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Brian Clark is Doing … What?
9th June 2016 • The Digital Entrepreneur • Rainmaker Digital LLC
00:00:00 00:25:53

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This may come as a shock, but Brian Clark is going to start publishing articles on a site other than the ones he owns. Find out where, his reasoning, and why this isn’t what you think it is.

In this 26-minute episode, Brian Clark and Jerod Morris discuss:

  • Brian’s decision to syndicate articles on Medium
  • Why this isn’t digital sharecropping
  • The single most important element of a smart syndication strategy
  • How to think about curation like an entrepreneur (not just a content creator)
  • What Brian thinks of the latest trend of sites (like The Ringer) being built entirely on Medium

Plus, Brian updates us on how his side projects — and Unemployable — are going.

And we talk about Brian’s recent interview with his hero, Henry Rollins.

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

The Show Notes

The Transcript

Brian Clark Is Doing What?

Voiceover: You are listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, a place to be for digital entrepreneurs.

DCI features an in-depth, on-going instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Digital Entrepreneur. This is episode No. 18 of The Digital Entrepreneur. I am your host, Jerod Morris, VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital.

Last week, Sonia Simone joined us to provide a little taste of her closing keynote at the upcoming Digital Commerce Summit, which takes place this October in Denver, Colorado, as we mentioned. You can get more details about the summit at Rainmaker.FM/Summit.

If you missed that episode with Sonia, make sure that you get caught up. It’s called Sonia Simone’s Secret to Starting the 1,000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle of Building a Successful Business. If you’re looking for some advice and inspiration about the mindset needed to be a successful entrepreneur from a trusted source, that episode is for you.

This week, another of the keynote speakers at Digital Commerce Summit is here as Brian Clark makes his triumphant return to The Digital Entrepreneur, fresh off his season-ending interview with Henry Rollins over at Unemployable, which really is a must listen for anyone who fancies himself or herself a digital entrepreneur. We will link to that in the show notes.

Brian, how was that interview with Henry? It was certainly great to listen to. It must have been a blast to be able to interview one of your heroes yet again.

Brian’s Recent Interview with His Hero, Henry Rollins

Brian Clark: Yeah, ‘yet again’ is the key phrase because I don’t get nervous, Jerod, and the first time I interviewed Rollins, I was a wreck. It didn’t really come across that way, so I held it together. But this time, he’s just such a cool guy, and you know that I drove him to Boulder after our event last year for his show that you went to as well, which was awesome.

Jerod Morris: Yeah it was.

Brian Clark: It’s not like I respect him any less, but he’s a guy. He’s a great guy. You just start to realize that fame can sometimes make people worse, but it certainly hasn’t done it to him. This time, it was just really a very relaxed conversation. I think it came through that way.

But you know Henry. You throw up something for him, and he’ll talk for 15 minutes on that and say things you couldn’t have imagined that you could have coaxed out of him. Then you just throw him another one, and he runs with it.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, and well, I loved how you mentioned being respectful of his time toward the end that you were going to cut it off, and he’s like, “No, no, no, I’m enjoying answering these questions. Ask me more. Keep going.” That was awesome.

Brian Clark: Yeah. I think Henry, understandably, doesn’t mind being recognized for how hard he works and all the things he’s done, not being with his hand held by management or whatever. Black Flag, they had to do it all themselves, and he just kept doing that.

You’ll notice the theme of that, which you hear from us a lot. Why we bootstrap and those type of things is because it’s freedom. He gets to do what he wants to do. He does this project in order to do the next project. That’s been a recurring theme over at Unemployable all season, which is really interesting to me because, again, that’s how I am. I just thought I was weird.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. Well, definitely check out that episode. You can check it out on the show notes for this episode or go to Rainmaker.FM and find it on the Unemployable page.

On this week’s episode here on The Digital Entrepreneur, Brian is here to update us on how his side projects Further and Unemployable are going and talk a little bit about what he’s learning, what his future plans are.

First, Brian, this is related, but you sent me an interesting email this morning. We were going back and forth about what to discuss on this week’s show. You said we could talk about “why I’m going to start publishing on Medium.” Immediately when I read that, bells started ringing. Let’s just into this right now. You, on Medium? What’s going on?

Brian’s Decision to Syndicate Articles on Medium

Brian Clark: It really is a function of trying out new things with my side projects. No risk, low impact. It doesn’t matter if it works or not, really, compared to the main business. But as you know and Chris Garrett knows, I’m one of the best sources of feedback for the Rainmaker Platform by using it. Often, you won’t find a CEO that actually uses the technology they sell.

We always have, and that’s very important to me, the user experience as a content producer, a curator but not an overly technical person. The more I can do by myself, the better, which is why, unless I just get really stuck, I don’t let any of you guys help me. Obviously, I’m in the podcast network, so for Unemployable, that really helps. But Chris Ducker and Jon also have those deals, too. I get treated like anyone else when it comes to that stuff.

Why This Isn’t Digital Sharecropping

Brian Clark: The whole idea of publishing on Medium is something I want to try. Now, the first thing that is popping in people’s heads, going, “Wait, wait, wait. You, the anti-digital sharecropper extraordinaire are going to go publish on someone else’s land?” No. I’m not going to blog on Medium. I’m going to syndicate on Medium.

What that means is, I’m going to take content that I’ve already created–for example, it could be some of the articles I’ve written for Further in the past. Actually, I know for sure a lot of the topics I covered on the Unemployable podcast, I’m going to take the transcripts, go back and review, and then turn it into an article.

We’ve talked about repurposing content over and over again over the years. Let’s take Unemployable, for example. My main goal with Unemployable, at this phase–I’m not selling anything yet–is the podcast and the curated email newsletter. Those are my assets. Those are my original things that I own, and that’s where I’m always pointing everything to.

But if I can repurpose content and put it on another platform, to me, it’s like guest posting–except there’s no requirement that it be original content. I’ve been watching Medium for a while, and there’s some really interesting aspects to it. I think you might have picked up on those as well.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I have because I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing with some of my side projects and the same, not publishing new content over there, but taking content that’s already been created and syndicating it over there.

It is. It’s interesting what they do with collections. It’s interesting what they do with their own curated newsletter because I get that. I get that in my inbox, and I find myself reading over there. There’s a lot of interesting content, interesting things going on there. It’s a good way, it seems, to get discovered.

When you look at people that are doing it right, you read their article, you get down to the end, and a lot of times, there’s a call to action to get on their newsletter or to go connect with them over on their site. That’s a very important part of any strategy like this. Like you said, it’s not publishing. It’s syndicating.

Brian Clark: Exactly. Now, if you’re a hardcore SEO-type person, you may not like it, but Google is getting much better at finding the original source anyway. If you just publish on your own site first, you can probably almost immediately go over and hit Medium.

But think about it this way. Again, if you were guest posting and a lot of people, from Leo over Zen Habits, Danny Iny did it when he started out, they just went on this massive guest-posting binges because you get access to someone else’s community, someone else’s audience.

That’s what Medium is right now. It’s built probably more effectively than a lot of other platforms in the sense that there is a community over there. It’s something like 650,000 people at this point. Not massive, but it’s interesting.

The mechanisms by which things prove to be popular is very much like a social network. It’s a social content platform. There’s a community there, and if you publish good content and it catches on, you get access to that community. And like you said, everything is pointing back to my site and, in particular, the assets that I’m trying to build at this point.

Here’s the kicker. When I got over there and was playing with it and I actually set up an account–got Unemployable as my log in, thank you

Jerod Morris: Nice.

Brian Clark: Then I realized that, because I logged in with Twitter, the founders of Twitter and Medium it’s not a Twitter company, but they’re the same guys. My largest audience is at Twitter for social media, and all of a sudden, everyone who follows me on Twitter that’s also on Medium prepopulated into my audience. I had an instant following of 24,000 people. That’s kind of cool.

Jerod Morris: That is kind of cool. It’s very cool. When it comes to your strategy over there, then, how will you decide or determine which posts to put over there, which posts to syndicate?

Identifying Which Posts to Syndicate

Brian Clark: That’s the fun of it really. Like I said, there’s a ton of audio content, and despite there being transcripts, it’s not really in that really digestible format that a good article might be. Some of those episodes you can make two articles out of, maybe three.

Quoting people I’ve interviewed–like Rollins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Annie Cushing–lot of great guests where you can take what they talked about, turn it into an article, quote them. That’s pretty cool. That’s one aspect of it.

The other thing is, like I mentioned with Further, taking some of the short curated summaries that I do as my lead, which is different from what I do with just more brief summary and link stuff over at Further, and publish some of that stuff and see what happens.

The first thing I’m trying and by the time this airs, I should know what happened. We may have to do a follow-up episode. But what I did was take some of my sources that I curate for Unemployable, and I created those classic attention-getting “The 22 Best Sites for Freelancers,” “The 10 Best Sites for Creative Entrepreneurs”–you get the idea.

When you think about it, that’s a perfect post. It has a good chance of being popular. Number two, you lead in and say something like, “Hey, I do the work for you with the Unemployable newsletter, curating the week’s best content, but I thought you might like to see some of my favorite sources.”

You’re promoting the newsletter in a very organic way, right there in the lead of the article, and people are like, “Yeah, these are some good sites, but why do I want to go surf all these sites every week. This guy’s going to do it for me.” So we’ll see how it works.

Jerod Morris: With both of those, with Further and Unemployable, you’re very much in the audience-building phase of those projects. For someone who’s listening to this who may be further along in one of those projects or look at us, for example, with the platform or with Digital Commerce Institute, if we were going to try and use Medium as part of that strategy, would you recommend …

Brian Clark: And if it works, we will.

Jerod Morris: Oh I’m sure. Is that something where you would recommend writing a post, writing a piece of content and then having a direct call to action at the end to go to a product? Or would you really more try and use it to build a list that would then pitch a product? How would you address that?

The Single Most Important Element of a Smart Syndication Strategy

Brian Clark: You know the answer to that. The only difference between what I’m doing now, say with Unemployable, which is a general list-building strategy versus a specific funnel that leads to an eventual offer. That’s the only difference in how I would use Medium. So when you have something to sell, you get more strategic about where you send people. Effectively, you’re always list building.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. So let’s talk about Further and Unemployable on a bigger scale because I know there have been a lot of questions. Every time we have a Q&A that you’re going to be on, people want to know more about how these are going.

Let’s maybe just talk about each one individually, maybe something important that you’ve learned, and what your plans are going forward. How would you assess that with Further so far?

Updates On How Brian’s Side Projects– and Unemployable–Are Going

Brian Clark: Further, I don’t really think about. It’s clearly got commercial potential down the road, but I don’t really worry about it so much. Unemployable is a good channel for both Digital Commerce Institute and the Rainmaker Platform, so I think more commercially about that project–although most of the time, I forget to even do it like a sponsor.

But the main thing is, I really enjoy curation. There’s an art to it, and I think it’s necessary–not because there’s so much great content that no one can find it, because there’s so much crap content that someone needs to weed through the click bait. People have actually gotten shy about clicking a great headline anymore because they’re worried that it’s just hype.

Why the Role of Curator Will Grow Even More Important

Brian Clark: The role of curators is going to become more and more important....





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