Pete McPherson & I immediately connected on our journey away from “The American Dream” and that’s why I’m so excited for you to listen in today.
Pete is the founder of Do You Even Blog? An award-winning blog, podcast, and YouTube channel dedicated to helping creators build impactful and profitable online businesses.
Upon meeting Pete, I immediately resonated with his journey out of corporate and his struggle to make his side-hustle succeed. We both gave up the idea that we were supposed to get day-jobs, work our way up, and make a lot of money — with the price being all of our freedom.
Today, we’re going to talk about Pete’s struggles, failures, and everything he overcame in order to finally find success in this industry and how others can do the same. Let’s get into it!
Pete and I talk about:
- Pete’s journey from being a CPA/Accountant to a full-time podcaster and blogger
- How Pete’s road to success came from trying again and again…and again
- Pete’s effective advice on growing your email list
- The important question you should ask yourself about your dream business
- Pete’s advice for those struggling to get traction in their side hustle
- The belief Pete had to change about himself to get where he is today
My favorite quotes from Pete:
- “It's not the fancy website. It's not the fancy microphones that we paid $400 for. It's not the super complicated outreach pitch emails that we scripted word for word it's us being humans, building real relationships and having experience. You have to have that part experience to understand your audience and your offer”
- “something that I think really only comes from experience and launching products and failing, trying to sell services and failing, trying to grow a blog, traffic downloads, email lists and failing is enough experience to get clarity.”
- “Keep an open mind and always keep an eye out for what is working in addition to the like, okay, that didn't work. Why not? Or that didn't work time for the next thing.”
- “There is no one path for everyone. There's just not, there might be some that are fairly similar, but it's not exactly the same. And so it takes time to figure out your path.”
Shannon Mattern: Pete. Thank you so much for being here on pep talks for side hustlers. Can you share a little bit more with our listeners about you and what you do?
Pete McPherson: Absolutely. I love talking about myself. No, but first thank you Shannon so much for having me. I appreciate you having me on, so I'll give you the 32nd version first. And then if you want to hear the full story, it's pretty good story. I've done a few interesting things. So at the moment, I'm a full time podcaster and blogger and utuber over at, do you even blog? Oh, I'm actually, no one can see me, but I'm wearing my shirt right now. It says, do you have a blog? And yeah, I have a lovely wife, got two kids. This is my full time job. And has been since mid 2017. When I left my corporate career behind, I used to be an accountant and CPA. It wasn't that I just like, Oh, I suddenly made a billion dollars. I'm going to quit my full time job. It started blogging podcasts all the time. It wasn't exactly like that, but that's, that's the broad just overview of, you know what I'm doing right now.
Shannon Mattern: I love the name D even blog. Like, do you even blog? I love it. So I do want to get here. I love hearing people's, um, origin stories of how, you know, cause I also, I say like I escaped corporate where I left a corporate job that I did not feel like I was, I was meant for, to, to do what I do. And I love to hear that story of like, what was that moment for you where you decided I don't want to be in corporate. I don't want to do this anymore. And I want to do something different. What was, what was that like for you?
Pete McPherson: Uh, you know what? I actually had that moment, like time and time again, but I never actually did anything about it. So the it's funny. I was just actually writing this the other day. It's funny when you try and like write your own story, part of you is like, I'm, I'm just thinking like a regular person. Like I'm nobody, I haven't actually done anything, all that greater interesting. Then actually write out your story and it's like, Oh, there's, there might be some interesting things here. So my origin is all the way back in 2009, I believe some friends of mine from college. I was in grad school. I was living back with my parents after my undergrad degree, I had entirely too much time on my hands. And so these friends of mine, they were like, Hey, will you help us start a podcast? And I'm like, what's podcasts.
Pete McPherson: I don't know. That sounds like fun. I meant let's do it. So I go down, this is, I'm not joking. By the way, I actually go down to the store and buy a podcasting for dummies book. Like you remember the old for dummies books? Well, I bought one of those and being the nerd that I am, I read it cover to cover. No one does that. That's so silly. And so I helped my two friends start this sports podcast. I don't even watch that many sports to be completely honest with you. And I was supposed to like, co-host it with them? And long story short, it was terrible. It was bad. But it just like, you know, built up a little interest there, like a little hobby eventually that stopped. Thank goodness. Cause it was, it was really bad. People could still go look at it.
Pete McPherson: It's really bad. And I got my degree and I talked about being an accountant. I got my degree in 2012 studied and took the CPA exam. You know, I got my first like big grownup job paying $52,000 a year. Hallelujah. More money. Yeah. More money than I've ever seen in my entire life. And there we go. I am now like starting the American dream. I marry my current wife, which is lovely. I still like that part of the American dream, by the way I got, I bought a new car by the way, with debt. And then I get a mortgage with debt and it's totally like spending that 50 to large a year. And well, what do you know? Not very happy with it. Accounting is not very fulfilling. I'm good at it. It's fine. I love my coworkers. I eventually took a little bit better accounting job and it was fine.
Pete McPherson: I was good at it. I love my coworkers, but again, just like commuting a few hours each day in traffic wearing business casual, which again, you can't see me, but I am literally like in just a tee shirt and shorts. And that's what I wear like every single day of my life. That's like who I am. And so just wasn't happy there. Wasn't happy there. Just like you said. And I think, Oh, one more thing I forgot to mention since I started that very first podcast over the years, I started blog after blog, after blog, most of which were terrible. A few made a few dollars here and there, but most of which were like bad over 50. I don't know how many amount now over 55 blogs and on my businesses over the past decade or so. So there was a lot there. I dabbled a lot, lots of shiny object syndrome.
Pete McPherson: I gave up at the first sign that like, Oh, this blog is not working. I can't figure out how to drive traffic here. I don't know how to make money from this. Let's try this other thing. Shiny object side hustle after side hustle of your side hustle. So that's going on in the background and in 2016, I eventually like kinda figured out I've had enough of this, like a whole accounting thing. It's fine. I'm not even happy with like the money I'm making. I just want to do side hustles, full time hustles, full time, side hustles. That's what I wanna do. And so I took a job at a startup who shall remain nameless for reasons. I'm about to share, take a job at a startup that was going to pay me like a salary and a benefits, but only work part time. So I'm like celebrating.
Pete McPherson: I like this, honey, sweetheart. I have to take this job. This is awesome. I'm gonna work 20 hours a week. I'm going to blog 20 hours a week. I'm going to like start a side business, you know, make that happen. But we're still going to have the salary benefits. And she was like, great. I love it. Let's do it. By the way we have two kids, we sell our house. We move. This is back in my hometown, Rome, Georgia, down South. And we, I take this job. It's great. And it's glorious. And I get my first paycheck and this is awesome. And I'm starting to think about blogs. And then I got laid off from a startup who basically said like, we love you, but we have $0 to pay you. So you're welcome to keep working, but we can't make any money. So at that point, uh, after moving my family of four into my grandmother's vacated house, she didn't live there.
Pete McPherson: She lived in a nursing home, but living in my grandmother's house, no job, my wife quit her job by the way. So now we have zero jobs. Like I don't know what we're going to do. So we shed a few tears, probably a lot of tears. If I'm being honest, had someone talk that over for a few weeks, we had like a little bit of an emergency fund at this point. And we opted not to go back to work. Like I'd had to move to like Atlanta or, you know, New York or Chicago or Detroit or Houston or some big city, which we didn't really want. We opted not to do that. And I decided, you know what, let's just give this full time side hustle, a try. And now I don't know what the proverbial phrase is, burned your bridges or like set fire to your shifts.
Pete McPherson: You know that, you know, that phrase, like I abandoned all other alternatives. I had to make this work. And I tried a little bit of like a small town marketing agency just to like get money fast. Cause I needed it. You know, feed my two kids. I got one or two clients. I hated it. And at this point I decided to reach out to some friends of mines who were blockers that I met over the years. So much. You probably have heard of, uh, like Michelle Schroeder and Bobby Hoyt and Neil Patel and Nick Loper. And like some of these other people. And I'm literally just like emailing them, asking like, Hey please, can I ask you some questions about how you make money? Like I have to figure this out, help me make money blogging. Like I can't figure it out. And so I was like, please just Skype with me, Skype with me.
Pete McPherson: And I recorded them thankfully. And after I got done with like one or two of these like Skype calls with bloggers, literally just asking them question for my own benefit. I was like, wow, that's kind of fun. I enjoyed that. Maybe I should like put these out in podcast format and truth be told that was, do you even blog? That was three years ago almost to the day, by the way, five days from now, it'll be three years. Exactly. And it grew, it started to resonate a little bit. I was able to figure it out how to monetize it slowly but surely it's grown and here I am today,
Shannon Mattern: Such a good story. I've like just nodding along with everything. Cause I'm like, yep, that's me. Yep. That's me. Yep. That's me. Yep. That's me except for no accounting degree, but just, you know, everything that you described of, you know, the path that we take, you know, because we think we're supposed to, or that's, you know, the American dream. That's what our parents told us that, you know, here's what you do. And you find yourself, you know, in debt live, be been working this job that you don't enjoy, you know, being a person, being a totally different person from nine to five, then you are, you know, outside of your, outside of your day job. And, and I just think, you know, one of the things that just kind of stuck out to me, you know, throughout this whole thing, you're, you're dabbling, you're trying all these things.
Shannon Mattern: You're having a lot of failures learning from everything and it's all setting you up. Um, you know, for, for the next thing that's that actually did finally work. And I was just like, you I'm like shiny object, shiny object. Let me try this, let me try that. Like, you know, and giving up on things way too fast and you know, all, all of that. Um, and I finally figured out the thing, the thing that worked for me. So I think it's just fascinating that, um, you know, that it really all kind of, it takes a lot of time. Some people hit the thing that they do right off the bat. Right. But some of us, we have to try a lot of different people. Yeah. I know. Right. Why don't they just come out of nowhere? You know? No, but so I wanted to, and I also love having people on a podcast so I can pick their brains about what worked for you. So what are some of those things that, you know, in those first few interviews that you did that you realized, Oh, these are the game changers for me and kind of put you on the path to where you are right now.
Pete McPherson: Hmm. Okay. So apologies in advance. I have a good answer to this, but a lot of people hear this, especially people who have listened to not only your podcast, but have been around the, the blogosphere quote, unquote, they've heard this advice before something I can to follow your passion now, before people like freak out and be like, Oh my God really, that's what we're gonna talk about right now. Let me give you some context. So all of those 50 plus blogs and online businesses, I started part of my shiny object syndrome problem was that I actually enjoyed the process of marketing more than I enjoyed the topic. Like I had a personal finance blog for a few years. That was like my longest running thing back in, uh, I don't know, like five or six years ago. And I was into personal finance. I still am like, I'm into it, but I'm still like more intrigued by video and webinars and funnels and SEO traffic.
Pete McPherson: And I was like interested in stuff, but, and there's a big, but I never allow myself to talk about it. Cause I'm like, there's, there's enough Shannon's of the world. There's enough Pat Flynn's of the world. There's enough. Amy Porterfield, Marie Forleo, John Lee, Dumas's Tim fare. I don't care who you are. They're like, there's enough of those people. I don't have what it takes to jump in that crowded niche or whatever. Right. That was my passion through 50 plus blogs and the businesses. It didn't allow myself to come in. And so, and when I got fired from my job or laid off, excuse me, not fired, laid off to be fair. When that happened, I was like, I'm just, I just gotta do this. Like, I'm just going to do that. This was like, after interviewing those like first couple of bloggers I talked about, I was like, I could do this.
Pete McPherson: I could do do even blog. I could talk about blogging and podcasting and snail mailing and making money from a business. That's what I care about. You know, what, screw it. I'm doing it. And jumping in now, going back to the super corny, like Pete's about to give you a motivational speech on follow your passion. That was the only way that I persisted through the crappy parts. And believe me, there have been, you know, parts where like one of my claims to fame is that I made like a pretty decent amount of money, like upfront, like the first couple of months. So do you and blog at sponsors? I launched my first product to like 200 people in the email list. I made like $2,500. I was like, Oh, this is awesome. It's going to work well even the year after that, I had like huge ups and downs plate times.
Pete McPherson: Not only when I wanted to quit, but I was like, yeah, this is dumb. I should've gone back to accounting and my interest for it slash passion. Again, I hesitate to use that word was the only thing that allowed me to persist to the crappy parts. If I'm being honest and actually keep working on it long enough to grow. So I know that's like a little bit corny, a little bit. We will, but for me personally, that made the difference between more shiny objects, more quitting and starting new things and persisting long enough to give it a chance.
Shannon Mattern: I think, I don't think it's corny and I don't think it's, I think it is, it is the thing like you have to be, it has to intrigue you so much that you are willing to just keep figuring it out and keep going after it. And, and, and I totally agree with you. It's it's I can resonate with so much with what you said, like, you know, it's like, Oh, there are enough Pete's in the world. Amy Porterfield, Pat, like Pat Flynn, like there are so many people doing what I'm doing, but like you bring a different perspective to it. You bring your unique set of circumstances to it. You bring your unique experience, your unique viewpoint. And I always tell people, people learn like to learn from more than one person I learned from all of those people that you just named, not just one to the exclusion of all of the others.
Shannon Mattern: And I think that that's something that, um, that people need to keep in mind, but I just, I think I don't find it corny. I do think it's, it's, it's what keeps you continuing on. But I do think at some point, like you do have to put aside the jumping from thing to thing to thing and go all in, at least I know that that was, that was true for me. Yeah. Um, so, uh, I guess back to just your story of how you monetize so quickly, like what, what made you just, or what made you like decide to make that offer? What was the, what was the first offer that you made from, from your product?
Pete McPherson: I'll be completely honest with you. I offered the product cause I needed to make money. And I told people that to be fair, I, you know, I've written about it on the blog before. I'm not trying to hide that at all. That was the main goal. I was like, well, if this is going to work full time, blogging and podcasting, like it has to make money. And I can't really wait three years. Like I gotta, I gotta supplement with some freelance income, which I fully stand behind. By the way you had Angie on your podcast. Earliest, I don't know when this is going live, but I listened to that episode. And she was like, yeah, I don't have time to grow the massive audience. And then lodge the $47 eBooks and still make like $30,000. Like anybody got time for that anymore. You have to go with services, freelance stuff. And for me, the first product was, it was still technically like a digital product, but it was like a little bit more service oriented. It was a 30 day challenge, but it was like a little bit more engagement or whatnot. I'll also tell you that it was terrible.
Shannon Mattern: All of our first products, terrible. I don't know,
Pete McPherson: Creators who have already found the success or whatnot, but mine was pretty bad. So it was honestly motivated out of a need to prove the business and to put food on my table. That'd be completely honest. So I, I had a small, small following at that point. The first couple of months, I'd actually grown a lot faster than all of my blogs, for sure. So, like I said, I think I had like 200 to 300 people on that email list. So my mindset was how can I prove the business model and by business model, I just mean prove that I can make something teaching digital marketing. And at the time it was mostly blogging. I need to prove that I can at least get like one sale out of these like two, 300 people. Um, that was a large part of it too. And so I wanted something that would be like pretty low investment. Like I didn't record the videos upfront for like a course. I didn't, I didn't make a product at all. I did an outline of what we were going to do together in this 30 day challenge. And then I launched it like the whole like validation thing that a lot of people talk about the prelaunch strategy. That was a lot of my philosophy there. I just had to prove that it works. And if I'm being honest, I was just trying to, I had to make money as well.
Shannon Mattern: They all have to make money. I mean, not, I guess not everybody does, but I mean, that's why we're doing this right. You know, we, we need to, we want to, um, you know, have be able to pay, pay the bills, put food on the table. Like, you know, I think that that's, that's part of, part of all of, but, um, yeah, that, no, that did, that did answer my question. You know, that you, um, pre-validated this, um, this products before actually, um, making the thing, which, which I did not do that when I first started, I was like, Oh, I know exactly what they need. I know. And I'm gonna spend three weeks locked in my bedroom, recording this thing. And you know, I had built up a list too, and I knew exactly what they needed and I made that offer and nobody bought it.
Shannon Mattern: And it's so fascinating. Cause it's pretty much the same thing I sell now. I just didn't know how to talk about it. Cause I didn't like give, you know, give enough time to figuring out like, Oh, here's how they talk about it. But how I talk about it is like in completely like jargony terms that nobody's Oh yeah. I totally learned that the hard way. Um, one of the things that I know I'm curious about, and my listeners are curious about too, is how did you build that list for the first two or 300 subscribers? You know, I see a lot of my people struggle. Like I have this thing and I have no idea how to even get this, you know, even get started. So, so what were some of those very early things that you did to get some email list subscribers?
Pete McPherson: Oh, well do you remember? I mentioned the proverbial ships that I set fire to or the bridges that I burned and I kind of did not have any other options. So I like you to your pockets. And I've heard you say this. I find it excruciating to ask people for things like sending a pitch email or an outreach email. I I'm like, no, no I'm going to watch Netflix. Like I can't do this. This makes me too nervous, but where the proverbial ships burned. I, again, I had no choice, but to like figure out what works. And so my honest to goodness strategy for the email subscribers specifically was to send, I was going to say, send outreach emails that says, that sounds really fancy email, text call and Facebook message. My friends and family know, Oh, not all those people are directly in my audience.
Pete McPherson: I stole this, by the way, I didn't make this up. I stole this from Brian Harris from yeah. Yeah. Formerly known as video fruit, whatever his business name is. Now, he used to teach us a lot. He was like, you want a hundred email subscribers, like your very first a hundred send outreach emails or Facebook messages or text your friends and ask them some of those people. And to be very clear, don't be like, Hey, I heard you were into dog grooming. So you know, you should come join my doctor, me email us. No, that's not what it's for. She was like, Hey, I'm starting this new thing. Please come help support me. You know, you don't have to beg quite that much, but that's pretty much what I did for the first, at least 150 people. There were friends, they were college roommates, they were extended family or whatnot.
Pete McPherson: And I swear, that was over three years ago, I still get replies from my email list, uh, which is thankfully much larger now from those original people. I still, their friends and family that have supported me. They share my stuff. Not because they're into blogging, but because they're into me or not into me, but you know, they, they know me. They like me. And they think it's kinda cool that they know a podcast or, or that they know somebody who does a blog or who runs their own business from his underwear from home or, you know, whatever. Uh, and it was just hustle. I wrote a big name, no fancy tools, piece of paper and a pen. I wrote out a bunch of names. I sent a messages and that was like the first 150 200 people.
Shannon Mattern: Here's what I love about you saying that because you know, I followed Brian Harris for years. I was actually a student in his growth university. Um, and it is these simplest strategy to sit down and like, you know, call like, go through your contacts, all the things, and then reach out to those people one by one to invite them to like, say, Hey, I'm doing this thing. You know, this is who it's for. Do you or anyone you or anyone, you know, be interested if so here's how to, here's how to do it. And it's, it's like, it's so easy, but people want an answer that's much more fancy and much more I'm like that doesn't involve them putting themselves out there to, to their closest friends, been like, they'd rather be like, Oh, can't you just tell me how to get Facebook ads that are super cheap.
Shannon Mattern: So I can just, you know, do this in one fell swoop. And it's like, no, it really is, you know, going out there and just really putting yourself out there and um, and, and making it happen. And then it does, it builds momentum on its own, but it's all, I, I believe it's truly about like reaching out to your network, building relationships with people who serve the same audience that you do and figuring out how you can serve their audience, not unlike what you do when you podcast interview. I mean, when I first started out, I had no idea what I was doing or that it was a tactic that would work really well for me. But I was like, Oh, I teach, I teach entrepreneurs how to DIY their own WordPress site for their online business. Let me interview some, uh, online business owners or business.
Shannon Mattern: I, I put like a post in a Facebook group. Like I'm looking to interview, um, business coaches who DIY their own website or something like that. And I just interviewed these people, ask them, you know, all about their experience, what they changed the next time. And then they shared that interview with their audience. And then their audience was like, Oh, she teaches how to do that. And that's like, I literally grew it just, you know, seed by seed that you're planting. And then, you know, it feels like kind of a grind at first, but then it takes, it takes off, you know? Yeah.
Pete McPherson: Would you, Oh, you said, do you mean podcast interview?
Shannon Mattern: No. So back then, I didn't have a podcast. I had a blog and it was literally like, Hey, I'd love for you to answer this specific set of questions. And then they would answer it. And I would, um, write up a really nice article. I'd make all the graphics. I would do all those things. I would send the link to them. And I mean, it was just like doing a podcast interview, but I had no podcast. I didn't have a, even an inkling of ever doing a podcast in my mind. Um, but that's how I did it. And then I like promoted their stuff and their freebie and like, you know, was just like wrote a glowing review. And of course they're like, Oh, this is, this makes me look really good. I'm going to share this with my audience. I mean, so that's what it's all about, you know? So I just, I love that you shared that, like you hustled for those first few hundred subscribers, because I mean, it does take, take a little elbow grease or whatever to, to get things going.
Pete McPherson: Yeah, I think can I chime in with something, something I have struggled with in the past as well? Again, I talked about the proverbial boats I'll say never would have had the guts to send those like Facebook messages. People never been able to do that, but I think the deeper issue for me personally, and a lot of entrepreneurs and side hustlers is they almost convinced themselves. It has to be hard. It has to be fancy. Okay. So right now, okay. Shannon and I are pros pro podcasters because we have fancy microphones, but for the longest time I had a very crummy microphone and my download, my podcast was just as good or I know people who have just ridiculous sales. There's a person in my mastermind group who just, it's just crushing it and her business. I will tell you who it is because their website is kind of, it's not fancy.
Pete McPherson: It's not very well designed. Doesn't matter. She's crushing it with her message and her audience, or you want to talk about, you were talking about Facebook ads, one of the top Facebook ads, people. I know his name's, uh, Bobby Hoyt. Actually he runs a blog and a Facebook side hustle course. His images are selfies from his phone. Like there's a fancy Amy Porterfield, Marie Forleo graphics. Like it's just boom, snap, a picture. He'd write some copy. He understands his audience and like the bigger business purpose. And that's what gets them results. It's not the fancy website. It's not the fancy microphones that we paid $400 for. It's not the super complicated outreach pitch emails that we scripted word for word it's us being humans, building real relationships and having experience. You have to have that part experience to understand your audience and your offer. I should put that on t-shirt.
Shannon Mattern: You should put all of that on a tee shirt. Cause I, I could not agree with that more. And one of the things I teach people how to DIY their websites still that's part of my that's part of my leg. You know, one of my very initial offers and I still do that. And then, you know, they hung up on, they're building their website for forever and I have to be like, stop building your websites, stop it. But the computer down it is time for you to shift into marketing yourself. And one of the things that, and I think we touched on this a little bit earlier, I think one of the things that holds them back is that imposter syndrome is that while Pat Flynn's already done it. So I can't teach people how to build websites and get Bluehost commissions. Well, yeah, I can I do it, you know, just cause he did it doesn't mean like he's the only one that can do it.
Shannon Mattern: Right. And you know, so it's just, there's just that thing. And I, I still struggle with it. I did like, who am I to whatever annoyed this person by emailing them or, or all of the horrible things that we think about ourselves that nobody else is even thinking. So, um, yeah. So I wanted to, what's your exp, like, how did you overcome, I know you, you burn the bridges, right? You burn the bridges, so you had to do it anyway. You ha you have a really compelling reason. Like, uh, you gotta feed your family. Um, but once that really started to, to work for you, um, did it get any easier to, to make those, to make those connections? Yeah.
Pete McPherson: Yes and no. So even in my own business, I have instilled not completely lost the whole like shiny object syndrome thing I've been doing, doing the blog pretty steady for three years. And I think everybody would look at that and be like, Oh wow, Pete, that's so amazing. If so much focus, uh, no, well, that's not actually true at all. Uh, I've done podcasting and blogging and Oh, I'm going to do YouTube and, Oh, I'm going to work on like an evergreen product funnel that pitches 24 seven on autopilot. And then I'm like, Oh, well maybe I should do this. Or maybe I should do this. So even with my own business, I've struggled from that. And that's actually been a lot of, uh, that has caused a lot of stress anxiety fill in the blank, the roller, the emotional roller coaster of entrepreneurship. So that right there has been an underlying factor in, you know, some of my ups and downs, but overall I would say easier.
Pete McPherson: I don't know about easier, more straightforward. Yes. How about that? I feel like it never gets completely easy for sure. It just changes like more money, more problems. Well, not necessarily bigger audience, different problems, more business revenues, different problems, not necessarily easier, but I will say on a positive note, something that I think really only comes from experience and launching products and failing, trying to sell services and failing, trying to grow a blog, traffic downloads, email lists and failing is enough experience to get clarity. That's like my favorite word right now, by the way, Shannon like clarity on what I'm spending my time doing and what I'm working for. I just bragging right here. I know now for about the past, like six to nine months, it's actually started to get so much. And I don't think I could have done that a year or two ago for sure. That has been like the biggest, like positively far, just getting a clear understanding of what it is I'm doing. I hope that answered your question too.
Shannon Mattern: No, I want to, yeah. I want to dig more into that. So, so what did you become clear on, you know, what, what is this clarity that you have?
Pete McPherson: Uh, well, it's funny. It actually emanated emanated. I don't know if that's a word. It actually came from a very specific point in time. It was the last week of June last year, 2019, the time we're recording this. And I was in the middle of a launch, a very bad launch, not bad, cause this is really a bad product. It was just bad positioning for my audience, like what they wanted versus what I was actually offering. And the price point was all wrong. And the way I was talking about it, the, the, the message I was communicating was also wrong and, you know, marketing copyright, and it was all bad. It was just pretty much all bet except for the actual product, which actually worked really well for the people who signed up. But I was miserable, miserable. I can't even describe how miserable I was.
Pete McPherson: I was like, what am I doing about it is a new product. I'm already like two and a half years in or two years in, at this point, this is a very brand new product, brand new offer, a completely different space of what am I doing? Like I made money last year. I've had a few successful product launches. I shut them down. Like, why did I do that? And like, what's this new product about like, what am I like going into YouTube? And I'm trying to do this, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm just like, what am I doing? I'm all over the place. I don't know the clear way forward again. I was on vacation at the beach last week of June. And during a launch having this like freak out and just hating myself and like, what am I thinking? I reached out to God, bless her.
Pete McPherson: My number two, her name is Reyna. And I said, Raina, I need you, can we please have a phone call? And sure enough. She's like, yeah, of course, like let's, let's chat it through. So we had like three and a half hour phone call. I'm like walking around Manistee, Michigan by the beach. It's beautiful. I'm still miserable, but it's beautiful on the phone with Reyna. And eventually she asked me this question and here's the big takeaway for your audience? Well, if you could be doing anything like in this business, what would it be like? What's the dream business? Like if you were, I don't know if you're into the Avengers or the Marvel comic book movies I'm into like the Thanatos infinity gauntlet thing, like where he could just snap his fingers and like get whatever he wants. That sort of thing. If you had the thin nose affinity gone, you snapped your fingers.
Pete McPherson: What would your business look like? Not rooted in reality, not like what might actually happen, but know like what if you could just snap your fingers and make it, so what would you be doing? She asked me that question. Rhonda did on the phone call. I had never answered it. I never even thought about it. I had thought about what I would want, but it was all based in like, Oh, well this is reality. My email list, here's my current business growth. So I might be able to do this or whatever I hadn't actually thought about. Wait, what do I actually want? What do I want to be doing on any given day? What do I want my team to look like? I don't want a big team. I don't want to do a startup. I want like maybe two or three, like very dedicated people who are into what I'm into as much as possible.
Pete McPherson: And I don't actually need like a quadrillion dollar business. I actually like a membership model. I just like hanging out with people like part of this combating loneliness and just being around like minded people. Like, that's why I love going to conferences. I want like a, a more membership community based model, not like an online course model. And I want this and I want that. And I started like talking this through, walking around Manistee, Michigan, talking to Raina. And there was just like light bulb moment. And at the end of the phone call, she asked me this. She was like, Pete, that was great. I really loved that. I really loved hearing about your dream business. Is there any reason you can think of why we shouldn't be working towards that business right now? And I was like, no, there's no reason there's nothing stopping me from working on that business and ever since that day or not really, but like ever since that time, when I started to actually build the business that I have now. And do you even blog and online impact? That's the name of my membership community. That's awesome. I'm super happy with it. Ever since I started building that, there's been just like a little bit more clarity, a little bit less pressure to try new things that may or may not work and more incentive to make the things that I already have worked better. I hope that makes sense.
Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh. Such a good story. And I feel like we, I I've been there. I've been there and I've had to just sit back and say, why am I doing this? You know, I, for a long time, I was teaching people how to build websites. And then I was teaching that I was, then they would be like, I don't want to build it. Will you just build it for me? And I'm like, okay, I'll take that money because we have to supplement with freelance, you know, sometimes when we're just starting out. So that's what I did. And you know, last year I got to this point where I was just like, I need to, I need to, I, I don't like working for one person at a time. I feel like I have a drive to have a bigger impact than I can by just building, you know, one website at a time for people.
Shannon Mattern: And so, you know, I found that I was spending like 80% of my time doing one on one client work and 20% of the time doing the podcast and the marketing and all of the other things that I, that just like fuel my soul. And I had to, I had to just make that decision to, to, to end that part of my business. And it was scary. It felt like I was quitting my job again, but I had so much clarity that this is not, this is not the way forward for me. And I know if I keep doing this and I keep pouring all my time, effort and energy into this, it's pulling me away. It's making me hate my life. Just like, you know, just, I was miserable. I was miserable and I knew I wanted to be doing something different. And I think, you know, the PA we do get to design our dream business.
Shannon Mattern: I don't know why. Sometimes we get to this point where we're like, we are where we feel like we don't get to design it, or we don't even think that it's like that we can change it on a dime at any time, because we can, like, we have that control and in our businesses to just be able to say, Hey, guess what? This isn't working. And I get to decide right now that I'm going to change everything because I have that kind of freedom that, um, I didn't have in corporate. And I think it kind of, I still had this like employee mindset that like, I wasn't in control of it somehow, or, or I don't know. So I just, I can so relate to everything that you just said.
Pete McPherson: You would hear one more, uh, not caveat. That's not the right word. One more little tip, or maybe your audience who might be in there. All the tips. I have all the tips here we come, uh, for anybody who might be thinking of that word, we keep dropping clarity and be like, ah, I wish I had some of that. I want me some of that. I've been blogging for a year now. I've been blogging for two years now, the podcasts, whatever I do have one little tip. This is just from my personal experience. Again, something I was always really bad at. And we've, we've already talked about the shiny object syndrome a little bit too is only focusing on what went wrong. I'm not the sort of person that's like going to launch a product, try something new, have it fail. And they'd be like, Oh, it was just a complete failure.
Pete McPherson: Moving on. I always told myself like, Oh, failure, isn't really a thing. Cause you, you, you learn so much from it. Then you get better. That's like straight out of every like entrepreneurship or business like ever, right. There's no such thing as real failure because you learn from it and okay, well maybe I did learn from it, but I was never paying attention to the little things that went. Right. For example, I that 30 day challenge, 2,500 2300 and like 75 bucks from like a tiny email list. What went right there? What did I do wrong? I had no idea because they didn't pay attention to it. I did another product. About six months later, it was very similar. Actually. It was like a 30 day, like accountability thing. I called it the most productive month ever most productive month ever. And I had people sign up.
Pete McPherson: I was like, you pay me a hundred dollars. You sign up with how many times do you want me to call you? Not email. You not text. You call you on the phone for like five minutes at a time. It just bug you like, Hey, did you get this thing done? And I had people say that it was kinda crazy. I hated doing it by the way, which is why I never did it again. It sounds a little bit trouble. My nightmare. However, that program had a 100% success rate, not like a, I don't know what online courses are, but it's abysmal, right? 5%. I don't know. A 100% success rate. Everybody came in. They said, I want to hit this goal. It was in may for the month of may. They signed up, I had the calls when a hundred percent of people accomplish that goal.
Pete McPherson: And then some, everybody was thrilled. I never did it again. And I should have asked myself, okay, what were the small things that went right there that I could tack on to the next course? So the next membership, cause I was going to do something else. I didn't want to do that again, but I was never asking myself like, okay, what were some of the right things? And I could give you more examples, but I want the point is my quote, unquote Thanos, infinity, gauntlet business, like the dream business. That actually makes me happy. That incorporates a lot of those things that went right. It just took me like two and a half years to figure that out. I wish someone had slapped me two years ago and be like, you know what? Just because this thing failed or just because this thing didn't really make you happy.
Pete McPherson: Like the, you know, calling people every single day, it doesn't mean that, that there wasn't more things you could have learned. It doesn't mean that that was actually a bad offering. You just need to like tweak it a little bit to make you less miserable. Or you could take that component of this launch and apply it to this next other product launch or whatever. I was only focused on the fact that they weren't making that much money and they weren't making me happy. I was completely ignoring some of the little things that were actually working really, really well. Like this marketing style, this part of the product or, or yada yada. So that's, that's like one of my tips, everybody keep an open mind and always keep an eye out for what is working in addition to the like, okay, that didn't work. Why not? Or that didn't work time for the next thing. Does that make sense? Yeah.
Shannon Mattern: Yes. So much sense. So much sense. Like, you know, I was answering questions in a Facebook group that I have for my students and inside one of my paid courses. And, and they're like, you know, focusing on, you know, this didn't hit the number that I expected, you know, what should I do? And it's always focused on, like, if I didn't hit this number, then this is, this must not be working and it must be broken. And it's like, yup, that's not true. That's, you know, it's focusing on like, what is working really well? And what does, you know, I always tell them, you know, when you, when you have a sale, like, you know, ask people why they, why they chose to buy, like, what's the, it's like, do the, why did you buy survey after they buy? Because that's going to give you so much more information about like what to keep doing and what, what, what, right.
Shannon Mattern: Like people are always focused on, on the people that didn't buy and what they did wrong and why this didn't go well. And I'm like, you need to focus more on like, you know, just as much, you know, give equal airtime to all the people that did buy. And you assume that they bought, because you did a good job with your marketing and it's not about us, it's always about them. And so when you can, when you can like put your finger, like you can spend more time, like looking at all the things that went, right? Like, just like you said, and kind of like following those trails of all the things that are going really well. Like you can, you can refine, you can just keep doing more of what's working and you can just kind of like sometimes jettison the things that are, or, or all of that. So I just think it's, I just love that you pointed out, it's like focus on what went, right. You get to decide what to keep doing and what to put, what to stop doing for sure.
Pete McPherson: Yeah. No, I love it.
Shannon Mattern: So good. So tell me more. So you, you, you are creating your dream business, you know, your online impact, which I absolutely loved that name. What, uh, kinds of things do you guys do inside of this community?
Pete McPherson: So, okay. I'm going to lay out my business model in detail at the moment. It answers your question too. So the podcasts do even blog. Podcasts is for authority, it's for connections and relationships and the occasional like sponsorship, but isn't that like the primary driver of money, revenue or acquisition, like new eyeballs, new followers. It's not really for that. It's for increasing brand loyalty, connecting with people so on so forth. It's still a great Avenue. I love podcasting. I think almost every creator should be a podcast. Or we can talk about that a little bit later if you want. YouTube is my primary acquisition channel at the moment, just because I think I have an edge there where I don't have an edge in SEO, Billy. I'm a, I'm not like a great writer. I know SEO I've been doing it for years, but it doesn't, it doesn't make me happy.
Pete McPherson: And I'm not like the world's best at it. I'm just like a B plus, maybe like an a minus or whatever. Uh, YouTube. I love editing. I'm good on video. I can be funny occasionally from time to time, uh, which generally suits for video better. And I'm seeing a lot of growth there. So YouTube primary acquisition channel, going back to your question, the business model for me is two things. Number one, 100% scalable products. That's not online impact by the way, that's like courses or whatnot that I had just refuse to add like a bunch of stuff onto like, Oh one on one coaching, if you upgrade. No, I don't want to do any of that. I don't want to do that. I want those products, this half of my monetization business to be 100% scalable, 20 people could join next week. And two pod course that I literally launching at the time we're recording this.
Pete McPherson: There's a couple of days left in may, June one. I'm launching podcasts. That's my big offering for 2020, and it's 100% scalable, a million people join. Great. I can handle that. I don't know about how about a million actually, now that I think about it, but a lot of people, that's one side of the business and that's mostly geared towards honestly, just revenue. Like that's what it is. It's scalable. And it doesn't cost me anything. Now for the most part, I have to launch it and market it. But that is what I have to do that either way on that impact is more of what I want to be doing on any given day. And this is what I told Raina about on that call. Like last year, walking around Manistee is like, I want to be at my laptop at my desk, like in my happy place, my office, where I'm at right now, surrounded by my favorite gear.
Pete McPherson: I'm a gear nerd. And I want to be hanging out with these people, my members of Atlantic Beck, like they're bloggers. There's a lot of podcasters in there. They're all cool. And down to the earth, down to earth people because I market the product to them. Uh, it's a little bit higher priced. It's a little bit more high touch. Like I'm in our Slack community. We do group calls twice a month. I do a members only podcasts just for them. And I do a little bit of like a blog audits, if you will, or like reviews or, you know, some SEO focused stuff. Like it's a little bit more hands on, but it's what I truly love doing. Like every single day I just enjoy. I always have, I've enjoyed that aspect of it. So that is like the other half of the monetization puzzle and my business model.
Pete McPherson: It's not going to make, Oh, by the way, the reason I have the scalable 100% scalable like courses model as because online impact, it's not going to be like multimillion dollar business in the next couple of years. It's just not, it's a recurring revenue fee. It's a high touch like program. It's not going to, I'm not going to charge like $3,000 for it. It's not going to be like a multimillion dollar lunch. That's why I needed like the courses and the other parts of my business. There's also some like affiliate marketing Thrones. And I make like, I don't know, like a thousand or like $1,500 in affiliate marketing on a monthly basis. That's fine. That's like thrown in there too, but scalable profit driven what I really want to be doing. What makes Pete happy, driven? That's the membership community.
Shannon Mattern: Oh, so I just, I love that breakdown. I have a similar breakdown in my business, um, as well, but I think, I think the thing that, that really kind of stood out to me when you were saying that it's like, Oh, you get to do what you loved doing when you were building those first 50 blogs, except for, you're just kind of going behind, underneath the hood for other people that have other types of other types of content and things that they're doing. And you get to kind of not live vicariously through them, but you get to help them, you know, figure out how to grow all these different kinds of things because you have that, all of that experience to lend to them. So I just, I think that it's like, it seems kind of like full circle, but maybe you mentioned it and I, yeah, I just, I think that I felt I can relate to wanting to kind of have that personal, a personal relationship with people.
Shannon Mattern: Cause I think you learn so much more about, I learned so much more about my business and how I want to do things by helping, helping other people do it. And, but I tried the whole, like 100% scalable, no contact kind of thing. And I just always felt like this just doesn't work for, for me to be able to help people have the transformation that I want to have them to help want to help them have without, um, being able to just like, be a sounding board for them or provide that kind of like extra, you know, extra level. So I think that that's really, really interesting. Um, and I'll definitely link up all of the information about online impact in the show notes. So everyone can go check that out because it doesn't matter what kind of business we have. Like we need to establish our thought leadership and our, um, you know, kind of put forward what it is that we're what we're all about and how it's, you know, it, it is different, everyone.
Shannon Mattern: We're all doing the same thing, but we do it. I'll do it in different ways. And you know, um, those are, those are the mechanisms that we do it through. So I think that it's, that's really, really interesting. So I have just a couple more questions for you before we, before we wrap up, you've shared so much good information. I have like a thousand more questions for you if we had the time, but rapid fire. So what is your number one? Um, if someone who's listening, who's struggling to get traction with their online business. What is your number one piece of advice for that person
Pete McPherson: Be patient? It's not all going to be like, you know, Pat Flynn growth over here. It's not going to be like three years or may or may not be five years and maybe three months. I don't know. You may, you may strike gold. Who, who knows. And that's my point. You have to come an online business, making money via the internet. I don't care if it's freelancing or blogging or what it is. You have to come in with an expectation of patients. It might work. It might not. It may take a year. It may take 10 years. You have no idea. And nobody else does. I don't know anybody else who tells you otherwise is selling you something and probably asking too much for it. There is no one path for everyone. There's just not, there might be some that are fairly similar, but it's not exactly the same.
Pete McPherson: And so it takes time to figure out your path. I told you about the, we talked about the clarity already. It took me two years to find that it took you up until a year ago to figure out like, I actually kind of like wants something a little bit more scalable. I feel like I'm working for one person, took me a while to figure that out. So again, no one wants to hear it. This is terrible advice for anybody trying to sell a blogging or podcasting product, but he's gotta be patient. You've got to have the expectations up front that it's going to take. I
Shannon Mattern: Love that answer so much. And it's funny cause that's like, you know, I'm always like if you are looking for instant gratification, do not buy, do not become my customer because we are not trying. I'm like, if that is what you want, I am not for you. We're working on building like a longterm strong foundations and figuring out like what works for you along the way. And, and you know, yeah. I couldn't agree more patients. And I think it just ties back to what you said earlier. Like if you don't have the passion, you're not going to have the patients, you know, I think that you have to, you have to like put that on a tee shirt. Shannon t-shirt designed by the way. Yeah. We'll, I'll have to put a picture of a picture of your tee shirts in the show notes, but yeah, I just, I, I, I persisted and it sounds like you did like through, I just had this belief that like, it was possible.
Shannon Mattern: I was just like, I am going to make this happen. I was like very determined. So, um, and my passion, the passion that was driving me in the beginning was wanting to like get changed my situation, you know, that was like the driving force. And now it's become wanting to have a bigger impact it's way less selfish than it was back then. But, um, yeah. Um, so I asked this final question of everybody that comes on the show and that is what belief about yourself. Did you have to change to get to where you are today?
Pete McPherson: Great question. Yeah, well, a lot I had to completely become a different person. Now I had to convince myself that I was worthy of success and not even saying that I'm wildly successful now, but actually I'm an Enneagram type three, if anybody's are you okay? Maybe, maybe you can identify with this Enneagram type threes for those that don't know are largely motivated out of a fear of failure or more specifically being perceived as a failure. That's why I pretty much do everything in my life. I don't like being perceived as a failure. And so a lot of Enneagram three or does forget the Instagram, this, this applies to a lot of people. A lot of people will hold back because it's a good excuse when things don't go the way they want. I had a mastermind call, uh, probably like four months ago now. And I swear my mastermind buddies.
Pete McPherson: They're so great because they're probably tired of hearing me complain about this. Uh, but when it comes to like all those product launches and like trying out different strategies, a lot of times my buddies a little like just poke me and be like, you didn't get that at your best. You didn't go a hundred percent there. You, you went 95% of the way you could, you left stuff on the table. And I think you're doing that because there's a kind of like a fear of failure and success at the same time. Like if I didn't give it my all, I can point to that and be like, that's why that didn't work. That's why that didn't fail or whatever. But when I give it my all and I put 100% of my efforts into a product launch, then I'll have to, if it fails, then I'll have to like own up to that.
Pete McPherson: And that's tough for somebody like me. I don't feel, I don't feel worthy of that success. Like actually giving it my all I don't, I don't feel worried about that. I'm too scared. I'm fearful of being perceived as a failure. So your question, like asking what have, I, I don't remember how you worded it, but basically like what's changed there and how I believe what I believe about myself. Yeah. It's taken a long time, but I have to be worthy of putting good content out, fighting imposter syndrome and enough. So to actually do what it takes to do a good product launch, to build a great business, to actually have an impact on people, to actually reach people, uh, until I like kind of made that switch and I'm still, I still struggle with it. Totally. But until I made that switch, I was always like taking the easy way out. I was given everything like 90% just cause I wanted to leave some stuff on the table in case I failed. I could point to those things to be like, that was the failure, not Pete. So that's been my big change.
Shannon Mattern: Ah, that is so good. So, but you didn't, did you need the mastermind to really kind of point that out to you? Or did you come to that conclusion on your own? Like, Oh, I am actually a self sabotaging myself so that I don't have to so that, um, so that if I do give it my all, I don't have to, like, I'm not taking the self, the full responsibility of myself. If it fails, it wasn't my fault. I talk, I can still relate to this by the way it was that thing's fault. It wasn't my fault. It was the timing. It was the holidays. It was this. It was that, that, you know, it wasn't me. It wasn't me. It was this external reason.
Pete McPherson: It's funny. You mentioned timing and holidays, by the way I told you about the last week of June, like a call that I had with Raina, that was the product offering, like the cart close, like I'm launching a product that cart close was on July 4th. You were talking about timing and stupidity and that's not the first time I'd done something like that. And so to answer your question, yes, it has largely been not just the mastermind group, but the people I've surrounded myself with and hit super valuable for every entrepreneur. I would argue. It's been those people. In fact, I'll give a shout out to my friend. Chelsea, Chelsea in particular has pointed to me and be like, don't launch on holidays again. Stop it. And part of it's like, well, that launch didn't go well, but that's because it was July 4th or that's because it was black Friday. Well that's cause it was new years or whatever. And so Chelsea is one of my close friends. Who's able to look at me and be like, stop. Don't do it on holidays. Like that's one more self sabotage that we're not going to let you do anymore. So yeah, that's been my, my mastermind group in, in Pierce.
Shannon Mattern: Okay. So I lied. I have one more question. Cause I'm fascinated by your answer to this. Cause I want to know if it's, it's PR it's purely selfish. I want to know if it like reveals anything in me that I, that I need to work on. But why do you think you're holding yourself back from success? Or why do you think you were holding yourself back from success? Like what's scary about the success.
Pete McPherson: Yeah. It comes back to imposter syndrome is a little bit broad of a term, I think, but that's pretty close to what it was and not having enough self-worth to actually feel like I even have what it takes to build a successful business or have an impact on somebody's life or yada, yada, who am I? Like? We talked about the Pat Flynn's Amy Porterfield's like, who am I to like tell people how to start podcasts or help people blogging even now, like I've been doing this full time for three years now. Like even now I still struggle with that. So I don't know if that answered your question or not, but it's definitely imposter syndrome.
Shannon Mattern: I think for me, it's, it's the, who am I? And then what if it doesn't work for them? Like what if I tell them to do something and then they fail and then it's like a reflection on me that I've failed somehow. So I think that's back to the whole Enneagram three of like, I feel like, I think I have way more control than I do. Like I am not, I cannot be responsible for someone else's results. All I can do is, you know, um, give them the best information that I have, you know, and, and you know, all the support that I want to give if, you know, within boundaries of making sure I create a business that makes me happy and I've just recently come to that clarity like that, all I can do is just give it my all, but their results are ultimately up to them to, to pursue.
Shannon Mattern: And I think once I kind of figured out, like I'm trying to make myself responsible for their failure, which means I'm also trying to make myself responsible for their success when they do win and that's pretty messed up. Cause that was all on that many way. Yeah. So that, I think that that's kind of the moment of clarity that I've had. That's like making me, like, I'm going to stop holding myself back from marketing because I know I have great stuff to give and I know that the people that want to persist will persist and the ones that don't, maybe it's not their time or they it's, you know, they're on a different path or whatever. So I just appreciate this conversation. It was really, really good. Really good stuff. Yeah. So Pete, where can everyone go, um, learn more about, do you even blog and the amazing community that you have and all the things that you have to offer over there?
Pete McPherson: Yeah. I put a pretty good amount of time into my homepage, email@example.com? So you should be able to find pretty much anything there. I'll also give a hashtag offer pitch to my other stuff. So yeah. Online impact.co is my membership community. We launched, uh, well we did launch twice a year, but we're actually going to do it every, every quarter now every three months. And if people are looking for like an uncomplicated, not a complicated, but uncomplicated system for podcasting, I'm watching pod course pod course.com spelled exactly like it sounds, I suppose people would go check that out. There's also some free trainings and material there as well.
Shannon Mattern: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sharing your story and all the tips and advice. It was awesome. I learned a lot. Um, and yeah, it's just, it was great. Thank you.
Pete McPherson: Yeah, no, thank you. The honor is all mine. Shannon. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
Don't miss an episode!
Sign up to get new episodes + info about free trainings to help you go from side-hustle to self-employed delivered right to your inbox every Wednesday!
Pete McPherson is the founder of Do You Even Blog, an award-winning blog, podcast, and YouTube channel dedicated to helping creators build impactful (and profitable) businesses on the internet. He has interviewed some of the top entrepreneurs and creators in the world, including Matt Mullenweg, Neil Patel, John Lee Dumas, Brittney Muller, Glen Allsopp, and many more. He’s also the CEO of Online Impact, a private membership community of high-impact bloggers & podcasters.