Scott Voelker may be a new grandparent but has the energy of a teenager. This year marks his 19th year being self-employed, and although he is slowing down to focus more on family, his workload at Brand Creators is still more than most will tackle in a lifetime. Running the Rock Your Brand Podcast is his primary focus with nearly 900 episodes and 16 million podcast downloads, but that’s just the start. Last year Scott checked a few things off his to-do list:
Ran a high-level mastermind (10 people at $25,000 to join).
Completed a $200k home renovation for an Airbnb rental.
Managed his podcast 175k-350k monthly downloads.
Created online courses for Brand Creators.
Hosted a live event with over 250 people in attendance. (pre-Covid)
Completed a handful of exciting case studies.
Sold a business which all together netted just at 7 figures.
In his early days, Scott would see others being successful with a project or business and think, “I can do that, I can do better”, and next thing you know he would be building something new. For those that know Scott best, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Even before Scott was building a business, he was building homes in the construction industry. Scott loves to create new things. Scott has been in both the online world and physical brick and mortar businesses. He previously ran a photography studio for 5 years. It’s these types of experiences that have made him incredible at building brands.
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Scott’s Philosophy on Building Brands
Interestingly Scott has been able to boil down two things that are the same for every brand. Whether it’s building an Amazon FBA business, launching a live event, selling courses, brick and mortar stores or niche websites, Scott says one thing is always consistent.
Traffic + Offers is the core of any business.
You have to have an audience to sell to (traffic) and something to sell (offers) that makes a profit.
Scott’s Key Strategies on Building Brands
While this is a bit simplified, Scott dove a little deeper into business strategies that he used to build the business that netted him 7 figures in the three and half years building the company he recently sold.
This particular business he grew with a business partner. While it started off as an Amazon FBA business, they also built an authority site in the space that really enhanced the overall business.
Grow your email list.
This is a traffic channel you can control. It’s also efficient and cost-effective. Running contests and landing pages with lead magnets was Scott’s go-to strategy in growing an email list for their authority site.
With the contests, he was finding he could run a Facebook ad and generate email subscribers at .15-.18 cents per subscriber. The lead magnets would be closer to .70 cents per conversion, but he found subscribers’ quality to be much greater.
The tool he uses for the contests is Giveaway Boost, a WordPress plugin. He actually partnered with Chris Guthrie a mutual friend of ours to build this tool. Check out Giveaway Boost for yourself!
Don’t Disregard Ad Monetization
For the longest time, Scott was convinced that adding ads to your website wasn’t worth it. He felt it diluted the value of the site and distracted from the main goals of the site. In his case the goal was to sell products on Amazon not earn revenue through selling ads.
This all changed after talking with someone who was having success with ads. Scott decided to give it a try, and his only regret was that he didn’t start sooner.
Using premium ad platforms (like Mediavine and Adthrive), he was sometimes generating nearly $6k a month in display ad revenue. The Amazon products were still the primary money maker, but the extra income far outweighed the negatives of adding ads to his site.
Similar to how he diversified the advertising fees. Scott recommends repurposing content for additional revenue.
For example, after doing Facebook live events, he would upload the video content to YouTube. After a while, the YouTube channel started making a couple of hundred dollars a month for little extra work.
Another monetization strategy was to include a call to action for a paid product after converting someone from a Facebook Advertising campaign. The primary goal is to capture the email subscriber, but if you can upsell them on the back end to offset the ad costs, it makes running ads a game-changer.
Consistency is required
When Scott signs up in his own head to do something, he’s going to do it. Scott says consistency has done him well. The fact he has 900 podcast episodes is a testament Scott can be consistent.
Scott’s giving credit to consistency reminds me a lot of what Nathan Barry from ConvertKit said in one of our last podcast episodes, it’s evident that consistency is a critical factor in any brand.
What I love about these strategies is that it doesn’t matter what business you are in. They work. The products they sold in this business were accessories to household items—for example, an accessory to a Kirby vacuum or other appliances.
Selling the Business
After three and half years and the decision to simplify a bit, Scott and his partner in this Amazon FBA business decided to sell. Scott and his partner choose Quiet Light Brokerage to sell. Before they sold, they met with their team and were sure to prepare themselves early. They started to get their financials in line with a third party accountant and prepare the business for the sale. Their preparation paid off. When listing the business, 6 offers came almost immediately. They choose one of the highest bidders, but unfortunately, Covid hit.
100+ battle-tested strategies applied to 175 websites over 12 years to increase website valuations
The benefits of taking the extra time to prepare financials allowed the buyer to leverage the SBA lending options. When Covid hit, finding a bank open to complete the deal delayed things. Eventually, after about a month, the buyer backed out. They went back to the drawing board and eventually sold the business to a very capable, if not better, buyer.
Getting Back to Creating a Lifestyle Business with Brand Creators
Selling the business was a significant component of simplifying and getting back to creating a lifestyle business for Scott. Scott knew he was pushing the limits with so much going on. Even with the sale of the business, Scott made an important decision.He was no longer going to compare himself to others. He would instead look at what he wanted. Pick his own numbers to challenge himself with, understand those numbers, and get real with it. The first step was the rebrand of his podcast from “The Amazing Seller” to “Rock Your Brand”.
Rebranding Amazing Seller to Rock Your Brand Podcast
In business, it’s not uncommon to take on the identity of your business brand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been referred to as the “Niche Pursuits guy” Scott found he was known as being the “Amazon Seller Guy”. He wanted to expand to other things than just the Amazon sales. No, he’s not saying goodbye to Amazon, but Amazon is simply a tool. The rebrand allowed Scott to focus on what he was truly great at, building brands. The rebranding also allowed him to stay true to himself and the lifestyle business he wanted. The Rock Your Brand podcast allowed him to not just talk about Amazon selling, but all things business.Not only could he have unique guests on his show, but he could talk about health, fitness, or even business mindsets, things that are often highly needed and neglected for entrepreneurs. But the broader niche didn’t solve all his problems. In fact, this required him to focus more. He scaled back even more by stopping the sale of his courses, slowing down on case studies, deciding to put his focus in just a few areas.
Little Workshops 3-hour lessons he can tackle on a Saturday and turn into evergreen content.
Podcasting 3 times a week.
Scott and I go way back, and I’m excited to see him put his focus into these areas. He’s built himself a great funnel and will hopefully be able to spend a lot more time being grandpa “Papa” Scott. One of the things Scott and I connect the most with is our attention to the family. Many people say that family comes first, but with Scott, you know he means it. From his father as his mentor to how he makes his kid’s events a priority. Even with taking on so much, it’s evident his family truly comes first. You can read more about Scott, his family, podcast, and brand creators academy at BrandCreators.com
Starting a new business is often a daunting prospect, but technology has made the process a lot easier, making it a lot more accessible and reducing the risk involved for many emerging entrepreneurs. While once starting a new venture would have required the costly investment in a physical space, equipment and a number of staff, the emergence and growth of online businesses has changed what it means to be a brand entirely. Read on to find out more about starting online businesses and get inspired.
Focus on a niche you understand or have experience in
When it comes to starting an online business, it can feel like the world is your oyster. There are limitless options for what kind of business you might want to choose from, but rather than picking something that is currently trending or in the news, you’ll be better off investing your energy and resources in a niche that you are familiar with.
With millions of online businesses present from all around the world, the internet can be a competitive space to try to stand out in. Going with your area of expertise and personal background means that you can communicate more effectively and have a better connection with your audience. If you are an expert in something specialized like ultrasonic sensors, then you’ll be far more likely to succeed by leaning into your knowledge, rather than trying to learn something entirely new from scratch.
Create an effective website
Your website is your store front and business space, and how it looks and works will have a significant impact on your potential customers. A poorly working website that is slow to load, difficult to navigate or confusing to use will reflect poorly on your business, so you cannot afford to cut corners here.
Do your homework into what makes good website design work and take a look at other sites for inspiration. If you’re inexperienced or unfamiliar with the process of web design, employing a professional to create one for you can be a worthwhile investment.
Share your knowledge to attract website visitors
Once you have created a website and registered your online business, there is still a lot more work to do. With a huge amount of other websites out there to choose from, making your business stand out is essential.
A great way of doing this is by building a good reputation as an expert. This can be done in many ways, but one of the most effective is by sharing your knowledge and expertise on online articles. Create a blog and post regularly, or encourage people to ask you questions. Get involved in social media to build more direct online relationships that are about more than just pitching sales, and learn more about the community that your products or services will appeal to, to understand their needs. By doing this, you can create a meaningful and memorable connection, that will help to make your brand stand out amongst the rest.
Google is constantly innovating and testing new features, and augmented reality (AR) is a hot topic right now.
You might think of AR as a way to make digital images appear in your living room. But Google’s visual search technology for Android, Google Lens,does a lot more than that.
It enables you to bring your physical environment into the digital world.
What Is Google Lens?
Google Lens is an image recognition technology that allows users to interact with real-world objects using their phone’s camera.
Using AI, Google’s technology interprets the objects on your phone camera and provides additional information. It can scan and translate text, see furniture in your house, and help you explore local landmarks.
Have you ever been traveling and wished you could read that train ticket in a foreign language? With Google Lens, just hover your phone camera over it, and it will translate the text for you.
You can also use Google Lens to learn about your environment in other ways. If you point your camera at a nearby landmark, you’ll see historical facts and information about opening hours. If you use it on an animal or plant, it can identify the type of flower or the breed of dog.
When eating out at a restaurant, you see which items on the menu are most popular (this information is pulled from Google Maps). Students can even use it to help them with their homework: if they hover over an equation, they’ll get a step-by-step guide to solve the problem.
But one of Google Lens’ most exciting applications for marketers, and the one I’m going to talk about today, has to do with online shopping.
Say a user is browsing on their phone and sees a sweater they like.
Rather than typing a long query into Google (“brown sweater, zig-zag pattern…”), the user can tap and hold the image, and Google Lens will find the same item (or a similar one), so they can buy it.
The app also provides style tips and ideas about what items to pair with the sweater. The recommendations are based on AI’s understanding of how people in fashion photos typically wear similar clothing.
Before the shopping feature came out, users could already search for clothing by taking a screenshot and opening it in Google Photos, or by pointing their camera at a physical item in a store. Long clicking on an online image for an instant search just makes the whole process easier.
In the future, Google plans to make AR showrooms available, so shoppers may soon be able to try on clothes at home virtually.
How Can E-commerce Businesses Optimize for Google Lens?
Once SEOs experiments with the long click search, we’ll gain some more insights into what works and what doesn’t with that specific feature.
But we know a fair bit since Google Lens and image search have been around for a few years.
Here’s what you do if you want to optimize for Google Lens:
Get Your Products to Appear on Google Lens
Before we get into specifics about image optimization, you’ll want to make sure your product listings show up on Google. So how do you do that? With product listings.
If you take advantage of Google’s free product listings, your products will show up in Google Search, Google Images, Google Shopping, and Google Lens searches. However, they need to follow Google’s policies, and you’ll need to do one of the following two things:
Open a Google Merchant Center account and create a feed to upload your product data
Integrate structured data markup onto your website
Google Merchant Center
Google Merchant Center lets Google know more about your products, so they can list them in search.
Click “Sign in to Merchant Center” in the dropdown menu.
Then, enter your business’ name and information.
Scroll down, and fill in more information about your checkout process, tools you use, and whether you’d like to receive emails.
When you’re finished, agree to the Terms of Service and click “Create Account.”
Once you’ve created your account, don’t forget to add your products.
You can do this by creating a product feed. On the home screen of your new account, click “Add product data”:
You can then choose to add individual or multiple products.
Structured Data Markup
If you don’t want to use Google Merchant Center, you can still get your products to show up on Google Lens and elsewhere. However, you’ll need to add some structured data markup to your website. (In fact, I recommend doing this even if you do use Google Merchant Center.)
Follow Google Image Optimization Best Practices With Google Lens
Google Lens technology is similar to Google’s reverse image search, but with a more sophisticated use of AI. A lot of the same principles that apply to regular image optimization for SEO also apply when you’re optimizing for Google Lens.
Large images that load slowly (or not at all) can hurt your SEO (as well as making your website less user-friendly).
Since e-commerce websites tend to have many images (as they should!), loading times are particularly important.
Make sure to use keywords and descriptive language wherever you can, for example in image titles, ALT text, filenames, and EXIF data.
Add image titles and ALT text via the HTML of your website, or using your content management system (like WordPress or Squarespace).
EXIF data can be edited locally on your computer. This data adds more in-depth information to your photo, such as the time and date it was taken and what camera was used.
Although machine learning tools like Google Lens rely more on image recognition than text when executing a search, adding clear and relevant information to your image can improve SEO and user experience.
Use High Photo Quality and Visuals For Google Lens
Another way to optimize for Google Lens is by providing crystal clear product images.
If someone long clicks on a brown sweater in a photo, and that sweater is a product you sell in your e-commerce store, you want your product to come up as part of their search. To do that, Google needs to understand the brown sweater you’re selling is the item the searcher is looking for.
Look through your website and replace any images that are blurry, cropped oddly, or don’t fully show items.
Google Lens isn’t the only game in town. Pinterest offers a similar feature, called Pinterest Lens.
Just like Google Lens, Pinterest Lens allows users to shop for products from third-party retailers. Users can take a photo, upload one, or hover over a physical item with their camera to use the feature.
So what’s the difference between Google Lens and Pinterest Lens?
On Pinterest, there’s a lot of action going on inside the Pinterest app. Unlike the all-pervasive Google, Pinterest is a specific ecosystem with its own Verified Merchant Program and internal search engine.
If you want to optimize your brand for Pinterest Lens, make sure you have a Pinterest business account, get your products onto Pinterest using Catalogs, and join the Verified Merchant Program.
Otherwise, many of the same rules apply as with Google Lens. To get found in Pinterest Lens, optimize your images by adding keywords in the filename, title, and ALT text, and ensure photos load fast and are high quality.
What Does Google Lens Mean for Marketers?
Advances in Google Lens search aren’t just changing the nature of SEO. They also represent a significant shift in the way people look for products.
Nowadays, if you want to shop online, you might go to an online store and type in a specific search term. When you’ve found what you’re looking for, you’ll check out and go back to whatever you were doing before.
But with Google Lens, every minute you spend online becomes a potential shopping experience. While you’re busy looking through social media posts, reading blog articles, or messaging friends, you might spot an item you like and start casually browsing through products.
Tech journalists have viewed Google’s focus on improving the Shopping and Lens experiences as part of a broader strategy to compete with Amazon… and they’re probably right.
Google wants people to spend more time in Google search and less time browsing e-commerce websites.
If you’re a marketer working in e-commerce, this is big news. It means in the future, fewer people might be visiting your website directly by typing it into the address bar. Instead, they may arrive directly via channels like Google Lens or Pinterest Lens.
In the future, we may see brands investing more heavily in strategies like product placement as part of their marketing. If tons of pictures of a famous person using your product are floating around the web, people could then easily seek that product out directly with a Lens search.
Google is always innovating and creating new and different ways to search. Google Lens is the most recent example of the search giants’ constant growth.