year two you're like, "Hey, let's double up our efforts here." How many products or courses are you offering at this point?

Graham:

By the end of year two, I had five for sale.

Chris:

Holy cow.

Graham:

Yeah.

Chris:

That is a lot.

Graham:

Yeah. And three of them weren't that great. Honestly, it was product four and five. Those were the ones that were more dialed in, but also more on a subject that people really wanted to pay for and I was too scared to teach, because I didn't feel like I was expert enough to teach it. But those were the ones that popped.

Chris:

Of those two, which was the more popular course? What is that called?

Graham:

Yeah, it's called Rethink Mixing.

Chris:

Okay. Rethink Mixing. And what was the price point at that time? Do you remember?

Graham:

Yeah. $99.

Chris:

Okay. Oh, I love the information that you're sharing here. It seems like very relatable, attainable. If you think about it, everybody listening, it doesn't have to be this $10,000 product, you can just start small. I love how you said that you didn't think you were an expert enough to be teaching this, but you knew that's kind of what people wanted. And so you stuck it out, you made that thing. Okay. Wonderful. Anything else you discovered in year two before we go to year three?

Graham:

No, that was the big discovery, that this is full time. This is the thing.

Chris:

Okay. And you had said before, you were doing some of this while working a full-time job and your wife. So have you already now left your job? This is now your full-time thing?

Graham:

Well, I had lost my job, so I was doing this and freelancing. So I was trying to...

Chris:

I see.

Graham:

My goal was to get half my income from freelancing and half from these digital products. But I think at the end of year two was when I realized, "I made more on my product side than my freelancing side. Maybe this is the future."

Chris:

And that is a dream. I want to just tell everybody, I mean, look, if it's not obvious, I'm just going to say, because sometimes people miss the point of this. When you're in the service space, you only make money when you're working. And so when you go to sleep, you stop making money. And sometimes, maybe it's different for music, but in design and very kind of bespoke creative services, you can't take an asset that you made for one client and reuse it for something else. Very rarely can you do that. So you're starting over every single time.
When you make a product, however hard or difficult it is, once a product is done, you could be asleep, you could be at dinner, you could play with your kids, and if it sells, you're making money. So this is really what we refer to as a passive income. You still have to work for it, but it's a whole different business model and it's completely scalable, because there's only one of you and so many hours you can give up in your day, but when you make a product like this, and there's other ways to do this, you can sell one to a million and it won't affect the experience that each person has as long as you do the onboarding process correctly.

Graham:

Exactly.

Chris:

Okay.

Graham:

Yeah.

Chris:

Beautiful job. Okay. You made five products and the fourth and fifth product are the ones that start to connect and you went out of your comfort zone, you did something you weren't ready for. And at a very, just friendly price point, $99. Take us now to year three, what's happening in year three, numbers-wise and anything that you've learned from that?

Graham:

So yeah, this year three was the interesting year. And I find that with my students. I don't know what it is, but year three seems to be a magical year for the majority of them. If by the end of year two I was making around $65,000 a year, if you annualized it out over the 12 months, within the first quarter of year three, I was doing $10,000 a month. So like pacing to double. And I ended up doubling in that third year. I hadn't launched anything new, nothing really changed, but that was my audience. The traction now on YouTube and my blog, a couple of articles, a couple of videos. That was starting to gain momentum, which again is a passive element. I'm still posting the same amount each week, but I'm starting to get some traction on the content side, so more people joining my list, more people going through my email funnel, which is just a prewritten series of emails that offered your products automatically. And that doubled things almost overnight with no more work. It was crazy.

Chris:

What do you attribute, in terms of audience building, what was most effective for you to bring new ears and eyes to you, your brand, and your product?

Graham:

Yeah, I think there's three ways to think about content. There's two types of content. One way to put it is planned content and demand content, so your planned content is like, you know what you can teach, you know what your research shows that people need. And so you can plan out, "Hey, in the next six months I'm going to cover these topics. I'm going to teach these things." And these are questions that I get, I know I'm going to answer. And then there's demand content, which is, if you are paying attention to your audience, which you should always do, they're going to tell you what they want more of. They're going to tell you when you found something that they really like, when there's a video that you thought was not a big deal, but then all of a sudden they're, "Whoa, whoa, tell me more about this, or now I have a million questions."
They can give you ideas for new content. So you're always playing between what you want to do and what they're asking for. And then there's this third category of just hijacking someone else's audience by creating content with them or for them. So this can be guest blog posting. This can be the doing a collaboration video. This can be what we're doing right now, interviewing somebody or being interviewed on someone else's podcast. So I'm new to your audience, and then when I share this with my audience, you'll be new to my audience. This kind of collaboration, it becomes a multiplicative effect where now it's not new content necessarily, it's just new, fresh eyeballs that might be like, "Wow, I'm really interested in this guy." So finding people who are either in your niche or complimentary niches, where they're going to really like what you're doing too, and you're being brought in and that's a great way to grow.

Chris:

Wonderful. That was super clear. Okay. Let's fast forward to today. We're like 10 years after this moment, right? So 2012, we're 2022. What is your lovingly, I'm just going to say this, your business empire look like right now? Tell me the different things you've got going on.

Graham:

Yeah. So I have two brands. I still have the first one, that music one, the Recording Revolution, but like I said, I no longer do the content anymore. I stepped out from that about a year ago, the beginning of '21. So there's still a channel, there's still courses being sold, but we are in transition of trying to bring on other faces, to create the content and move it away from being a Graham-centric brand to just the subject matter. And we'll see how that goes and we're in year two of that. That's existing and doing its thing. And then I have this personal brand where I teach people how to earn more in their online business, or start an online business, and work less. And that's really important to me because there's lots of ways to make money, but I'm really more interested in making a life, and you need money for life, but you also want to have time to do other things and be with the people you love. And you also need to have space to be healthy and for your mind, body, soul, all that stuff.
So I try to help people with that, and so that includes a podcast, YouTube channel, I have courses, I have a community, a paid community where I coach people who've already launched, that want to scale, a mastermind group for people who are already doing six figures who want to scale to seven figures. And then this book is the next endeavor of that, which is trying to get people that won't pay attention to me as a YouTuber, maybe pay attention to me as a published author. There's something about that that people, just for some reason, they look at you differently and that's something I've always wanted to do was write a book. And so that's the new thing.

Chris:

Great. You mentioned the book a couple times. The book is Called How to Get Paid for What You Know. And I think it's going to be out like any day now, right?

Graham:

Yeah, March 22nd.

Chris:

Okay. Where can we find this book? Is it like Amazon or a specific [crosstalk 00:32:52].

Graham:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, anywhere. Anywhere books are sold. Yep.

Greg Gunn:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.

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Greg Gunn:

Welcome back to our conversation.

Chris:

I've been talking to Graham and he's been sharing with us how he went from living on food stamps and building a passive income business, and accidentally discovering that he can be a course creator and taking themself out of that and being able to work a very balanced lifestyle, which is what everyone's looking for, where you can make enough money to support you and your family and the people that you care about, while not giving your entire life away to work, because what's the point of making money if you can't spend it with the people that you love?
Okay. Business-wise, revenue-wise, where are we at in 2022 with these two different endeavors that you have?

Graham:

Yeah, so revenue, like last year between the two was $1.7 million, maybe somewhere around there.

Chris:

Wow. Congratulations again. Amazing.

Graham:

Oh, thank you. Yeah. It's crazy to say. It is crazy.

Chris:

Yeah. And you are now more focused on your personal brand and you're going to shift the Recording Revolution to some other thing. You still own that, you still run it or is it something that you're building it to kind of spin it off and sell it so someone else could manage that?

Graham:

Yeah, so a great question. I still own it and I have a business partner in that business who now has taken on more responsibility and is hiring the content creators and keeping the brand alive, so I don't do anything in that business day to day, just own it. And we're in like wait-and-see mode. It's like an experiment. Can it exist without me? And it did last year, revenue dropped. We put planned for that, but we'll know more like, "Can it exist without me, or can we rebuild it so it could exist without me?" Mostly just to keep serving people, the audience. I needed to move on, personally. My heart wasn't in it anymore, which was a really hard thing for me to even admit to myself for a while, but the audience was still hungry for it. And so I didn't want to shut it down, so I'm trying to find a way to let it live and continue to serve people without me needing to be in it.

Chris:

All right. Okay. I want to take you back because you said something that I think people would be upset at me if I didn't follow up on, which is you had some kind of low point where money was a scarce resource for you. And I think this is an important thing for people to understand and unpack the mindset that you need to be in that place where you're sustaining yourself on food stamps, I think you mentioned maybe two years. When you're kind of in that state, how do you have the courage to try and start a crazy business that maybe doesn't make sense? Because I think a lot of people are going to relate to that part of the story, maybe they're down-and-out on their luck. They've tried and failed before, or they're living in a country where these kinds of ideas are too radical for them. Can you speak to this audience please?

Graham:

Yeah. 100%. I don't want anyone to ever think that I had a great vision for my business and it was just a hard patch, but I knew we were going to get through it, because certainly that's some people's story. And I wish that was my story. I lived day to day in doubt, fear, shame, and embarrassment. I had a baby that was just born and a wife that was trying to take care of that beautiful baby, and I had a mortgage, and we just bought a house. And then I lost my job. And then I find myself in my little spare bedroom, right off the living room, I can hear my daughter crying, I can hear my wife struggling, the new mom. And I'm in there sitting at a computer asking God like, "What do I do? What am I doing? Like literally, what am I doing?" And even if I knew what I was trying to do, I don't know to do it. I don't know how to do it. I don't even know what's possible.
And so I just want people to know that's how I felt. I felt lost, but I felt a pressure to figure something out and to try something. And it was hardest in a lot of ways when I would go see family around the holidays or someone would come to visit. We had just moved to Florida and so we didn't have family in town, but if people come to visit, or we go back to Virginia, or somewhere for the holidays, and they would ask, "Have you found a job yet?" And to have to tell them, "I haven't found a job and then I'm not actually looking for a job, but I'm blogging about audio recording." And then to see their faces, like you can see them trying to figure that out. Like, "Okay, I want to be nice. I love you. I do respect you and trust you, but how are you going to take care of my daughter? Because I don't understand how that makes money."
And I would have to tell them, "I don't know how it makes money yet either." It was really hard. And so I just want people to hear the reality of how I felt in it, because I didn't have a resource. I didn't even have a podcast like this to hear about what was possible or even maybe some things to think about, so I felt very lost. I think the two things I knew I had going for me, one was my wife, really supported me. She's an entrepreneurial in the sense that she's always had a side hustle and she can always come up with ways to make money. And so she's very much the kind of person like, "Well, we can figure something out. I don't know how it's going to work either, but we can figure something out."
And so she was very supportive of me giving it a shot and I really appreciated that, because I know she was scared. And then two, I credit my faith. I'm a Christian, and I pray, and I trust that God has a plan for my life. This was not the plan I had. I would've not have scripted it this way. And just prayer. And some days I really sucked at that, but I would look for just glimpses of, "Maybe this is working." I didn't have to see it all unfold, but if I could see like, "Maybe there's something here," that got me to do the next thing and the next thing.
So whether that was more people finding the YouTube channel, is seeming to really feel like, "I'm unique in this space." More people buying my little $45 course, which was the price of my first course, more people reaching out and wanting to collaborate with me. Even though I couldn't see all the dollar signs, I thought, "I think there's something here." And you know that, Chris. When you're creating something that people really like, even if you can't sell it yet, there's something there. And I just was determined to figure out a way to monetize it eventually.

Chris:

So you had a lot of things working for you. I mean, you have a loving, supportive wife who encourages your risk taking, your entrepreneurship. I think you leaned in on your faith, knowing that there's a plan and we have to discover that plan along the way, you have the right background, the right mix. And so are you, quite just literally, poking around until you find the business? I mean, because how does this happen? Because there's a big gap there. I believe that it's going to happen, I have a loving, supportive family, and it actually happening are two different things. So what was the breakthrough for you?

Graham:

Yes, exactly. And I'm glad you want to take it there. So when I found, and if anyone starts to create content online, especially if it's YouTube content and it's pretty clear who you're building it for and the audience is pretty defined, people are going to find it, even if it's 50 people. People say, "Oh, I got 50 views on my video." Imagine 50 people in your living room, listening to everything you say. That's awesome. There's something there.
When you start to see people are excited about what you're doing, and when I did, I started to think about, "Okay, well, how do you make money off of this?" And the only way I could think of was advertising. So that's a model that's been around from the dawn of time, so I thought, "If I can look at Google Analytics and see how many people are hitting my website or watching my YouTube videos, even if it's small, I'm sure I could whip up a little PDF and find some manufacturers of audio equipment who would love to be in front of my audience and probably go for the small companies that have small budgets and will take any kind of customers and pitch to them as if I know what I'm doing. Would you like to have a banner ad on my website or be the sponsor of my website or whatever?"
And I sold the few like $500 spots or $600 spots for like six months or whatever it would be, to some companies that were just looking for some guerilla marketing like, "Sure, yeah. We're trying to show up on all kinds of blogs and we'll see if something picks up." And that was my first little hustle of like, "Yeah, maybe there's something here." And when you get your first dollar where some company's like, "Yeah, I'll advertise on you," that gives you a little bit of confidence that, "Hey, I could do more of this. Maybe I could raise my rates. Maybe if I get more eyeballs on my side, I can come back with better stats." And so you start to do the numbers. And to be honest, our living expenses were pretty low in general. And then they had to become lower when we didn't have much money.
And so we were like, "Okay, what do we need to make? $3,000 a month to exist? We won't be living a great life, but we could exist." And so then your goals are really low. I'm like, "What if I could do $1,500 a month in ad sponsorships and then $1,500 a month of client work?" That's what I thought life was going to be, struggle to get just enough between the two. And it started with advertising and that is a viable model. I just found that once courses started to sell, I was genuinely surprised. I thought, "Oh, this is a more scalable," to use your word, "A more scalable model."

Chris:

You are a hustler. I don't know if that's a bad term for you, but...

Graham:

I don't like that term, but I like the heart behind it. I trust your heart behind it.

Chris:

Yeah. It's like, "This doesn't work, I'll try that." That doesn't work and you're not afraid to pick up the phone, shoot out an email to someone, you figure out a way. There's two meanings to hustler. A hustler is a con person who hustles people out of their money. I'm not talking about that. I'm like, "That person's got hustled. There's a pep in their step and they're go-getter. They've got moxie." I don't think of a lot of creative people who are like, "No, no, things aren't working. I'll just stay on Fiverr." And they never break out of that pattern of thinking, as opposed to where you are at like, "Man, there's not a lot happening right now, but there's 50 people watching this, where else might this go?"
Now, this doesn't seem to fit inside the narrative of who you are as a person who's a performer, as a person who went to school for communication and media. Where does this business, marketing mindset, this salesperson mindset come from? Does it come from insight or is there somebody in your life that helps you through this?

Graham:

No, that's a great question. So I took a sales job out of college. I sold radio advertising for a clear channel, local clear channel, rock and country station. And I was awful at it because I'm an introvert, I'm afraid of talking to people. I don't want to cold call, I don't want to walk into a tractor supply store and try to convince you to run ads on our station. But two things are different. I use that as a bit of a joke, but A, I didn't believe in the product I was selling, because I didn't believe like, who buys off of radio ads? I guess some people do. And B, I was just coming off of a death of a dream because that was the season of my life where I realized I had to get a real job and the music thing isn't going to work out, maybe like a thought. So I was in a bad space and pretty bitter.
I think what you're seeing, and maybe I haven't thought about it this way, Chris. I think what you're seeing is I'm not a salesperson. I don't even think of myself as that creative, but I'm a performer. As an introvert, I'm weird around small groups of people if everyone's looking at me, but if you put me in front of 5,000 people on a stage, I feel like I'm all alone. And it's beautiful, and I can just be me, and I'm confident, and I feel like people should pay attention, because there's something great's going to happen. I don't think I've articulated in that way, because I think I've too many mental scripts of like, "Be humble, don't brag, don't be egotistical."
So I never verbalize those things, but I think that's what's coming out. And I really felt, when I started my YouTube channel and my blog, I could tell these people loved it. I could tell that it was helping them. And I could tell that I was being the resource that I never had. I had to go to audio school to learn this and then deal with a bunch of jerks online and forums telling you that, "Well, you need thousands of dollars to have a professional recording." And here I was being the guy that was relieving people and showing, "No, you could do this for 300 bucks, 500 bucks. And you can do it at home." And so I saw their eyes light up and I got confident in my ability to bring transformation in people's lives, even if that transformation was only encouragement. That's one of my life goals is to be an encourager and an empowerer of people.
And so I felt that, and that gave me a little bit of power, maybe. Maybe a bit of confidence, maybe that's the moxie you see? And so I felt like, "Why wouldn't everybody want to watch all of my videos? Why wouldn't they want to take my course? It's really going to help them. I don't know how to get them to do it, but I believed in it enough to keep trying as long as I could." And I don't know how many more years I could have tried before my wife said like, "Hey, go get a real job." But there was enough proof that this could work if we just gave it a little bit more time, and a little bit more time, and it did eventually. Slowly, but it did it.

Chris:

I think you touched on a couple different things that I want to highlight. One is that I think you have to have an internal belief that what you're doing is fundamentally good. It comes from that. So I think if you're like, "I have a really engaged audience. I believe they want to know more about the things that I'm using and talking about." That gives you a lot more confidence to reach out to manufacturers, versus the person who's like, "I don't know about this." That deal wouldn't occur to them. And then when they have those dialogue or conversations with people, they're going to self-sabotage.
There's another thing that you brought up, which I want to just kind of draw attention to, which is this, is that a lot of us are waiting for the evidence to tell us that we're good enough, so that then we can believe that we're good enough. So we somehow miraculously expect audiences show up without us making content. Then the other way is, "I believe that what I have to share is good, and it's coming from a good place, and I'm well intentioned, and I'm going to make this thing and then gather the evidence to support this belief." I find that really successful people have this strong belief and they're waiting for the evidence to catch up. You might think you're the world's best musician, or mixer, or audio engineer. And then you're just like, "Give me enough opportunities and I will eventually prove to you that I am that person."
You seem very much like the second of those two descriptions, the latter of the two. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Graham:

Yeah. I love that framework. Yes, it's an inherent belief that maybe the evidence isn't there, a good word, but I could easily picture thousands of people buying this course and I can picture testimonials or I can picture cool success stories. In the audio niche, there's a... I don't even if he's still doing it, there was a great web TV show called, Pensado's Place. Dave Pensado is a Grammy Award-winning mixer and engineer. And what he would do was interview other engineers. It was a really cool thing because nobody cares about the music producers, they care about the artists, but he was highlighting all of our heroes in the audio engineering space on his show. And it was all these amazing guys and gals.
And I remember thinking, "I want to be on that show. I'm not a big name producer, but I'm big in the music space in a roundabout smaller way, whereas I have a lot of influence on the next generation of audio engineers. And it's weird, but more people are learning from me than are learning at audio school, because they just found my YouTube channel and it's the biggest one." And so I had, not an arrogance, but I was like, "I think..." And I knew Dave Pensado, we'd connected a bit, he's saw what I was doing, I had interviewed him on my show a little bit, he was like doing me a favor. But I had a feeling like, "One day, I bet I could get on that show. I don't know how. And he probably would say no, but I think I should be on that show. I think I could play at that table."
And I would go to this conference, a big show in Anaheim every year called the NAMM Show. And it's for musicians and people that sell year and stuff. And I would always fly out there, because I'm in Florida, fly out there every year and just walk around and talk to people. And that's the worst thing an introvert could possibly do. It's like self-torture, but I would do it because I was like, "I got to show my face physically, because I'm an online guy only. If I could show my face, maybe someone will connect with me." And I did that every year for like 10 years. But I remember one year I started to see Dave Pensado and his team, and I would talk to them, and I would talk to them. And it took like three or four years and eventually the assistant of the show, who knew me, and they all knew me. It was like, "Bro, we need to introduce you to Dave and to Herb." They're like, "We need to get you on the show. Why aren't you on the show?" I'm like, "Oh, that's a great idea."
And they introduced me and then they're like, "Yeah, let's get you come out to LA. Do you live near LA?" I'm like, "Sure I do." So I flew back out like a month later and just paid for it and acted like I drove up to the studio and just filmed this on the set. And I remember thinking, "I'm sitting at the table," like in my little world, this is a big deal. "I'm sitting at the table where all my heroes have sat and I feel like, quote, unquote, 'I don't belong here,' but I knew I could be here." And I think that's just, to your point, I could envision it and maybe it wouldn't have happened, and some opportunities certainly haven't happened that I have envisioned, and that's okay, you don't win all of them, but so many things have come after the fact that people think, to the old story of, "Oh, it took you 30 years to become an overnight success."
Eventually people realize maybe some of the greatness in your work or what you're doing, but it might take a long time for the people you want to see it, see it, but you have to believe in it yourself. And I just felt like there was something here and I don't think I ever really articulated it. This is good therapy for me. I'm learning a lot about myself in this episode, honestly, about reverse engineering it. But yeah, I think that's what it is. I think you're on the nail there.

Chris:

Well, thanks for sharing that. Okay. I have some other questions to ask you here, some highlights here. So let me just see if I can get through this. I think we've covered a lot of things, but I want to be sure. You say that your business idea is right in front of you. There's four questions to ask yourself. What are those questions that we need to ask?

Graham:

So you need to ask, what are you good at? What do you love? What have you had experience helping people within the past Start with that collection of questions. And that's going to give you a weird list, like I love football and eating pizza. I haven't really helped people with their football or pizza eating, so I don't know if that's valuable to the world, but you start with the... I list those things. But I like music, I like recording, I like making videos, I like singing. So I've helped people with their finances. It's funny, people come to me. I help people with their money all the time. So if you ask yourself, "Yeah, what have I helped people with? What do people text me for?" You're the guy or the gal that people come to for this, just list out all those things as a brain dump.
And then you have to ask, which of these might be valuable in the marketplace? Are people spending money around this topic? And you'd be surprised what money's being spent on these days, so there's a lot more opportunity for weird niches. I mean, if I can build a million dollar business teaching people about audio recording, people that are broke, broke musicians. If I can do that, then to your point earlier, you don't have to be selling $10,000 packages to entrepreneurs. That's what I think most people think is the only way to do it. And I did it first in a hobby niche, so it's possible. But you have to look at what's marketable.
And there's a lot of ways to find that out. You can do it like big zoom out. Are there books being written on this topic? And what are those top five books on Amazon right now on this topic? And what are the titles and what are the subtitles? What are the chapters? You can learn a lot about what people are buying already. YouTube channels, are there big channels on these subjects? And if there are, that's where people usually get scared off like, "Oh, it's already been done before." And then that's like, "No, no, no, no. That's the opposite. You run into that, because that means that there's a market for it, people are already used to spending on this market." It's so much better than finding some little micro niche in a lot of ways that no one has ever spent money on, because you're taking a gamble there. It could work out, but you're taking a gamble.
So I like to look for markets that there's a lot of people in or that you know there's money being spent on. And yeah, big research like that, or then another step is to dive deeper, talk to real people, talk to your friends, talk to your followers on social, talk to your family. If you're thinking about, "Well, I'm good at fitness, or I'm good at nutrition, or I've lost weight." You can start to tease that out with people like, "Hey, have you ever struggled with losing weight? What have those struggles been, or what do you hate about eating healthy? What do you wish you knew?" You can just start to tease out. Is there pain points? Are there paint points? What are people's dreams there? And get more meat on the bones of, "Yeah, I think I can make a business around fitness."
Well, let's get more specific. What could you help people do? And what are people asking for help with? I learned in the music space, it was built around my friends. I created a customer avatar built around my friends. My friends were musicians first, they weren't really engineers, so they were more creative brain, not technical brain. They never really wanted to be an audio engineer, they just want to know how to use the equipment good enough. They don't have a ton of money to spend, but they're willing to spend if it's the right amount. But everyone's telling them they have to spend a lot, but they don't think they have to. They don't have a good space to record in, because it's their mom's basement. I just put together all these data points. I was like, "I'm going to help these kind of people, because they're real. I'm not just going to be audio recording advice for anybody. I'm going to be for that kind of person and see if I can find more people like it."
And I built a business around it and I've done it twice. And that's sort of the process you're going through, is starting with what's already there inside of you. You don't have to create a business around selling toilet paper. That would be a really good business, but I don't know anything about that. You don't have to do that kind of business, but you should start with what's your talents, what are your interests? And not all of them are marketable. That's okay. No one's paying me to eat pizza, although I would welcome the checks. But I think there's a market inside of every one of us, because we all have helped somebody, we all are knowledgeable. Get rid of the expert language. Don't say, "I'm an expert," because that's what trips people up to. But knowledgeable, you could help somebody, you've helped somebody before, you could multiply that over thousands of people on the internet and make a living.

Chris:

Here's the business idea for you. You could write songs about your love for pizza, how some country music artists are known for writing about their trucks and dogs. You could just write about pizza. I'm sure there's an audience there for you.

Graham:

Yeah, it'd certainly be new and people crave new. Who's that pizza song guy?

Chris:

Right. Right. You could be the guy and then be sponsored by the national chains.

Graham:

There you go.

Chris:

As the pizza guy. Just songs about how you like pepperoni or whatever the topic of the day is.

Graham:

Don't tempt me. That's actually really fun.

Chris:

You never know. So the question I have for you, and I've done exercises like this with people before. "All right, Graham, Mr. Smarty Pants. I've made my list. Now I understand what I'm good at, what I love, what I have experience in doing, I have some skill and what pays well. I can't connect the dots." How do you help people connect the dots? Because they had these wonderful lists. I think the thing that you didn't say, but it is implied, is you got to find that sweet spot, the overlap of your interests, what you're good at, what you have some experience doing and what the world wants or needs in terms of what they pay for. That's not always obvious to people. How do you help them through that? Because this is a common piece of feedback that I get.

Graham:

Yeah, for sure. That's why I think if you start with the list of what you're good at and what you're interested in, then you have to systematically take each one of those, maybe start with your top three. You have to take them through, like I was alluding to, is there a market? And so look at Amazon bestselling books, look at YouTube channels, look at Google results when you type in certain topics and see what comes up to get a general sense of, are people selling stuff and buying stuff, or at least talking about pain points? Is there a pain point? Are there communities? Facebook groups are a great one. Are there free Facebook groups around this subject? And how big are they and how many are they?
My brother-in-law, I have two brothers-in-law, have helped them with their businesses. And one of them is a motorcycle mechanic for Honda bikes. He's built an entire online business around that because there's such a huge amount of people across the world who have these affinity groups online for DIY fixing their motorcycles, specifically Hondas. That's his background. And so he just built a business around that. So you can find out if there's other markets and communities there. And I think that's easier to do than people think. So you just go on the list and see like, is there money in the niche? I think what's harder, Chris, is taking that and then really creating something that is super desirable to people, because anybody could tell you, "Oh, I think that there's a market for weight loss." Yeah. Oh, yeah.
I mean, it's very easy to figure out and that's a great market to be in. You can never have too many people in that space, because there's such a high demand. But the challenge is then how are you going to stand out, and not just stand out, but how are you going to connect? I think that's a better word. How are you going to connect with people? And the way you do that is understanding the deep, dark fear, pain point that they might not say publicly, the fear beneath the fear or the pain beneath the pain. And that can come from talking to real people. It can be online, it can it be DMs, it can be you post something or you see someone post something in a group, and you're like, "Hey, that's really interesting." And you talk a bit and you're like, "Hey, would you like to talk offline about that?" Diving deep with real people and using their real language so that you're addressing their real problems or articulating back to them their real dreams.
Jay Abraham, a brilliant salesperson and educator and author, in one of his books, I think it's, Getting Everything You Can Out of All That You've Got, which is a great book. In that he talks about the businesses that can best articulate back to their customers their problem, are the ones that are going to win, because we feel that empathy of like, "Oh, they get me. She gets me. He understands me. Yeah, that's exactly what I struggle with." That's a great bridge for you standing out versus being like, "Oh, I'm going to do a weight loss business. I'm going to make a course about losing weight." That's not enough. You really want to understand what people struggle with and then what their true desires are. And that's the deep work. That's the most important thing you could do because that will help you with your content, that'll help you with your products, of course.
And I think products come way down the line. In the book, I have a six-step process to building your business and I don't think we talk about products until step four. And I think I mentioned that in the book like, you're probably more than halfway through this book and he hasn't talked about making money yet. It's called, How to Get Paid for What You Know, and it's because you can't get paid until you really deeply understand a group of people, what they need, what they want, and they feel heard when you speak to them, because when you do that, then you can sell them almost anything.

Chris:

Do you find that people struggle with the whole question of, "What is it that you know?" Because for some people, it would be like an existential crisis. Like, "What do I know anyways? Who am I to be talking about that?"

Graham:

Well, those are two existential questions, right? So what do I know? Everything that's common to us is usually uncommon to other people. And that's part of the problem, is we're so close to it. One question I try to ask students if they're feeling stuck is, if you had a Saturday all to yourself, no work, no responsibilities if you're married or you have kids, or... It's a selfish day, you could do whatever you want. And you were going to spend part of the day sitting and just reading your favorite magazine or browsing your favorite YouTube channel or podcast on a topic, what would you binge to learn about for a couple of hours on a Saturday, a lazy Saturday? Let your mind wander there. For me, one of the things I geek out about is personal finance, investing, building wealth, like normal people being financially healthy. I love that stuff. And I've probably read like a hundred books on investing and personal finance and I geek out about that.
If I didn't have these businesses, I would probably build a business around that, helping people with their money, because I could just talk about that all day, read about it. And so I think that you're onto something when you find one of those things. I don't think I'm an expert. I'm not a CPA, I don't have any education on this. I've read a lot about it, but that's where then, to your second question, and I address these early on in the book because I don't think people will go any farther with me if we don't talk about it, is that people aren't looking for an expert. I think that's outdated language. I think people in this modern era are more open to learning and getting help from just somebody as long as that person can help me.
And so we're getting help in ways we don't realize. We're learning, we're getting breakthroughs from a podcast, from a YouTube channel, from a blog. And none of these people are... Some of these people are credentialed. I shouldn't say none, but there's no gatekeeper, so anybody can start a YouTube channel or a podcast, which is good and bad. But I think smart people can sift through the nonsense and find people who are actually useful. And you don't have to have a degree to be useful.
I have so many students who are women now, who are stay-at-home moms, or are coming out of a season where they've been a stay-at-home mom. And they're just trying to create some income on the side. And they feel like either they don't have a career or their career is interrupted, and they're creating content around whatever it is they do. From how to homeschool, to fitness, to makeup, to mindset, to all kinds of stuff. I have a student, she has an entire business built around how to study your Bible. It's called Coffee & Bible Time. And it's amazing what they've been able to build. They're not, quote, unquote, "Experts." They don't have letters after their name, but people like them, trust them, and get help from them. And I think that's what people are looking for is, "Can you help me?" And if you've helped one person in the past, if it's in real life, then you can help people online. It's no different. So don't try to be an expert, just try to help people, serve people, and start there.

Chris:

You basically summed up this idea. And the idea is a form of cognitive bias, it's called the curse of knowledge. When you become an expert in the field, you forget that there was one point in your life that you did not know how to do this, so you actually skip over all these foundational things that you must get right first. And so when you teach, you're teaching at a level much higher than where people are. And so I'm going to affirm this idea that you're putting out there, which is you don't have to be an expert, you don't have to be an authority. As long as you have the skills to help people have transformations, you're already qualified. And in fact, one could argue, because you've recently gone through it yourself, the lessons are much fresher in your mind and you don't yet have that distance where you forget like, "Isn't this obvious to everyone?" And so you might be a better assistance to helping people.
The other thing I think about a lot is that every topic that you want to learn has already been taught by several people, not just one person, several people. And if all the world needed was an authority to teach one topic, we wouldn't have any other instructors and there would be no economy around this knowledge-based product thing that we're talking about. And so what they're looking for is someone they connect with, someone who's relatable, whose story that they identify with, their teaching style. It could be the way that you look, the way you sound, your tone of voice, your life experiences. It can be all these things.
Like for example, if I wanted to learn something from a finance person, maybe I don't want to learn it from a stuffy CPA. Maybe I want to learn from Graham, because maybe you'll have some fun exercises or you'll be able to talk to me about it in a way that keeps me engaged, versus like, "Here are the numbers and the facts." So I just want to put that out there to everyone. I'm not also saying that if you know nothing, this is a great way to scam people. Sometimes people interpret that, our conversation as, "Oh, you're just saying every amateur, rookie, know nothing, can go out there and be a teacher." No, you can't. You do have to spend time.
I find it fascinating that you're just this really odd duck. Performer, mixer, audio engineer. I don't know if you're singer songwriter. And then you're like personal finance, like WTF, that doesn't even go together. But there you are. So you're this weird anomaly of a lot of different interests, and I think that complexity makes the world go around. We can find a different person, avatar hero, for what it is that we want to learn. And you don't need to be for everyone, like you said, if you can show up for a thousand people who want to support you, you can have a wonderful business.
Now, there's one last question I have to ask you. There's a thousand other questions I could ask you, but I would really love for you to tackle this. How do people get over this mindset where they think to themselves, "I cannot do this. I'm not smooth like Graham is. I don't have the look, the sound, all these kinds of things." And from what you sent over like, "I don't think I deserve to make $30,000 a month." Speak about that and the power of permission, how we have to believe something is possible first.

Graham:

Oh, man. Yeah, that last one is... I was on a live stream, I was teaching for a whole week straight, and one student said that exact thing. We were talking about, "What is your goal?" And he's like, "Man, my goal for my business. I can't believe I'm typing this, is $30,000 a month, but I don't think I deserve to make that kind of money." And it broke my heart, but I know exactly what he means.
First of all, if you want to see what Graham was like when he started, go to The Recording Revolution's YouTube channel, sort the videos by oldest to newest and then laugh at me circa January 2010. I think the light was behind me instead of in front of me, so I'm in the dark at night. It was not shot in HD. I look like I'm scared out of my mind because I'm trying to think about everything I want to say. I look really angry, like a serial killer. I watch those videos every once in a while to just remember where I came from.
I think it's helpful to remember that everyone you admire in your field, or in any field, is just another human being like you. They're scared, they're fearful, they're insecure. I can tell you the more successful you become, it doesn't get any better. You don't get less scared. You have just new fears, new insecurities. The problem is that it becomes harder because now you have fewer people to talk about them with, because you'll be judged. If you share your successful person fears, nobody understands you, so the pool of people that you can relate to, diminishes. So it's very lonely at the top, as Tim Ferris will say. I'm not at the top-top, but I'm just... You know what I'm saying? It just becomes weird.
I did not expect to have these problems. And so the people you admire are probably insecure and fear, have doubts as well. Good days, bad days, we're all a mixed bag. So remembering that we're just people, it levels the playing field. And remembering that we're all differently designed, I feel like God gave everyone different talents, different ways of thinking about things. I love that. I love that because it makes the world a richer place. And so I think comparison is a huge problem. We all know that as human beings, but then social media and these tools allow us to compare ourselves to more people more often, which only exacerbates the problem.
And I think I have benefited greatly by getting off of social media, not paying attention to my competitors. I literally don't. I have a business partner. Well, we stopped doing a... We had a membership site together for seven years, are still good friends, but we ran this business together for seven years and I unsubscribed from all of this stuff. I stopped seeing his emails because I was getting jealous of what he was doing. And we're in business together and he's a good friend. I was like, "I can't look at what you're doing, bro." And I didn't tell him at first. It's a funny story after the fact, but I don't look at what my competitors are doing. I don't look what anyone's doing, because I know what it does to my heart. It makes me insecure and I get distracted.
I find that the more I just ignore the outside world and focus exclusively on the people I'm trying to serve and like, "What do they need? How could I serve them better? And what would it look like if nobody judged me and it couldn't fail?" And all our default fears are like, "What if it fails? What if it doesn't work? What if I'm not good at this?" okay. Yes. But what else could be true? What if it doesn't fail? What if it does work? What if people do love it? Think about that at least equally, and both could happen, but I think there's not enough of imagining, "What if it goes well?" And that kind of gives me some encouragement and excitement to at least dive in and just remember that isn't a skill that you go to school for and learn and then now you're, again, an expert and then you should go execute.
You learn as you go. I mean, that's the way you learned to do anything. You're a designer, you're a creative, you learned by doing. You're seeing your heroes, you're kind of copying and try to recreate things, and then you're changing it, and you develop your style. And everything you're you're doing right now is amazing on the outside. People can say, "Look what Chris is doing. It's just so good. I wish I could be like him." But you've been playing with it, and toying with it, and just developing, and you're getting a feedback loop every time you create something. You're like, "I don't like that, or they didn't like that, or I do like that." And it just informs what you do. And I think this kind of business model, you can only do it by doing it.
And the problem is you'll be doing it publicly. And I think people are afraid of that, but the good news is nobody knows about you when you get started, so no one's looking at you. So I have a friend that says, "Go ugly early." Just put your crap out there now and just realize no one's looking at you. And then you're going to figure it out as you go. And then people are going to look at you 10 years down the road and be like, "Wow, look what she built." But they're not seeing what you started with. And I like to bring my story back out. I wrote about in the book, because I don't want people to think it's always been this way. I grow up through the dark trying to figure this out. And I have students now that are doing things way better than I ever did and faster than me, and I'm excited for them, but they have a cooler story than I did because my story was a little rough.
But I want to keep that story at the forefront because I was scared, didn't think it was possible, didn't even know what I was trying to do, but you learn as you go. And you just have to be willing at the end of the day, I think, to feel like the pros outweigh the cons, the rewards might be better than what you're giving up, because you're going to give up a lot in the sense that people could judge you and it could fail. And that's scary. And that's why most people live a mediocre life and are fearful and afraid to try things and they don't do great things. It's really hard to do great things because people could completely judge you in the process and it could fail. But that's what keeps it fun and it makes you feel alive, but I don't think that fear goes away. It hasn't for me. I don't know about you, Chris, but it hasn't for me.

Chris:

No. Which book is this now? I think it's Mark Manson's book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving an F. He says that we all have problems. A rich person has a problem with money and a poor person has a problem with money. The poor person doesn't have enough of it, the rich person is like, "What do I do with this money? How do I shelter? How do I protect it from everyone trying to take a piece of it?" So all we do is we trade our problems for better problems. So in life, we just hope for better problems. So in then in the beginning, when you're just kind of in the darkness, when no one cares, you wish that one day someone would see it. And then everyone sees and you're like, "I wish everyone would leave me alone and stop telling me what to do." Because that happens too. And things continue to evolve in that way.
There's a bunch of other things I would love to talk to you about, but I realize we're way over time here. I've been talking to Graham Cochrane. His new book, How to Get Paid for What You Know, comes out March 22nd, everywhere where you can buy a book, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, wherever you can get it. If you've enjoyed this conversation, go check out his book. He also has multiple places where you can check him out on YouTube and social media. So Graham, where can people go to find out more about you?

Graham:

Yeah. If you want to hang out on Instagram, I do that a bit at thegrahamcochrane. And if you want to dive in and have a free workshop, that walks you through the business model, the kind of the stuff we talk about in the book, it's at grahamcochrane.com/gift. You can just opt in there and you'll be on my email list, you'll hear from me and get some cool stuff for free. But there's a completely free workshop that I think will break it down for you if you really want to dive deep.

Chris:

I saw that. So do check that out, everybody, if you enjoy this conversation. And for all our audience who see themselves as artists and musicians, I hope you're satisfied. We finally got someone in here to talk about it and hopefully everyone else, you can relate to of this. It's a wonderful story that you share. I also appreciate your transparency and talking about numbers and the hard, humble beginnings that sometimes people like to gloss right over. I do appreciate that, Graham.

Graham:

I appreciate you, Chris. Thanks for having an amazing conversation. This was fun.

Chris:

Thank you.

Graham:

My name is Graham Cochrane and you're listening to The Futur.

Greg Gunn:

Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur Podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode. And thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.


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