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How to Build an Algorithm-proof Ecommerce Business with Joe & Mike Brusca
On this episode of Quiet Light, we talk with Joe and Mike Brusca. We discuss Ecommerce and how they built an Amazon publishing business. It’s a really interesting look at one Ecommerce business model and how it works. Tune in to hear us discuss the right and wrong way to drive traffic and why their business is such a success.
- How they got their start during the “wild west” period of Ecommerce.
- How to structure your business when you get paid “per page reads”.
- The Right Way and The Wrong Way to drive traffic.
- Building an algorithm-proof business.
- The “right” types of books.
- Delayed profitability and building your back-catalogue.
- How Joe and Mike are planning their eventual exit.
- The four pillars of value.
Joe: One of the cool things about what we do, Mark, is that we’re exposed to so many different business models. There are a million ways to make a living both on and offline. You can do all sorts of things offline, but online, it’s not just writing content and producing affiliate revenues or building a brand and selling it on Shopify or e-commerce or building on a SaaS business. And we have the luxury and privilege of talking to so many people and learning what they do and how they do it and how they make money. There’s not just one model for everyone. And you had Joe and Mike Brusca, is that how you pronounce the last name?
Mark: I believe so.
Joe: On building an Amazon publishing business to sell. And, I talked to somebody a year or so ago that did a similar thing and wanted to sell. And unfortunately, folks, he didn’t have his numbers together. He didn’t have any financials. He just had a lot of high-level details and it’s not something we thought we could sell because we want to protect both the buyer and the seller. In this case, these guys were doing a very similar thing; building out a lot of content through actually having books published and earning revenue off of that. How did that call go?
Mark: It was fascinating. I mean like you said, we get the chance to see different people’s business models and look they made no allusions to anything other than the fact that they are looking to build this business and eventually sell it, which is where it became a really interesting conversation for me to have. There are so many different business models out there and we know most of them that exist, right? There’s SaaS, there’s content, there’s drop shipping and e-commerce in general but what they’ve started is a publishing business and leveraging a different part of Amazon, which is really how Amazon got to start and that is their publishing and selling of books. We dug into what that business model looks like; how are they making money from selling Amazon Books and primarily, this is where their difference is, right? They’re not just selling books for the face value of $10 to download this Kindle book but they’re utilizing Kindle Free Time, which is an Amazon-specific program that’s generating, frankly, quite a bit of money. In fact, they mentioned the best month so far is $25,000 in a single month of revenue for content that once it’s built, it’s built and it’s ready to go and their back catalog perpetuates itself.
Joe: That’s called cash flow folks. If you’re building a product business, you’re constantly putting money in inventory as the business grows. That’s a beautiful model.
Mark: These guys are classic Internet entrepreneurs. They’ve sold a few dropship businesses in the past. They have some other e-commerce businesses that they’re building to sell as well. So if anything else, this is just a fascinating conversation about building a business that maybe you don’t know exists out there. I didn’t really know much about this and I’ll confess after this I spent about half an hour researching what the top books and the Kindle Free Time library are on Amazon just to see is this something that anybody can do. And I think it is something anybody can do but if you enjoy kind of digging into somebody’s business models, these guys are incredibly open about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. They do have a coaching program and that was one of the things that they wanted to come out for the podcast but there certainly wasn’t a sales pitch for that. This is more just kind of exposing what they’re doing. I asked them some tough questions as well, and I think they appreciated the fact that I didn’t just throw softballs. I wanted to really challenge them a little bit on this concept and what they’re doing and just interesting stuff.
Joe: Yeah, I’m looking forward to listening to it. Before we go there, folks, this is part of what we do at Quiet Light. We try to bring interesting guests on to help you learn different business models and different ways to earn a living and build a better business. If you’ve got a story that you want to share where you think you can help the Quiet Light audience, remember reach out to myself or Mark. You can reach us at [email protected] or [email protected] and let us know what your story is that you want to share, how you can help folks, and possibly we’ll be able to get you on the show as a guest. With that, let’s go to the podcast.
Mark: All right, guys, I’m excited to have two entrepreneurs on this week’s podcast in a little bit of a different spin on online businesses; an area that I haven’t explored very much but is growing very quickly. And I’m interested in, first of all, this business model in general because I see it as a potentially interesting opportunity, but also in maybe some applications that we can leverage this type of business for. But in order to do that, we kind of have to dig into what is this whole niche and this whole industry that’s kind of springing up. And so with that in mind, I have Joe and Michael on the line here on the podcast. Guys, thanks for coming on, I really appreciate having you here. Why don’t we just go ahead and if you could just introduce yourselves real quickly and let us know who you are?
Joe: Cool. Thanks for having us, Mark. And we’re Joe and Mike. We’re brothers. Joe Brusca, Mike Brusca, and we’re from BuildAssetsOnline.com. We’ve been doing online business since around 2014. It’s kind of when we got started. We had regular jobs and all that, and then we ended up and somehow fell into building online businesses. And, one of the first online businesses that we ever did was publishing books on Amazon Kindle. And when we first started it, it was a bit of a Wild West situation where it was kind of new and Amazon didn’t really have their stuff figured out yet and a lot of people were exploiting the systems and their platform wasn’t really fully evolved but now it’s turned into a really viable long term business model. And in these past few years, we’ve kind of put together a process that allows us to build and make royalties pretty much on autopilot. And we’ve seen in the past few years some of these Kindle businesses sell for over a million dollars. We haven’t sold ours yet but, yeah we’re going to talk about that because it really is a great business model; very, very easy to do, very straightforward, and once you get it going, very passive.
Mark: All right so you guys are selling Kindle books. Is that correct?
Mike: Yes. We’re selling Kindle books and like Joe said, it kind of fits into anyone who has an online business portfolio. It is a really great option to have because it’s probably one of the most passive models that there is where there is royalties and so it’s definitely a unique form of diversification. We’ve sold drop shipping businesses, we’ve dabbled in affiliate websites and so we’ve kind of seen the entire breadth of online businesses that you can do and it’s definitely one that we are putting extra energy into long-term.
Mark: Now, I want to dig into this a bit more, because I’ll be honest, when you guys first approached me about talking about this on the podcast and everything else I was like Kindle, okay, sounds fine, whatever, it doesn’t really fit with what we normally talk here but then when you started to get into some of the details, it was interesting just as far as what you’re doing, you’re getting royalties for these books, but it’s not necessarily you just going on Amazon, listing a book for sale, and then selling it because obviously, that would be; I know a lot of people who have had published books that went up on Amazon and didn’t do much there. Maybe they’ve sold a few and everything, but nothing to write home about. You guys are now talking about selling this for millions of dollars so there’s obviously a twist here. I’d love to dig in a little bit deeper here into this. What are you guys doing that might be different from the guy who signs up with XYZ Publishing Company and they add the Kindle book and then they might sell 100 or 500 copies of their e-book?
Mike: The main difference is that we’re creating our own publishing company and what we’re selling is essentially publication company or that pen name. And so we’re going out and we’re making these books under specific pen names, and it’s all with the purpose of generating an audience. So like you said, you can put a book out there on Kindle and nothing’s going to happen. What you need to actually focus on is building that brand. And so that pen name becomes a brand just like any other Clorox or whatever brand you could think of that people buy in private equity. It’s kind of the same thing. So you’re creating these digital products under this pen name. You’re developing an email list. You’re developing an author website. You can even put your books on ACX, which is Amazon’s that’s how you get on audible, so it’s an Amazon company. And so, you have the Kindle version, the paperback version, and the audiobook version. You’re doing this with the whole purpose of generating just a big customer base and that is really where the asset lies.
Mark: When you’re putting these up for sale are you getting money from the direct purchase of these books; how are you generating revenue from these?
Mike: So you get money from the direct purchase of the books. But Amazon also offers something really unique, and that’s the Kindle Unlimited program. So there’s a huge readership for fiction books and so Amazon wants to accommodate this. And so what they do is for $50 a month or whatever it is now, you can sign up to what’s called Kindle Unlimited and you basically can read as many books as you want throughout the month. And so any book that’s enrolled into the Kindle Unlimited program, you can download it for free. The way that the publisher gets paid through that is by the amount of pages that get read. And so doing fiction books it’s even more advantageous because you can publish novel-length books or you’ve probably experienced with any show that you’ve watched once you start watching an episode, you’re going to go back through the entire back catalog. And so that’s what we’re trying to capitalize on in order to get the most page reads.
Mark: Okay, so the model here is Kindle Unlimited, you get paid per page read so, therefore, you’re wanting to create content that is going to be an easy page-turner, as it were, right? I’m not going to publish some Academia throw it up on Kindle Unlimited and do very well with that sort of approach, right?
Mike: Correct. And yeah if you’re doing something maybe non-fiction or something more academic, it may serve you better just to have it as a straight purchase option. So, 9.99 or even though we sell books at 2.99 those books can actually still do really well as long as they’re part of a bigger catalog because people will decide to buy that book. So we kind of employ that as a strategy. We mix, regular sales with Kindle Unlimited, but Kindle Unlimited still makes up probably 80% of the income.
Mark: Okay. Now, you guys have built an entire business around this. I’d love to dig into a little bit longer. How long have you been doing this?
Mike: So we started it back in 2015. Joe, did you want to say something there?
Joe: No, I was going to say 2015, but it’s evolved a lot over time like I was kind of alluding to earlier. And I think we only may have resumed it. We kind of took a little bit of a hiatus when we started getting into other online businesses. We’re mainly working with building high ticket drop shipping stores and building affiliate sites and content sites. So we kind of took a little bit of a hiatus but then I think around two years ago is when we really got back into Kindle; when we kind of saw that Amazon was really improving the platform and there were there was actually a lot of potential to build a long term business on it because like I mentioned earlier, it is kind people have been publishing on Kindle for a long time but in our opinion two years ago, that was really when it became the most viable thing to do long term and that’s when we kind of start seeing these types of businesses pop up for sale.
Mark: Yeah. So you got started at 2015 so about five years ago, but really in earnest over the past two years and would have spent some of those iterations over the years with the things that you’ve had to do to adjust to make this into an actual business.
Joe: So I do want to clarify that over that kind of three-year hiatus of not doing a lot of publishing, we were still actually making money. So we’re talking no hours a month into this business and it was still bringing in, probably a five-figure outcome each year. So, again, it’s really something that’s super passive, especially once you do it right. But we were doing things that; basically Amazon has an algorithm and so when you put out a book, you want to get us as high in the algorithm as possible. You want to get that best-selling status or you want to do something to have people on Amazon find you. And so that was kind of the intention in the beginning. It was more focused on like you said you’re storing the books on Amazon and seeing what would happen. And so that’s kind of how we started out doing it. We weren’t doing any of this actual brand building or email list-focused marketing and stuff that. And like Joe said Amazon was kind of like the Wild Wild West, there weren’t a lot of rules in place, people were kind of exploiting those rules. And then Amazon began to crack down on that in 2016 and they’re always kind of tweaking the algorithm and trying to make things more of a level playing field and just encourage certain behaviors. So over time, the trend has really gone in the direction of having your own external traffic source that you can drive to Amazon and so they reward you for that. And your reward is increased exposure on Amazon so you get that internal traffic. But. If you’re actually getting good books and you’re focusing on building a brand, these people will come off of Amazon onto your list, and the cycle kind of repeats itself.
Mark: All right. So I’m getting the general idea for it. You’ve got into a little bit as far as if you do things right, which is a loaded phrase; I mean you guys have doing this now for five years and if you do things right is the result of a five-year process of tweaking and figuring things out. Let’s first start though with doing things wrong where it is just throwing it up on Amazon and hoping and praying which is no different than selling a product on Amazon. You throw something up on Amazon hope and pray, you’re not going to have much success. You need to have a plan. So what are some of the wrong approaches and then what are some of the right approaches on starting up a Kindle business that can be a sellable asset in the future?
Joe: Well, when we first started doing it. Yeah, like you said we were just throwing books on Amazon but the thing is we weren’t really writing the type of books that we’re writing now. So when I say writing, I mean publishing, because we don’t actually write the books. But yeah, it was more about just; back then, Amazon’s algorithm really rewarded more so than it does now things that were new. So if you put a new book up with the right keywords, even though it was a short book, as long as it was keyworded right it would show up in the right categories but now it’s not really like that. So when we say the right way and the wrong way, that’s pretty much the wrong way because it doesn’t really work anymore. But it did work at a time and you can kind of see this and it makes sense from Amazon’s perspective, is that they want that external traffic. I mean, they’re always trying to drive people to Amazon and that’s what they reward now. So the wrong way to do is it’s at a different time and just taking advantage of how the algorithm was back then. But I don’t really see it going back to that direction because like Mike said, it’s been moving in the direction that we’re talking about now, which is the right way for some time now.
Mark: Okay, go ahead, Mike.
Mike: Yeah. If I could just add one thing, really, what we’ve, kind of waited all those years to serve and hone in on now in terms of doing things the right way, is building the business back up in a way that’s algorithm proof so that if we’re throwing all these books on Amazon and they change something it doesn’t completely destroy our business. So now when you have your own readership off of Amazon, it’s kind of a win-win relationship for both platforms; good books, people enjoy reading them so they come kind of into your sphere but you give that back to Amazon and they reward you.
Mark: Right. Yeah, I mean, it’s no big shocker that Amazon likes it when you send traffic over to them. I mean, that’s kind of a rule of Amazon, you want to play well with them, send them traffic. So let’s actually dissect some of this here. And you talked about the right type of books, the wrong type of books, and then we’ve also talked about building traffic, and we’ve also talked about publishing these books. So there are three loaded questions in here which is what are the right type of books number one, and what are the wrong type of books and then second of all would be okay, drive traffic; how? What does that look like? Build a brand is easier to say, it’s three words, doing that is no easy task. Building up a following of people is always difficult. And then the third question is writing these things; how do you get them written? So these are all big topics and I don’t want to throw them all at you at once so let’s go ahead and start with that first one. What are the right type of books, what are the wrong type of books, and what are the books that you just have no idea if it’s right or wrong?
Mike: Yeah, and to be clear, we hate platitude as well so I don’t want to just linger there. So the right types of books would be; like I was saying before you get paid based on page reads. Back in the day, people used to just draw up short books just to kind of; you’re kind of throwing as many pieces of bait out there, seeing if one rises to the top and then just kind of going from there. Now we publish books that are usually 30,000 words in length at least so that would be considered novel-length. People would go all the way up to 80,000 words and more and so we say that the right type of book has to be a length that readers can enjoy nut it also has to be a book that is written towards what the market is already demanding. And so what does that mean again? You actually need to do your research and go on Amazon and see; you’d have a very, very keen eye as to the trends that are going on; what types of covers are there, are there any similarities in the covers, any similarities in the titles, going through some of the content of the books? You’re trying to pinpoint what it is that readers actually enjoy. And so by doing that, you’re more likely to get better conversions, more read-throughs, more people actually subscribing to your email list, and that’s what we mean by the right book. And so then you’re talking about driving traffic. So it’s like we said when people find you and they enjoy your books you can get them off Amazon by giving them say like a free book if they subscribe to your list. And so now you build up a readership. And there’s also a lot of other websites where you go and collaborate with other authors and kind of do list swaps. So you’re building yourself up that way and so external traffic with Kindle is always about the list. But also, you can take that and say even put it onto Facebook by doing something like a look-a-like audience and now you can kind of ramp up more traffic to Amazon. And a lot of times you do it with the purpose of, again, giving them more referral traffic so they can boost you higher in the algorithm. Yeah, there’s other ways to capitalize on it as well by making your own publishing website or you’re own author website doing things like blogging there to get traffic. And now, again, you have that audience pixeled, you can use them to drive traffic to Amazon.
Mark: Right. Okay, so from your guys perspective and I’m not going to ask you to open up all the doors of your P&Ls historically here but when we’re talking about building a network and building a brand and everything, there’s a lot of expenses associated with this. So you talked a little bit about the passive revenue, which is great, people love passive revenue. But what goes on behind the scenes? I looked at ads and sites before where somebody fills up an ad on-site and they’re like look at this thing it’s generating $10,000 a month in passive income. But what they didn’t show you is the $150,000 they spent on content and link building over the past year. And so you’re like, okay, you’re just getting started now you sure hope that that lasts for you. You guys seem to have the sort of cost of authors which we need to talk about at some point; how do you find the writers and how do they get compensated and then also building up this audience? Well, what does this look like from an expense standpoint compared to what you get from Amazon? I would assume profitable otherwise you wouldn’t be talking about this but what are we looking at here?
Mike: Well, I would say there’s really two paths you can go down. So we talked about you can use Facebook and drive traffic that way and that would be more of a kind of accelerated approach to trying to get quicker earnings on Amazon. Or you can do more of a slow and steady approach, which is kind of what we do with a little bit of Facebook ads. So what this means is just consistent but relatively low cost. Just say okay, I’m going to invest in a book a month and if you’re just consistent with that, say it costs you 500 to 800 bucks a month for all your expenses, your book cover, editing, whatever. Obviously, when you put that first book out, you’re not going to be profitable immediately. You have to also do some list building expenses, maybe. But over time, over the course of a few months, you start to build up quickly. Okay, now I’m making $20 a day, now I’m making $30 a day. And so it’s really a snowball effect as you build up that back catalog, as you gain more followers. And so now once you have a bigger following, you put a book out and then you get a return on that book pretty quickly.
Joe: It’s nothing like you illustrated with that ad sense example. So, again, I don’t really have the numbers in front of me, but I can give you a rough estimate. So I think it was a few months ago when we usually make between; so there’s a few months ago where we made over $26,000 in royalties and we probably got one book published that month where we spent the $500 to $800 and we probably spent 3,000 or 4,000 in Facebook ads that month. That’s a rough estimate of what you would see typically. But again, it varies because sometimes you’re not always heavily promoting on Facebook. Depending on what month it is, maybe you put out two books but we tend to put out one book a month. But, yeah, that’s generally what it looks like for us now. When you’re getting started, it’s obviously going to be slower. But I’ve made affiliate sites and I made sites that rely on SEO and link building and the expenses are nowhere near that, not even in the same ballpark.
Mark: Okay, you guys lost me a little bit here. $500 to $800, write a 30,000 plus word book, I mean, I pay $500 for a single blog post on our site. So let’s talk a little about sourcing authors, I know you guys are in the fiction space here, are fiction writers that much more willing to write for $800 or $500 or what’s going on behind the scenes there?
Mike: Yeah. So it’s definitely a bit of a different market than getting a blog post written or even a nonfiction book because there’s really no research involved. It’s just kind of a creative process. So comparing it at a cent per word basis, it’s going to be a lot lower. And there are people that invest more into that, there are people that invest less. But what we found is honestly as long as the books are good then people will read them, the audience response to them well. We’ve kind of gotten to a nice, sweet spot there where you can invest more and maybe that has a better return; I don’t know, we haven’t really experimented too much but yeah, that’s really you can certainly go on Upwork or even Craigslist we found writers or you could probably go on Indeed and find writers. But it’s not an uncommon rate to spend say two cents a word or even less on a fiction book.
Joe: To write a blog post for your company, Mark, I mean that’s a lot more expertise required than writing a fiction book for sure. And fiction writers, think about it in terms of rarity; how many people love reading fiction, love writing fiction compared to how many people have any sort of knowledge about online business. I mean, the supply and demand there is just totally, totally different.
Mark: Do you guys read the books that you publish?
Mike: In the beginning, I did. I was kind of bootstrapping it but these days no, we just kind of; I mean, I’ll read samples like if I’m hiring someone new just so I can evaluate if they’re actually good at writing. But no, it’s just they send it in, it goes to the editor, get the cover design, put it together, send it out. And so if there was any real issues we also have an advanced reader team so they get the book as well to write reviews because Amazon actually does allow you to give away your book for reviews. Right now at 2020 in May they allow it. And that is because it’s a very common practice in fiction. You give people the book early to let you know how it is. You can’t do that with a physical product. So it actually allows you; it’s much easier to develop that social proof and you also are not giving away all of your 20, hundred thousand units to get reviews back like with FBA.
Mark: Right, because it’s a virtual product at the end of the day. I want to backtrack a little bit because I’ve had this nagging question my head. You talked about the number of page reads, they pay on the number of pages read, they’re not looking at the furthest amount that you’ve gone in the book but actual time spent on each page is that right? Do you know?
Mike: I don’t know their exact process, but I would say it’s kind of a combination of both. I mean, there’s probably a number of time that they spend on a page for it to count and then it would be the amount of pages that they actually read for that number of seconds.
Mark: Yeah, because my shortcut got to cheat the system mind was thinking, oh man, what you did to choose your own adventure, you could get them to go all over the book and…
Joe: Do you remember when I was talking about the Wild Wild West?
Joe: I mean that’s the kind of stuff that was going on. So they’ve spent a lot of time on perfecting and tweaking that algorithm.
Mark: You’re telling me that Amazon is smarter than me.
Joe: Well, I’m just saying you were…
Mike: Maybe they were not really paying attention and what people were doing was; so they actually have a cap now on how long the book can technically be. So even if a book is 100,000 pages Amazon will only count it up to 3,000 pages. So what people were doing was they’re really abusing the system, they will just fill these books with just the most random things and they would have these books that were so long and then they would have something like to win a free prize just click to the back and then boom, they would make 150 bucks.
Mike: That was part of the reason…
Joe: I got a lot of trouble for that.
Mike: Yeah. That was part of the reason why we walked away from it actually was because it was almost like if you think about professional sports, everyone is taking steroids so in order to even compete because page reads wards you in the algorithm so you’d have these random books in the best-selling things; this is way back in the day so we never did anything crazy like that but it just seemed too; it was between doing stuff like that or not doing stuff like that and we did it. We always thought it was risky to go crazy abusing the system like that so that was one of the reasons why we kind of took a little bit of a hiatus until things evened out.
Mark: Right. Okay, well before listeners wonder how far off track we’re going to go from our core type of topics here, this is fascinating, I could talk about this all day. I think this is interesting. You guys are building this publishing business with an eye towards someday potentially exiting as well. I’d like to get into some of the things that you guys are doing internally to maybe plan for that. What discussions have you had internally about that? And I’m hitting you out of left field on this. We didn’t prep for this before the call so understandably if you don’t have ready-made answers, that’s fine but have you guys discussed buildings up for sale and what sort of things have you done to maybe have an eye towards that potential exit someday?
Mike: So really, the main thing that we’ve done to kind of have it focused on exit is to focus on having that separate publishing site. So that way we’re really establishing ourselves as a brand. We’re not just getting income just from these royalties. We actually get affiliate commissions. We have visitors that come to the website and then buy the books. And so, yeah, it’s kind of we focused on what can we do off of Amazon like we kind of touched upon it’s good to do that for the algorithm and just for your own sake but it actually does help kind of diversify what we’re doing and make things a lot better when it comes down to selling it. I don’t know if you have any insight there.
Mark: So we have a very simple framework that we call the four pillars of value; it’s the risk of your business, the growth potential, the transferability, and the documentation. So building up a brand is key; it helps protect against the risk and it’s also aiding towards the transferability of the business, which is something that we would definitely encourage. Joe, were you going to say something on top of that?
Joe: Yeah, I was going to say as far as the documentation goes, because I feel maybe that’s what you’re asking. Maybe I’m wrong, but the documentation is not really complex at all. If we were to put together something for someone that we’re handing off the business to we would probably just give them; we have like an education course on this subject, but we would just give them that. But it’s really just not complicated at all. It’s not like handing off an e-commerce store to someone or even an Amazon affiliate site to someone that knows nothing about SEO or WordPress or something like that. When I say it’s simpler, it’s much, much simpler.
Mark: Right. Yeah, absolutely. It reminds me a lot of the ads on publishing days, but through a more established platform of Amazon and utilizing that program. It isn’t known much is my guess. Have you guys looked into; I know you’re working mainly in the fiction field, have you played around in nonfiction? Because when we first talked about this, my head sort of went to what if we were to leverage this along with our existing business and add it as a revenue stream there? Your paid on a number of pages read, I’m not sure if you can create cliffhangers at the end of a chapter of a business book so much like is this P&L going to get murdered in the next chapter? I don’t know. We’ll see. What have you guys done, if anything, in that realm of nonfiction books or have you played with it at all and have you thought about using it with an existing business; you have drop shipping businesses on what you’re your drop shipping but is there a potential play there, in your opinion?
Joe: Well, we have done nonfiction before. When I first started publishing kind of similar books online, it wasn’t Kindle, it was Create Space and it eventually merged, and Create Space became Kindle Paperback or whatever they call it. But at that time, I first started doing coloring books and we’ve done puzzle books and stuff like that. So I think that would be also classified as non-fiction. So I think there definitely is a play there to do that kind of stuff. And again, because that’s something you can also build a brand around in the paperback space and you wouldn’t approach it the same like we’re talking about now with the page read and stuff like that. You’ll have to put every book on Kindle Unlimited. It just really depends on the sector of books that you’re going after. But as far as what you’re saying I think it really is more of a; I guess any book on Amazon would probably be more B2C stuff. I can’t imagine a B2B play in this area. There are people that sell non-fiction B2B stuff, but I don’t know if it would be a great use of time for a company yours, for example. I don’t know. I don’t really think so.
Mike: What I would say is I wouldn’t recommend doing that for the purpose of making money on Kindle. But the point is that by publishing a Kindle book, you’re tapping into that audience and you’re tapping into the organic traffic already on Kindle. So you’re not going to make your money on page reads and you probably shouldn’t be focused on making your money on sales either. What you should be focused on is putting up a good book that way it’s almost like lead generation; the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, I believe, think about how many millions of dollars off of Amazon that probably makes him just by building up his name because it’s been an Amazon bestseller for who knows how long. So, yeah, when you’re doing a non-fiction book on Amazon for business or for something like that you need to keep in mind kind of the back end funnel and it should be more of a complement to your business rather than the business itself.
Mark: Right. Absolutely. And that’s kind of what I’m getting at, right? I mean, any sort of content marketing play, in general, is just that, right? We bring a lot of content on the Quiet Light Brokerage blog, we have a podcast, I don’t sell advertisements on the podcast even though we have a decent listenership. I don’t sell ads on or put ads on the blog or ad thrive or anything like that because that’s not the main goal. The goal is to build that audience. Although, if there was a way like with Kindle Unlimited it seems kind of a nice backdoor to make a little bit of money, I just don’t know what the payouts are on that. How many books do you think you need out of a portfolio to be able to turn decent amounts of money; more than just 30 bucks a day or so? I can’t imagine one book unless it’s top of Amazon is going to turn in that much money on Kindle Unlimited, I would imagine you need to have a portfolio of books.
Mike: Yeah. And I’d say we were kind of familiar with how to do things already because we were doing them in 2015 so we were able to start profiting really within a couple of months. And it does build but it’s a lot easier to scale as well because if you’re publishing one book a month and you want to do better, publish two books a month. So, yeah, it’s hard to say how much you’re going to make because it comes down to the execution of it. If you have a really good book that just takes off in the algorithm, if you do the Facebook ads right, and you can really have a pick-up steam then you can make a lot of more money off one book. And it also obviously depends on the length of it as well; so the term how much one customer can kind of give you off that one book. But, yeah, you’d be surprised honestly. Some books can take off and really, really do well. We’ve only been doing this kind of new way for two years I guess this month and we’ve really seen it grow quickly and it grows exponentially.
Joe: Yeah, and keep in mind that getting into the Kindle top 100 of all the Kindle store, which we have done; getting into top 100 is way different than getting into the top 1000. The top 1000 is still really good but once you break into the top 100, it just; like Mike said, the book would just take off in terms of page reads and everything. So that’s something else to consider, is that you have the slow and steady approach and maybe you never have anything that breaks in the top 100 but with the slow and steady approach as that back catalog builds, it doesn’t matter. So that is there is a variable there if the book takes off or not. Now, I think if you do it correctly, every book should do decent but like I said, top 1000, top 100, totally different ball games.
Mark: Joe, I asked you this when we talked a week ago or so, why share this information? I’m loving the discussion. I’m super entertained. Hopefully, people listening are entertained as well. What are you guys sharing this information for? It seems like you guys would want to be just kind of be like hey, don’t come in here. Don’t do it. I don’t want to compete against you.
Joe: Well, actually to be fully transparent we do sell a course on how to start a Kindle publishing business; Passive Publishing Profits. You check it at BuildAssetsOnline.com. But the other thing is the reason why we started doing education in the first place is the guy that told us to do it, he basically said it’s a great way to leverage your success. And we have a lot of different online businesses like we’ve talked about but the thing is, is we might not want to grow these businesses into billion-dollar companies because we enjoy the lifestyle. Me and Mike, we just work from home and we think that the courses are not so much a detriment, but a great compliment as well; teaching other people and getting paid for that. But you also have to keep in mind that especially with Kindle, we encourage our students that you’re not competing against one another, because like Mike mentioned earlier, there’s this factor of swaps and things like that. So these people who read fiction books, they are really, really avid readers and so if you’re partnering with other publishers like we encourage and like we do in our community, it’s a win-win for everyone. There’s no doubt about that. And taking that back to even selling education products in general, I mean, it’s been an amazing experience for us. I’m sure we’ve generated some competition for ourselves in some way but I think the amount of partnership we’ve made and things like that far, far outweigh the cons there.
Mark: Yeah, fascinating. Well, I’m always a fan of transparency. I mean, that’s the only way to do business and I appreciate that as well and it’s linked to really fascinating stuff. Guys, I know we’re up against the clock here. I’ve been talking for about 40 minutes; just a little bit more on that so is there anything else that you would like to cut around the discussion with anything that we didn’t cover that you’re like man, why hasn’t he asked this question?
Joe: I don’t feel that way. I think you did a good job of really trying to hammer in and have us explain ourselves.
Mark: Hey that definitely makes you my favorite guests. You said I did a great job.
Joe: Well, not every show does that, to be honest with you. I mean sometimes; I guess we feel leaving a little bit empty because we didn’t get asked the deep questions that force us to be on our toes. I definitely got that with this one.
Mark: Yeah, absolutely. Well, guys, I appreciate you reaching out. I appreciate you coming on here; really interesting stuff. I’d be lying if I said I’m not going to go on Amazon and take a look at the top 100 on Kindle and see what type of books are there. And there’s no time for me to jump on another project but that doesn’t mean that my entrepreneurial wandering eye isn’t going to spend a little bit time looking at that. So I appreciate you guys coming on. I really enjoyed the conversation.
Mike & Joe: Thank you, Mark.