EP57: Andy Mai from Studying.com Talks Starting with Paid Traffic, Managing People and ecommerce - Domain Magnate

EP57: Andy Mai from Studying.com Talks Starting with Paid Traffic, Managing People and ecommerce

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This week, Michael speaks with Andy Mai. At 22 years old, Andy is the CEO & Founder of Studying.com, where he teaches people how to create an online business. He’s also a YouTuber.

Andy and Michael talk about starting with paid traffic, managing people, podcasting and ecommerce.

Check out Andy’s YouTube channel at http://Youtube.com/AndyMaiYT

Find Andy on LinkedIn at https://au.linkedin.com/in/andyqmai

Learn more about his business at http://Studying.com

To learn more about Domain Magnate and find additional resources to buy or sell an online business, visit https://domainmagnate.com

TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE:

Michael 0:04
On this episode, we are joined by Andy Mae, who is a prolific YouTuber, who is only 22 and historic his first business at 18 and grown the store to $250,000 in revenue, and then pivoted to education, he now operates studying.com, where he teaches people how to start an online business. Hi, Andy.

Andy 0:33
Thank you so much for having me, Mike, I really appreciate this chance to talk.

Unknown Speaker 0:40
So that’s pretty cool. You started your first us quite successful business at 18. I actually started myself when I was 19. So what was it like for you? Did you have some support from parents? Friends? What what initially drew you to start a business?

Unknown Speaker 1:01
So two parts, what support I had? To answer that first question was that first in drop shipping, I think I was failing every single day. And then like six months in, I was down $5,000. In how I got that $5,000 Was that was sort of my life saving when I was working as a swimming instructor when I was 18. And I was working at Kmart when I was 16. And when I was working at McDonald’s, when I was 14, I was able to save up like $8,000. So that’s sort of where I got the money to sort of started. What sort of catalyze the was, I think, just sort of like a need. For example, what got me into buying and selling clothing, I used to flip clothing, I used to go and buy supreme stuff, baby easy Yeezys. And all these things I buy low, sell at high. And I’ll sort of make the difference. And that started because when I went to school, all my friends had this cool backpacks and Nike shoes, and I couldn’t afford those things. So they triggered me to go ahead and get into that business. So I guess what got me into sort of doing the online drop shipping store was just sort of the need for money, I guess, coming from a low income family. So that was the main candidates.

Unknown Speaker 2:27
And it’s pretty cool. It was actually quite similar for me. So when I started first, I had about $2,000 to my name that I’ve that I’ve accumulated as a kid, mostly from getting some money on my birthday from parents, when I was like 1920. So I think I actually spent most of that initially on some course, on a couple of courses that I found, like courses or tools that promise to teach how to build successful online businesses. I was back in 2005. So there was not really that much to to go on. And they didn’t work. And I was very disappointed. And I thought, well, what am I going to do now. And I just kept researching kept trying things eventually, for like half a year a year, I started making some good money. But I remember that the initial path was both exciting and difficult. Because the landscape was there was just no knowledge available. You have to like, try to figure things out by yourself. Mostly. Now. It’s very different. Right? So you have many different courses available. You have you you have all the places where you can just go and find successful people and see what they’re doing and get some ideas. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 3:54
Most definitely in what was your first business model, Michael?

Unknown Speaker 3:59
Yeah, I was building affiliate sites. So I just, I was learning how to make money online. So my first website was about how to make money online later there. And I was just adding all these different affiliate programs. And the first money I made was for some commissions. And then I got into SEO and learn how to do SEO. And obviously in 2005, it was very different for what it is now was much easier. All Union had to do is add some content and then have a few sites and link all of them together. And that’s it. And then I learned how to like generate it on a bigger scale. So I had a few files and websites, mostly how to generate it with all kinds of content. And they were making some good money on AdSense until the until the Google update that that killed them.

Unknown Speaker 4:58
Did you have like a virtual systems to manage 1000 websites?

Unknown Speaker 5:05
Well, it was all automated. So I had had a programmer I was working with. But it took me quite the hiring and managing people was the hardest part. For me, figuring out the technology that I would have figured was much easier. It took me like five or 10 years of my business experience until I felt a bit more comfortable, like hiring a few more people. And only more recently, we had a bigger team. We had 20 people in the company last year, and most of this year as well. So it was quite a long learning curve for me in that sense. And how was it for you was hiring and managing people easier for you in the beginning,

Unknown Speaker 5:49
really, sort of, I think I just sort of my motto always been I just sort of sprinted into things and learn through mistakes. Like I remember hiring my first virtual assistant to help me with customer service and order fulfillment. And I was paying her say, three $4 an hour. She was from India. And she was constantly made mistakes. And I was constantly having to like correct her fix those mistake every single week. But I thought that was normal. The wage was really cheap, she was still saving me several hours every week. So I was like, maybe maybe spending 30 minutes per week to fix her work is worth the sort of cheap wage. But then eventually I sort of let her go, and I hired another VA. And that person was much better every time I would protect them. They would learn from the mistake. Yes, those are more obvious mistakes. I had to fix Bally’s, when I told her the solutions, it wouldn’t happen again. And I thought that was the law. Then I fired her and I hired another virtual system. This time the person was perfect. Like all that she had the experience, the wage was the exact same. She had barely any mistakes. And she was autonomous. And I was like, wow. And that’s sort of been the exact same process. When I hired my first project manager, my first sort of sales manager, I would have to hire many, many people. And each time I would hire the next person for the exact same role and let the previous person go for whatever reason, I’d be shocked at how much better that person is. And I thought that was the limit. So that’s sort of how I’ve sort of learned how to hire and every time I hire for a new role. It’s super intimidating, because I know that the first two or three hires, there’s a high chance they’re not going to be the person you’ll stick with long term. And I know that a file is gonna come by just have to accept it. So yeah,

Unknown Speaker 7:54
that’s pretty interesting. It’s very similar to my experience. So for quite a few years, I was working with this programmer from, from Eastern Europe. And I paid him about 500 to $1,000 per month for part time. And he was fixing sub sites, and like changing some things in different WordPress blogs, or designing some scripts. And I remember every time I would give a project, I usually set some deadline, and I would check, well, how long do you think it would take to make it he’s, he’d say, like, oh, like one day, two days. So I said, Okay, let’s make it like five days. And he said, Okay, sure. I’ll get it done in five days. And then five days comes, it’s not done. I asked him, he hadn’t started yet. But he’s gonna do it tomorrow. And then of course, it’s not done tomorrow. It’s not done the day later. And it takes maybe a couple of weeks more to get it completed. And it just kept repeating and repeating. And I thought, well, that’s maybe that’s just normal, because I’ve never had a job before, I don’t know how it works. I didn’t really have anyone to ask, I assume that that’s probably just normal. That’s probably how it works. Like people say, people are not very good at estimating their time. So I just have to take that into account. So So from now on, I just assumed that, okay, if I give him a task, if I give some kind of deadline, it’s going to take like two or three times longer. And then after, after a while, I started working with another programmer, and he was actually competent. Like he would say this is going to take one week to complete and he would complete it in one week. And I was just shocked initially, I was like, wow, so people can actually do what they say. And yeah, it was it was it was sort of like that the same with like writers and other things. So it was a gradual process of kind of understanding how it works through experience. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 9:48
based on that sort of track record of mine. Like I have to assume that my current team, that there’s a better version of me exact same right? Out there, and I can’t be sort of satisfied right now I’m really happy with my team, my team is amazing. But I know for a fact that for every single member, there’s probably someone that can do the job much better for the same rate, that’s much more experience. But obviously, that sort of web building culture comes into play and where like, you’re not just focused on hiring the best person out there, they are sort of looking for those team players as Pete those players who would show up to the Halloween company’s zoom event and dress up those people that would sort of always offer a helping hand those people that would always offer to be like, hey, I want to go ahead and, and help organize the end of year zoom party. And that is much more important than skill. And I’m slowly trying to figure out the culture aspect of a company at the moment as well.

Unknown Speaker 10:58
Yeah, I did that for a bit. And then I came to the conclusion, that’s just way too difficult. So I decided to just focus on scale. Um, and, and eventually, I came to the conclusion that it’s best to just hire people who are really, really skilled at what they’re doing. And then set up a structure with that incentivizes them really, really well to perform so that way, incentives are very aligned. And I’ve done that mistake many times where the incentives are just misaligned. And often I try to, you know, higher level, people with more responsibilities, the compensation comes often from some bonuses that are based on performance. So that’s what, that’s what we are focusing on right now. So for example, for different businesses, the managers that manage our portfolio of businesses were often incentivized as a as a percentage of business profit. So that way, we know it’s aligned. And, and that’s easy. And then of course, there are some assistants who are just kind of doing some simple tasks as well.

Unknown Speaker 12:08
Interesting, simple things, such as, say, my head developer, or the person that’s managing my YouTube channel, or the person that’s doing the weekly email blast, the copywriter. Do those roles? Should I add in an incentive? Or should they extend it we say for like, operational manager?

Unknown Speaker 12:31
Well, I think the best approach I found, is really are going as a mix of skill. And we’ll so skill is obviously looking at the role. And then asking, Okay, what are the exact set of skills that this person needs to have? And then, obviously, you find a person that has those skills? But then the other part is understanding the real, how do you motivate the person, some people are motivated by money? And there is all kinds of different ways to measure that, right? Like there is different tests that you can have people do aptitude test, and professional tests and so on. And some people are motivated by money, somebody recognition, others by just knowing that they contribute, they do something well. So there is a lot of different ways. And then if you understand what motivates specific person you can you can kind of do that. Or there is there is also an easy so this is a bit more complex, but lazy way is yeah, just aligning incentives. So what I would probably try to do is, if a person is managing your YouTube channel, like what is the one metric that’s most important as its subscribers, the views, and then you just say, hey, from now on, like your conversation is going to aligned in some way, let’s see how your compensation comes from bonus, which is based upon performance. But that’s not something that’s gonna fit for everyone, right? So there are some some people, some employees that just want the stability and safety of having a fixed salary. So for those people, that might not work, but for those who are a bit more ambitious and curious and kind of when the grow, that often works, well. That’s fine.

Unknown Speaker 14:19
And then, as the CEO, do, you still have to sort of individually do that with everyone. So for example, for me, I find that to really motivate my employees, I’ll jump on these one on one cause of them, where we sort of do a future pace, figure out their goals, break down their goals and build them a roadmap to their goal, and they’re super happy now they’re motivated for the next six months. So I have to sort of plan out their goals and figure out what their goals actually are. Now I’m thinking okay, could I find some HR person To do that, on my behalf? What’s your thoughts on that?

Unknown Speaker 15:05
Question? Yeah, then it’s very good that you’re doing that, it can be really time consuming. Um, you could definitely find an HR person, but it’s very difficult. Because you’d have to train the HR personnel, you’d have to make sure that they’re also aligned with like your plan. And what I found is HR people, they usually come if a set if a preset kind of beliefs and expectations from different places were worked out. So you want to find the one that would implement in the way that you wanted implemented? Oh, yeah, that’s, that’s honestly not my main area of expertise. But I My, my, my main objective, when it comes to management right now is just keeping things very simple. Like, reducing the amount of time I spent on that, because I’ve learned through mostly for a lot of mistakes, that managing people is just not my strong suit. And that’s definitely something I want to grow a bit more. But that’s just not something I should be doing, like as my main kind of thing. So I try to reduce amount, things I do in that area. But if you feel that you enjoy that, and you like that, then definitely, by all means, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 16:34
And do you have like a partner that you started this whole thing with that can take on that sort of responsibility of management? Or have you hired a manager? How have you been able to reduce your management time?

Unknown Speaker 16:50
Yeah, I don’t have a partner like that. I have I had hired different managers have different interests. But also right now we have, we have our we have portfolio managers, we have business managers, and they usually manage their systems. So it’s their job to do like, manage the systems, give them tasks, talk to them, like and do all that stuff that you mentioned. And I just like review the managers occasionally. Now, the downside of that, of course, is to pay a lot more than what you would pay like an assistant. And it’s not like double triple. It’s much, much more usually. But I mean, it’s, I figured it’s worth it for me. But it’s also depends on the business. Yeah. So if you are in the commerce business, where there is a lot of a large volume of maybe lower skilled work, that’s one thing for us, we don’t have a lot of that. So for Ross, what we need is very high level of skill, we need people who understand growing businesses, who know what kind of things need to be done. So for us, it really pays to hire smart people have very experienced this.

Unknown Speaker 18:07
God, so I guess it’s different. If you have like, say, folks, sambia acquired eight companies recently, and this eight managers, and you probably have even more managers, I just on meetings of managers on Hey,

Unknown Speaker 18:24
no, well, we don’t have that many managers, usually managers manage several businesses, kind of depending on size. But the meetings I do, like once, once a week, once every couple weeks, and also more specifically. Like usually we have some frameworks we work with for each business. So we would have you would have some objectives for the month of the quarter for the year, you would have some plans. And then there is some reporting structure, the managers can fill out some brief reports so that I can see things on track. So I find that generally I try to reduce the amount of meetings as much as possible. Like I would ask myself, can it be done with the document or with a message then there is no need for a meeting? That’s been my approach. And but but you have, so you have 25 employees that studying that calm right now, is that right? Correct. And where are most of them based? Is it all remote?

Unknown Speaker 19:30
Or,

Unknown Speaker 19:31
and are there like some managers as well?

Unknown Speaker 19:35
They would be we have like the project manager. The recruiting team is just two people. There’s like charm. She’s like the head of recruitment. You have like some managers one or two editors for the YouTube team. So that’s another manager, have a sales manager. And then everyone is sort of like a one man army. We have one person for SEO, one person For the copywriting email marketing, one person for sort of designer, we have a development manager or the development teams only to developers. So that’s sort of a gist of it, we don’t have I guess the project manager would be the like the only real manager managing, like 10 people underneath. But other than that we have small managers that have two or three people underneath them.

Unknown Speaker 20:26
Very cool. So studying that calm, how did you get the idea to really move from from Commerce to teaching and what is the objective for studying at home.

Unknown Speaker 20:42
So initially, when I first sort of figured out drop shipping, I saw just providing free content on YouTube for free. I think the goal was one, I saw that there was a huge space in the education and core selling at that time. And two, I just really like the idea of growing a personal brand, maybe I watch too much Gary Vee or something, I really wanted to grow a personal brand. And then when I got into that space, I did a lot of one on one consulting, that shifted to group consulting, that shifted to selling a program. And then that also stuck at that level for some time. And then only recently have I slowly pivoted to building my own sort of membership portal or my own education platform, building the foundations to allow other people to start selling their own programs on my platform. And that came from like a need, like I was posting my course on Kajabi Click Funnels. But there was a bunch of features that they didn’t offer, like I couldn’t create layer courses are like three or four layers deep. Like I went week 123456789 $10 layer one, layer two was in week one, I want to like say a bunch of topics on mindset, like affirmation booklets, daily routine. What else do we teach? Auto Finance tracker. In each one of those section will be like, alright, here is how to do affirmations. He’s five examples, his middle with five different students from all over the world. So that’s sort of how I laid out my course. And none of the educational platforms allowed me to do that. I sort of got it to work on Click Funnels, where I was able to just stack videos on top of each other. So I wanted to just build my own thing. Another feature I wanted was I wanted the ability to have students level up watch get XP when they watch videos, and surprising that has done really well like I thought adults would not care about watching videos to level up that I was wrong. And I also wanted to I wanted the function of having all the students be able to communicate within the portal. Now at the time I was using Skype and click funnels. So it was just not efficient. And that’s sort of what pushed me to create my own platform. Why I made it one platform. I was like, Okay, this is something that has more perfect more potential than I thought.

Unknown Speaker 23:20
That’s very cool. And so people who come to studying that calm who is the ideal customer would it be someone who just wants to learn how to make money online how to quit the job.

Unknown Speaker 23:34
So right now I’m signed up on designing my program on Earth. And my program is you know, we call it the break the cycle experience, basically, so teach people from A to Z, how to build their own online business from scratch, how to get into dropshipping get into E commerce, and I do a total customer would be people that are stuck in a nine to five they don’t like someone that has tried to build an online store but it just hasn’t worked and that ties your customer

Unknown Speaker 24:08
very good. And what what are some success stories you have already? Have you had some people that have been able to to earn enough income to quit their job from that?

Unknown Speaker 24:22
So if you get a stream.com forward slash reviews, right now we have 40 plus video testimonials. So I think a lot of people can have a bunch of screenshot and text testimonials but we’ve just been focusing on getting real life personal video testimonials. One of our goals was like I wanted 1000 success stories. That’s still one of my goals. And I think we probably have four or five success stories that they ended up becoming their own their own Guru and now they’re becoming teachers and teaching other people how to do the same thing. So we’ve had to step down One of my students Tremaine Turner, he has his own YouTube channel now that we got him to $1.1 million in revenue in three months was crazy. Another student was awesome. I think we scaled him to like 100k in 30 days. There’s another step, Andrew Wright is now doing affiliate marketing. He sort of, he started with drop shipping, got some results and is pivoted to affiliate marketing. I mean, I think he’s doing like 100k days through like clickbank affiliate marketing. Some looks like a lot of my top students, they sort of ended up doing too much, much better than me, when I was personally doing sort of drop shipping. And they use the exact same strategies that they just had, I guess their products were just much, much better. And a lot of luck is involved. But they’ve done really well using the same strategies that I’ve used.

Unknown Speaker 25:53
Very cool. And how many students have you had already? How many students do have now for studying that come?

Unknown Speaker 26:01
last four years, I’ve probably enrolled and sort of work with maybe 400 students. That’s

Unknown Speaker 26:08
really cool. And I’d love to go in more detail. So what do people actually learn there? What are some different categories or courses? Like what are the knowledge that they expect to, to acquire?

Unknown Speaker 26:23
So week one, the first thing we start with is mindset, we’ve realized that mindsets, probably the most important thing to get this to work, then we go to product research, how to build your store, how to go ahead and run Facebook ads, how to read and analyze and understand that data, how to kill in scale, your ads, order fulfillment, customer service. And then if you sort of get more in depth, we teach you how to hire virtual assistants, how to use look alike, audience manual bidding all these difficult strategies on Facebook, how to scale to other advertising platforms use Google AdWords. So that’s sort of like a G stop the program from A to Z.

Unknown Speaker 27:10
And very cool. And all of them go to do some some Shopify commerce or drop shipping stores? Or do you also have people who focus on on affiliate or other businesses?

Unknown Speaker 27:25
So our main clientele is people who do Shopify e commerce. We do have a small affiliate marketing program, and I’ve helped a few students with affiliate marketing. But that hasn’t been a big part of the business so far.

Unknown Speaker 27:42
Cool. So that’s interesting because on on Episode 52, so we spoke with Ricky from income school who does something very similar. And what they are doing is they teach people how to build a personal blog and promote it and go from from zero to as well to making enough money to quit their job. But they focus specifically on on blogging, SEO and like YouTube and different channels as well, but not not a commerce. So I’m very curious if to compare that somehow. Like what actually allows people to go and make a living faster if it’s for for blogging, or for doing some some ecommerce what what do you think?

Unknown Speaker 28:34
Oh, would you know, like the journey for blog? Like, do you have to post the law and then I get paid like a CPM basis where it’s like $10 per CPM on organic traffic? And if that’s the case, that’s going to take really long, I think,

Unknown Speaker 28:53
actually, yeah, the interesting thing is he has the entire journey mapped out in the income school for something like 18 months, because the plan is to really build a solid assets that that keeps growing. And so initially, there is some maybe half a year or a year or something to get to a point where you’re making like a few $100 or $1,000, it can take a while. But then the benefit of that is once you get to a point where you have an established blog established site, it takes a lot less domain, and it has a lot of value. So you can always sell it as well. But it certainly takes quite a lot of effort over like two years, more or less to get to a point where you’re making good revenue that you can potentially replace your income with the method

Unknown Speaker 29:41
yet because make might have an SEO guide that’s been grown the SEM starting.com We only acquired the domain last year, so it’s been sort of a bit under 12 months, and I only went deep into SEO the last six months. But we went from zero to like 10 organic traffic a day 2030. And that’s and we’ve been posting like detailed blogs every second or third day. So, so seems really, really hard to make money off blogs. But I may be wrong. So I guess I’m and I am a bit biased towards e commerce.

 

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