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The Published Author Podcast

INFUSIONSOFT (KEAP) MASTER FUNNEL BUILDER TALKS BUILDING AN AUTHOR EMAIL LIST AND MUCH MORE

Way back in episode 67 with Wendy Keller, Wendy referenced Paul Sokol, explaining that Paul is an expert at building funnels—essential for authors building their audience and contacts. Paul talks about this and lots more in this episode, including the new book he’s working on. 
Paul Sokol is an expert on automated experience design and the author of Infusionsoft Cookbook: Over 88 Recipes For Effective Use of Infusionsoft To Mitigate Your CRM Needs, Marketing Automation, Conducting Online Business Optimally. This book is extremely niche, but it was an important step for Paul in terms of building his business, getting speaking gigs, and gaining new opportunities.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle:

Welcome to the Published Author Podcast where we help entrepreneurs learn how to write a book and leverage it to grow their business and make an impact. I’m your host, Josh Steimle.
Today, my guest is Paul Sokol. Paul is an expert on automated experience design, and he's the author of Infusionsoft Cookbook, over 88 recipes for effective use of Infusionsoft to mitigate your CRM needs, marketing automation, and conducted online business optimally. But the way that Paul and I got connected was that back in Episode 67 with Wendy Keller, who is a literary agent, I was interviewing her, and at the end of the episode, she's like, oh, you know what, your authors, they need funnels, they need marketing help, you really should talk to my friend Paul, he'd be a great guest on the show. So here we are. Paul, welcome to the show.

Paul Sokol:

Thanks for having me. And I want to apologize for you trying to read that headline, that totally came from the publisher, and like, they're like, here's the [inaudible 00:01:01] here's the cover, you want to proof it, and I found a couple things on there, and that's just weird, reads weird. I am like, oh god, he's going to try and read this thing, and like, it gets weird at the end of that sentence. So [inaudible 00:01:13]

Josh Steimle:

It is a bit of a long subtitle there, but it's all good.

Paul Sokol:

Yeah.

Josh Steimle:

This is one of the lessons, right, for authors is that sometimes publishers mess around with your title and do things that you're like, I wish you wouldn't have done that, but it is what it is.

Paul Sokol:

Yeah, it is.

Josh Steimle:

Well, Paul, tell us a little bit more about yourself, where do you come from, how did you get to where you are today, and what are you doing today?

Paul Sokol:

Man, that's a fun journey. So let's see, so I come from Florida, as we're talking about right before we hit record, so born and raised in Sarasota, basically, so it's about an hour south of Tampa. And then I went to college in Orlando and got a degree in electrical engineering, and then got a master's degree in electrical engineering in signal processing, because I wanted to go to school and do stuff that make the sounds, like drum machines and stuff like that. In fact, my senior design project was a stringless guitar. And I even did an internship in my senior year undergrad, but in parallel to all of this, as I'm going through school, I got recruited to sell knives. So have you ever heard of Cutco before, Josh?

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, knives, right.

Paul Sokol:

Yeah, finest set of cutlery. So I got recruited to sell Cutco very beginning, first semester freshman year, and not only did I learn how to do direct sales, I also became a sales manager and assistant manager. And so, I was helping train and develop the rest of the team and helping hold down the office. And so, around then, when that ended, that's when I did that internship, and then I realized electrical engineering school and whatnot, but like, I don't know if I want to do this for 40 years and just like sit behind a computer and be a board monkey, and occasionally go into the lab. Like, I don't know, I need a little more excitement for that. So at the very beginning of grad school, I started a video email company with one of my good buddies Will Franco Jive Systems, and that was way ahead of its time. I mean, it's video email, even in 2021, that's still – it's still not there yet. So we were just way ahead of what was going on, but that's where I got introduced to Infusionsoft which is what ultimately wrote the book about. And now, Infusionsoft is known as KEAP, and they are the, in my opinion, they're the top sales and marketing automation software for entrepreneurial small businesses. They [inaudible 00:03:25] exclusively on small business, the small, scrappy types like you and I. And they always will, there's plenty of stuff out there for enterprise.
And so, that's why I got exposed to that software. We actually became a certified partner in 2009, back when it was called the CMAC program, the certified marketing automation coaches. And then, after grad school in 2010, I ended up switching coasts, ended up being homeless on the streets of San Diego for a little bit, and then ended up working at Infusionsoft as a success coach. So actually they basically literally scooped me up off the streets, and I was a success coach, helping people onboard with the software when they first started. That's where I met amazing people like Wendy and all sorts of folks. And after launching my 200th customer, I got pulled into the product team, and then this is where it really started to take off, because they have a whiteboard that spits out money. Now, that's a Frank Kern quote, it's a visual campaign builder, where you literally say, hey, I want to have a landing page here, and then I want people to get this email, and then, if they buy this thing, stop all that, but then start this other thing, and just, it's one of the coolest systems out there, and it's for small business. This stuff exists at the enterprise level for sure. But it requires enterprise level knowledge and expertise. It's not super easy to use and whatnot, and so, the fact that this is drag and drop simple, when it was released in 2012, when I was still a coach, I saw the power immediately and I’m like, I want to be a world leader in this, I’m literally in here at the ground floor, like, I work for the company that's releasing this, I’m giving feedback to the product team with the rest of the coaches, like, I can become one of the best people in the world using this tool.
And so, that was kind of my mission, I set out to do that, and I was taking roles to work on this tool and speaking at their conferences about it. And then, I mentioned something about a cookbook in one of my presentations, and a publisher approached me because that's, I guess what they do, and they look for people that are subject matter experts, and they literally have them write cookbooks on stuff like Python or R script or Salesforce CRM, or just anything that's a technical thing. And they'd been looking for someone to write a cookbook on Infusionsoft, but, I guess, there's nobody that kind of really cut the mustard. And so, I fortunately did, and through the blessing of my manager, and then the CTO, and then the legal department, I got to write this book. And so, what's really cool is that yeah, it's a technical book on a piece of software, but if you can look past that, it's actually a book on email marketing, and that's why people still buy it today, and it's sold over 1000 copies, which, for such an esoteric type of topic, here's a book on a piece of software that like 99.9% of populations never even heard of. It's pretty exciting. And so, I don't know, have I answered the question, I feel like I’ve been rambling.

Josh Steimle:

No, it's just perfect. And that's interesting, because for a lot of people, if they heard a 1000 copies, they'd be like, wait, only a 1000 copies, but it's all relative. Right? It depends on the niche that you're going after, the audience what you're trying to teach people. My first book, Chief Marketing Officers at Work, it's like, yeah, I wrote that, I knew it wasn't going to be a best seller, because how many CMOS are there out there, and how many people are interested in CMOS. And so, I knew, at best, this book is going to sell a 1000, 2000, 3000 copies, and that's the best I can hope for, it's never going to be a best seller. And that's about where it's at, it's somewhere between like 2000 and 2500 copies now, and I’m like, you know, I’m good with that, because I knew what I was getting into. So it's good as an author to know what you're getting into before you write your books, so that you're not let down when it doesn't sell 150,000 copies, which is super, super rare for any book to sell something like that.

Paul Sokol:

Yeah.

Josh Steimle:

So you wrote the book, what was the response after you wrote the book, did that lead to more opportunities either with your career speaking or other things?

Paul Sokol:

Oh yeah, absolutely. That was completely a launch pad to all sorts of stuff, so more speaking opportunities, growing my audience immensely. I already had a little, a small newsletter list before that point, and after it launched, it grew that newsletter list, of course, because I intentionally did it. In the foreword, I made sure to tell people, go to [inaudible 00:08:01] and sign up for the newsletter. And so, that's making it intentional that way, I was able to do that with the publisher, it was really very tightly controlled process. I had pretty much no creative control other than what's in the recipes, and like the words in the screenshots. And then, like you, I knew that this wasn't going to be some bestseller selling millions, and it's just really building the other parts of the career in the business and positioning for that authority. And now, I can't say, yeah, I’m a published author, and now I can actually say, listen, it sold [inaudible 00:08:38] thousand copies. I found that out recently from the publisher, because I was curious how big is this thing. And then, one thing, it did pigeonhole me though, and that was the one thing that I wasn't – I guess, I expected or maybe I didn't consider it, because it was a book about one piece of software. I’m the Infusionsoft guy, which is cool, that's great, and the Infusionsoft guy also does way more than just that, more than just funnels. That's why this next book I’m writing about is it's completely platform agnostic, and it's generally just Abell business, just period, no matter what size business. Because I’ve worked with, I mean, I’ve spoken to well over a thousand personally individual businesses like by now who are doing this since, I mean, even 2008 at Jive Systems, I was coaching people on how to use the software in their business. So like, I don't know how many people I’ve spoken to, but it's got to be at least over a thousand, and they all have different businesses. Everything is kind of the same, it's like the human body.

Josh Steimle:

So you're not working for KEAP/Infusionsoft today, is that right?

Paul Sokol:

No, no, I’m one of their certified partners, I’m one of their top certified partners in the world still. I still love the community, they still are a family to me, and not like the corporate family, but like these certified partners, if they really came and [inaudible 00:10:00] need a place to crash, I'd be like, you can crash on my couch, like, that's cool [inaudible 00:10:03]. It's like a whole bunch of older brothers and a whole bunch of little sisters that I never had, which apparently is not at all common in certified partner communities. Usually, it's like, here's my blood money, give me my certificate, and now, I’ll stab anybody in the back who comes near me that has the same certificate, like, there's none of that in this community.

Josh Steimle:

Cool. So tell us a little bit more about the book that you're working on right now, you said general business, but is it marketing focused, is it funnel focused, or, tell us a little bit more about what it's...

Paul Sokol:

That's all too way specific and like general business, and that's why I'm writing this book, because it's something that I’ve been teaching for years. I even got invited to speak about it at the Phoenix Startup Week last year, when live events are still a thing. It's called a business stack, and the whole idea is that any business, whether you're a hotdog cart vendor or like Disney, you have seven functions or seven things, seven layers to your business, and it's all a customer centric model. So your customer experiences your offer, your product or your service, through their customer journey, through the marketing of it, the sales of it, and the fulfillment of it, [inaudible 00:11:11] and then behind the curtain, you have the operations, which is run by people, and then, of course, money pays for all that. And so, that's all I’m talking about in this book is I’m making all of that distinct, because there [inaudible 00:11:27] specific, what is an offer, what does – so for example, I learned when I was doing research and development in the product team at Infusionsoft, there's 11 components that make up an offer.
So it's not just like the price, it's like, what's your price magnitude, what's your sales cycle, what's your transaction mode, what's your fulfillment mode, is it B2B or B2C, is it a product or a service – I don't know, I had the list in front of me, but it'll makes sense when you think about it. But if this isn't made distinct to you, and you're trying to start a business, you have no idea. And then, so, for example, you're talking about marketing and funnels and whatnot. Those are all just operational tools within the marketing journey. So if you want to build a funnel, cool, that's great, that's honestly just a bastardized word at this point. It's basically saying influence at this point. A funnel is just an experience. So like, I want them to go to this page, and then maybe they fill out a form and then go to this page and see this video, and maybe then they get an email with some of the exercises from the book, because when the book launches, then I'm going to say go buy the book kind of thing. And then, of course, what tool do I use, that's just operational stuff. Focus on the journey you're actually creating. Make sure it's realistic, but do that, and then funnel stacking is just you have a marketing journey, cool. Then you also have a sales journey. You have now stacked two funnels together, congratulations. You can tell I’m a little cynical and salty towards these kind of terms, and that's why I’m writing this book because I hate people – actually hold on – I do not hate people, I dislike that these folks will you know [inaudible 00:13:18] some methodology, create their own language for it [inaudible 00:13:21] building tactics. You have to know the language, otherwise you're not cool. The leader at the top is the person with all the answers. If you don't conform to the group, you are ashamed or you're punished, and so the literal, the features of a call, that's what these big whatever internet guys you see them doing, because they're – and all they're teaching is one marketing tactic. They're not even talking about people systems, hey, have you ever heard [inaudible 00:13:54] I don't know, have you ever heard one of these beginner marketing guys talk about an I-9 form? Do you know what an I-9 form is Josh?

Josh Steimle:

I don't. What is an I-9 form?

Paul Sokol:

When you're hiring somebody to put on your team, an I-9 form is verifying their legal eligibility to work. You're seeing their driver's license, and then their passport or like, there's a couple different things you can do to basically say, all right, you're legal to work here. Because if the worst case happens, and you're ever audited, there's so many questions to that, and you don't have those documents on file. Now, that's conversation you don't want to have. So that's in the money layer, legal stuff shows up in money. So like in the money chapter, I'm going to explain, like, at least in America no [inaudible 00:14:38] if you're paying people as a W2 and 1099, and what the difference is.
Anyway, that's why I’m writing this book, because it's not just marketing, it's not just like sales, it's not like give them the best customer service you ever can. It's all of it. It's operations. You got to, for your people stuff, you have to have a really clear vision, like, on the wall over here, I've got my Q3 plan hanging up. So me and one person on my team, we're using enterprise level tools [inaudible 00:15:07] and scaling up to stay on track with what we're doing. Because there's been that seven plates to spin, and each of those plates has multiple plates inside of it. So one person doing it all by themselves is going to feel overwhelmed, they're going to feel like they don't know what they're doing, like, it's too much. And that's why, 50% of businesses fail after the first five years, and, to me, that's upsetting, and I don't want that to happen. And it's just because people don't know what they don't know, they don't understand that. There's some people out there that don't understand that doing payments, as a payment term, is even a thing. They don't. They just think that one payment in full, that's the only way you can ever do anything. Maybe they'll think about like a multi subscription model or whatnot, but maybe they've never considered it's two payments, it's two payments man. So there's a lot to unpack in this book, and I know I’m just coming at you, bro. So hope this is what you're going for.

Josh Steimle:

No, this is great. [inaudible 00:16:05] I love it when we get kind of raw and behind the scenes on this stuff, because this is what the audience here wants to hear, they want to hear how do you really write a book, how do you think through this. And you're thinking through it out loud here with this, so this is great. So what are some of the lessons you learned from writing your first book that you're applying to this new book, things that you're doing differently, things that you're doing the same?

Paul Sokol:

Well, definitely a different publisher, for sure. A publisher, I’m a musician, I’m a heavy metal guy, I even have a charity called Keep Children Rockin' which provides music equipment repairs and donations to schools. And we have a heavy metal festival to fund it, at least when events are happening, so next year we'll get to do them. So big lesson was with the publisher, and that's what, it's like a label. So if you're like a band, and you get signed to a label, but the label [inaudible 00:16:55] that's really going to hinder you, it's going to limit what you can do. Whereas if you signed your label that's good, and they allow artistic creativity and things like that, that'll be able to help you do what you do. I guess, so the publisher is really important, and really make sure that you think through everything that you want. Like, I worked with a client once, I had a book through Wiley, we were launching a book, it was published through Wiley. Right? They wouldn't let us run ads on Amazon. The book was being sold on Amazon, that was the primary channel, they wouldn't let us sell ads on Amazon. And they wouldn't even let us – they wouldn't even give us a user to their Amazon ad account, so we could run ads on their account. And it was in the contract, and they were real staunch, like, no, we're not going to let you spend your own money to sell your own book. That's what I heard – I heard we don't care about you.
So that's a deal breaker for me as, at least, a modern publisher, like, I need to be able to run my own ads to my own book, and I need to be able to own my own Amazon. And you know what, I need to see [inaudible 00:17:57] contract exclusively because of that, with someone, and you are someone like Wendy, you're my age and may need to really talk me off a ledge, because I need that controller, it's my IP. That's the other thing too, like, that cookbook, they owned all of that, they even had me turn it into video course, and then owned all of that. In hindsight, it was still a good move, and I kind of wish I just made the video course myself. But again, I think I was bound by my contract in that way too, but I don't think I could have made the videos without their permission anyway, because it was their IP, yada, yada, yada.
So, I think the biggest lesson is like can I swear? Is this is one of those podcasts?

Josh Steimle:

You can...

Paul Sokol:

I am not like super vulgar, but like, okay...

Josh Steimle:

We do bleep it out, but you can swear.

Paul Sokol:

Oh, well then, okay, cool, that would be effective. On your [inaudible 00:18:51] own it, like, as much of it as you can. If there's going to be a website for the book, own not just the website, own the domain. If you're going to be collecting people into a list, own your list, like, own as much of this as humanly possible, because they're going to be training you for as much blood as they can get. That's their job as a publisher, they're squeezing your orange for as many sales as they can. And I'm pretty nihilistic about stuff, they don't care about you, you are a money to them, you're an offer actually to be orthodox in my language, you're an offer to them. And so, they don't really care about you, they care about the books that you can sell. So look out for you first, make sure you own everything that you can. Obviously, you can't own 100% everything, but look out for your long term, like, I knew that I wanted to [inaudible 00:19:48] at some point, and I don't know, again, I’d probably still do it just because what better [inaudible 00:19:55] that's when the iron was hot kind of thing. But now that they've rebranded to KEAP, I’m going to do my own like that, me, I own it, it's not theirs kind of thing.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, I kind of had a similar experience too with my first book and my publisher. I mean, I’m thankful that they gave me the opportunity, it was educational, I learned a lot about the publishing industry. But they were a technical publisher, and I was writing a business book, and so, their expertise just wasn't quite a match for the type of book that I was publishing. And that came out when we went to cover design, because they gave me a cover design, and it looked like a textbook. And I was like, no, this is a business book, and this looks like a textbook, and so we had a little kind of a fight over cover design. And I ended up hiring my own designer and saying, look, that, doesn't this look better, and they agreed, and they said, okay, yeah, that is better, you can use that since you paid for it. And so, we had to negotiate some of these things, and then I ran into the same thing, they wouldn't let me do Amazon ads, because I would have to go through them because they're the owner of the book, and they didn't want to deal with me getting into their account and stuff. And so, I couldn't run Amazon ads, I was like, well, how do I sell this book on Amazon without doing Amazon ads. And so, you know, I’m still grateful that I had the opportunity. But as soon as I was done, I said, well, I’m not going to do that again, because now I’m educated, I know a little bit more about the industry, and sounds like your experience was almost identical to mine.

Paul Sokol:

I was shocked, because this was like this [inaudible 00:21:24] ninth or 10th book, and it was the first time Amazon ads came up and I’m like, what! It was like that blink emoji, like, excuse me. So yeah, I mean, that's going to be – that's almost a hard line in the sand for me, like, either you give me access to my Amazon listing or you double my advance, Like, period, like, triple it actually, just, you want the Amazon listing, you're paying for it, really paying for it. Because I know this is a good book, and I know that I’m going to be able to sell it.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah.

Paul Sokol:

Anyway, pull my ego back a little bit.

Josh Steimle:

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Cool. So when are you looking for this second book to come out?

Paul Sokol:

So it should be getting shopped around in September, and then assuming it gets picked up, it'll be getting written in basically the rest of this year. And then, I think January 23 would be – January 2023 would be the release to be getting dropped. So there's plenty of time between now and then. So kind of hyping it up, but I'm going to be doing a virtual book tour when it drops. And so, I don't know if you'd be interested to be a part of that. [inaudible 00:23:08]

Josh Steimle:

Absolutely. Yeah, let's have you back on when you do that.

Paul Sokol:

That'd be cool.

Josh Steimle:

All right. So let's switch gears a little bit. Let's talk about, let's go back and put you in your pigeonholed place of being a funnel expert, and let's talk about marketing and authors, and some of the lessons that you've learned, what are you going to be doing for your book in terms of launch and marketing, and what can other authors, first time authors learned from you about how to launch their books and market them?

Paul Sokol:

Yeah, so pretty much, I mean, it's called the launch, and it truly is something where you need to build up an audience way before you even start. So like, I think Wendy calls this building your platforms, she'd probably talk about that in her [inaudible 00:23:52]. So make sure you're building your platform now. So talk about the stuff that you're going to be writing about regularly, everywhere. And then when the book is like about to come out, maybe two-three months beforehand, you need to start building that waiting list of people that want the book when it comes out, or, at least want to be notified when it comes out, they're not committing to buying it. I mean, you could segment your list like that when people give you their name and their email, hey, check this box if you definitely know you want to buy this, like, I might do that. So that's an advanced segmentation idea, I guess. I guess, it's advanced, I don't know. To me, that's kind of like standard issue kind of stuff, like, hey, you might as well segment your audience, right? But go ahead and do that, at the very least you have a list. Now, ideally, people aren't just signing up and then, like, that's it. Ideally, you're connecting with them and telling some kind of a story counting down to it, to the event here. Now, I’m not necessarily saying blow them up with like one email every single day. They may not need that. But tell a story, connect with them, reward them for getting on this list and help hype up the book. And so, there's the waiting list period. So you're basically doing everything that you can to get people onto your waiting list. So you're either driving people to your site, or you're driving them to your chatbot, or there's some other way you're collecting a list, maybe you’re doing this – I mean, I would still recommend doing a Facebook event, but you still want people at RSVP to join your list, because what did I say earlier, you want to own it, Facebook owns that list, own your list. So this is also where multichannel stuff comes in as well. So like, you can be posting all over Facebook and groups and on your page and your profile, you can be on Twitter, LinkedIn, whatever channels you're on, just be on those channels, don't try and go to any other place unless you have an audience of, I don't know, at least a 1000 on a particular channel, just focus on there until you got that and people talking and kind of move on to the next one. But build your list, and that's leading up to the book launch. So I guess, that's a good stopping point.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, I don't think we can...

Paul Sokol:

There's probably questions [inaudible 00:26:17]

Josh Steimle:

I don't think we can over emphasize this point enough that it's about driving the traffic from your other channels to your list, because that is the one thing that you own, especially, these days, I mean, in the last few months, we see all these people getting deplatformed; and so, you see people with huge audiences on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, whatever, and then the next day, it's gone. Because they said something wrong, and somebody flagged their account, and maybe what they said they really said, maybe they didn't even say what they're accused of saying, but people are getting deplatformed all the time. And even if you're not deplatformed, because, I mean, honestly, who does that really happen to, it's not like everyday folks necessarily, but they might change the way the platform works or something for everybody. And all of a sudden, you were getting all this attention, I mean, Facebook did this, right, you're getting all sorts of attention, and all of a sudden, it's, if you want that attention, you're going to have to pay for it going forward. And so, whereas you might have been getting 50,000 people seeing your stuff, now you're getting 500 a month. And if you had built up your email list, then you could have those people on your email, but because you depended on Facebook, now you just lost your entire audience. And so, getting people from those channels to your email list, it's just, it's so key, I've learned that lesson the hard way myself.

Paul Sokol:

Yeah. And it's not just your email list, just like just a list, maybe it's a list of phone numbers, list of addresses, whatever you can do build a street team, when people join your list, ask them if they also want to join your street team, and then do something else for them, help them hype it up and share it around. There's all sorts of things you can do with that. They say that the money is in the list, which is not true. The money is in the relationship with the list. So again, it's not just enough to capture them or to collect the lead, capture is not the right connotation here. Once we collect the lead, once they share that information with us, you do need to build that relationship. But again, you never want to blow up and get people unsubscribing before the book's even launched, like, that's not the point. The point is for them to look forward to these emails and to get to know you more, because this is like that inner circle exclusivity that you're in. And you can use that inclusivity angle in your emails too, especially for the people that sign up early, maybe give them a really special story. You can say, hey, this is the first one I’m sending, and you're on the early waiting list, and so, here's an extra special story that you only get because you're one of 200 people, whatever.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, it's good how you say the money's not in the list, because I can go buy a list of 100,000 email addresses and send out an email and zero of those people are going to buy my book.

Paul Sokol:

Nobody cares, yeah.

Josh Steimle:

But if I develop strong relationships with 500 people on my list, and those people really know me and like me and trust me, I can send out an email, and I’m going to sell 200-300, maybe I’ll sell 500 books if those people really have a strong relationship with me; and then they'll go tell all their friends about the book too. And those 500 are going to be worth way more than 100,000 because of the relationship. It's all about the relationship.

Paul Sokol:

It is all about the relationship, and that's – and also about paying attention to people too. People don't want to feel like they're a number, like, they're just some cog in the machine, no matter how big the list there, and it still needs to feel individual. So one thing that I like to do is on launch day or whatever, when the book's out and you'll go click and buy it, for anybody that clicks on the follow up with them after a day or so, and ask them to leave – actually [inaudible 00:29:50] because that's not long enough, just following up with them and ask them to leave a review. So maybe like waiting a week or something, giving them some time to get through it, because if you're like, hey, go buy the book, and then you ask them to leave a review right away, that's inauthentic, it's not genuine. Yeah, you can cook the numbers, go have fun with that, like, all day you want. You want to have those vanity numbers and look real good and swing your bleep around and go, go, go, go ham. But yeah, just follow up with people, but ask for a real review.

Josh Steimle:

So on your end with the...

Paul Sokol:

I am trying to think of other things that I've seen and done with this before.

Josh Steimle:

Going back to list building, is this something that you've already done to build up an audience for yourself, and how have you done it?

Paul Sokol:

Yeah, so, like I said, I've been collecting an email list for many years, if you go to paulsokol.me, you will see a very unimpressive landing page, which is intentional, it's designed to filter out people that are going to judge a book by its cover, because obviously, they're there for some reason. They've either read a blog post I've done or seen me [inaudible 00:30:53] or listened to a guest appearance or something, but I’ve been building that list since 2012, I think. And then, I’ve been writing my [inaudible 00:31:02] emails, I’m in volume nine, so I've been doing this for nine years. It's not a monthly thing at all. I mean, that's the ideal, but like, there's been years where I've written like two, because, you know, just reasons. And I’ve built that list up, and then, on social, same thing, before the book came out, I was releasing the campaign, well, actually, yeah, before the book came out, I was releasing a campaign of the month, because I worked for Infusionsoft. And so, once a month all this development effort, put it into the marketplace where people could download it, and then I would go hit every single Facebook group that had to do with Infusionsoft and say campaign of the month is live, and then, I’d even hype it up a day or two before, I’d be like, hey guys, this month's automated coffee run campaigns come and get excited, and then that way people know that it's coming. In retrospect, I should have absolutely built an email list for that, although it was a slippery slope, that was a company branded thing, I can't really build my personal brand with it, so I had to be super careful with that one. But, and then also showing up in groups too.
So in the spaces where, as an expert, showing up answering questions, knowing when to not be the smartest guy in the room and just let somebody else answer it, that's a big lesson too. Don't always be the – don't just run into your group and answer every single question, even if you can. Really save your answers for some of the best kind of ones. But it's really just kind of staying out there visible, and then, I've got a small boutique agency, and so, clients help too. They'll give social proof on the internet and testimonials and that kind of stuff, and they'll refer people. So the book is really just like an entry point at the end of the day. And for most authors, that's what it is, like, unless you're looking to be a publisher, unless you're like, I want to do the Hardy Boys for 2020, and then I want to release one book every single month, like Goosebumps style [inaudible 00:33:08] like, you're not going to be buying books or nothing, like a book really is just, it's almost just like – it's almost just something you do to attain certain levels of authority, like, at some point, any CEO or executive that's looking to make an impact in the world, they're going to make a charity. Right? And that's the thing to do as a CEO, and then they get involved with some kind of charity, like, I did it, but I was like, I don't know, powerful, that was in 2014, I was born in 1985, there's some math there. I wasn't like this old CEO trying to get my legacy going to do it, no, I saw that there's like a real problem, and like, fix it, not to say, not to disparage any other folks like that, but like, that's just a thing you do is you write a book, you get involved with a charity, you form a foundation, that kind of – it's just a thing you do. So it just lends more credibility. So publishing a book is absolutely not a means to an end. If you're looking to be an author for a living, publishing a book is not a means to an end, it's basically just like your next paycheck, because then you got to write your next book, and then your next book, and then your next book, but that's because you're choosing to do that, like, that's your job. Like being a professional athlete, yeah, maybe only working out half of the year playing sports, but like, that's your job, that's what you do.

Josh Steimle:

Cool. So, going back to email software for building your list, you've probably got experience with a bunch of these – a lot of people end up being exposed to MailChimp or ConvertKit as kind of their first stab at building a list. Do you have any recommendations? Are there ones that you like, ones that you don't like, what do you recommend for a first time author just starting to build their list?

Paul Sokol:

So for a first time author starting to build their list, I would not have said KEAP until recently, but they have their Grow product which is comparable to things like MailChimp and ConvertKit, even as far as pricing, I think it's like 50 bucks a month, and it's very easy to use. So if you're not a tech savvy person, it's very pragmatic, it's very simple, and you do have access to the advanced automation campaign builder. As far as the tools, again, and it's an operational conversation, and honestly, that's not really where to start, I would start with the experience that you want to create, because like, you need a form, and then you need a way to send some emails. Whoopee! Why? What are you doing in the first place? Why are they giving you their name and email? Why should they care? That's all stuff you want to figure out way before you're starting to figure out, what toolkit should I use, that's like building a house, but before you even have the blueprint, you're like, I want this washer and dryer. Okay, cool, great, where do you want your kitchen? So use whatever tool works for you, use the tool where you can collect leads, and you can send out some kinds of emails. Ideally, you're going to want something that can at least count down to a date.
So I know that things like MailChimp, there’s ways to set up automation, you can count down to a date, if you create a custom date field, and then you populate that for them, you can create automation for that. Any modern automation system is going to be able to count down with respect to a date. Even if we are doing a chatbot, I'm pretty sure you can do the flow sequences or whatever they call them that are counting down. So if anything, I'd say, that's probably the most important technical constraint is make sure that whatever you're capturing, actually, there are two separate things, the thing you're capturing with does not have to be the thing that you're emailing to. So if there's like this thing you really like because of reasons, and it doesn't connect to your email system, okay, well, maybe that's not the end of the world, maybe there's a connector, maybe there's some other way to do it, maybe you have to manually take the people to fill this out, and just manually start it in MailChimp, and like, whoopee, that's cool, that keeps your finger on the pulse, once or twice a day or however many times a day you're putting someone in the database, you get that dopamine hit, you're feeling good, you're building your list. But that's part of the experience, when you're figuring it out, oh okay, I can't connect this form to my email system or whatever. All right, well, I need to develop the habit and the procedure for here's exactly how I check for new subscribers, and here's exactly how I put the new subscribers into my system. There we go. And now, you can even VA that or pay some board high school kid 15 bucks an hour, 10 bucks an hour to put that stuff in, pay your kid, hey, load these emails in here, I’ll teach you how to do it, and I’ll buy you that bike you want, or, I don't know.
The tool is so unimportant, like, it really is. That's like, what kind of hammer should I use to hang this picture? I don't know. How about you figure out where you want to hang the picture and like, do you like this picture in the first place, is this where you want to in the room? Cool. You figured all that stuff out now. Cool. Go waste your time at Home Depot, spending 30 minutes buying one hammer. Have at it, because you're going to swing it for 30 seconds and now your picture's up. Yeah, I don't know, I guess, I'm just trying to keep focusing on the wrong part of the conversation, that's why I’m writing this book.

Josh Steimle:

Strategy first...

Paul Sokol:

We collapse. It's not even that. Well, strategy first, yeah. But it's about uncollapsing stuff, like, let's have a marketing conversation, what tools should I use, like, no, if we are having a marketing conversation, operations either needs to be called out or not in the conversation at all. Otherwise, you're just going to get confused. And sometimes, it's unavoidable, but like, you got to have at least, have a distinct in your head, or, are we talking about operationally, this form on this side, are you just saying, like, for their journey, this is what [inaudible 00:39:00] on the form, that kind of stuff. So yeah, there's a lot to unpack. And, I mean, it makes sense why a lot of people aren't successful, because there's a lot going on. And if I hadn't seen as many businesses as I had, I’d probably be in the – I know, it'd be in the exact same spot, because I've got mental health issues myself. So like, there's no way I'd be able to figure this out on my own at all. It's through the experiences of everybody else, and all my clients that I helped, that I see, like, again, all of the stuff. And I got to share this with people, because like, if you want to be like a speed metal band for a living, you can do that. Just understand your offer, our live shows, your merch, and then I would recommend some kind of a subscription membership, so you have predictable revenue. $6.66 a month, I don't know, get access to some membership site and exclusive demo rehearsals. Who knows? But now you have predictable revenue every month, that 500 fans paying you that. That buys all the rehearsal space you need, that buys touring stuff, that buys, if you want to have merch, can buy merch and hold inventory. Even that's not even necessary, if you want to print merch as an author, just do print on demand, hook up a Shopify to – hook up something like Shopify to something like Printful. And just, when someone buys it online, it goes to a print on demand service, you don't need inventory, you don't need fulfillment by Amazon, just like it would all directly. Don't be a middleman, I guess. There'll be a middleman industry, be the actual end point. We're actually doing that right now. Our band is going to tour, and we need to print some shirts, and we're actually cutting out the shirt vendor because they just keep jerking us around and giving us bad prices, and they won't answer our questions. I'm like, hey, listen, I can send you shirts wholesale, how much to just print them, and they're not wanting to entertain that conversation. And I’m like, this is Felicia, I’m going to go build my own print on demand store, and you can rip off other bands, I don't know. [inaudible 00:40:59] showing through.

Josh Steimle:

A lot of discussion...

Paul Sokol:

I know, lots done [inaudible 00:41:01] it's almost like a therapy session. I don't know. Hopefully, this is entertaining. I mean, leave a comment or share it or something, if this is doing it for you. I don't know.

Josh Steimle:

This is good. I can't wait for the whole book to come out so we can have you on again, and we might need to do a longer episode really on all the stuff [inaudible 00:41:21] in the book.

Paul Sokol:

Yeah, we can do in multiple parts. In fact, I did that for, it was called Sold out Secrets. There is a friend of mine, had an internet radio station, heavy metal station; and every Tuesday at seven o'clock Pacific, I’d call in, and I would spend 5-10 minutes talking about some kind of marketing tip or business tip for bands. And one, we did an eight-week series on a business [inaudible 00:41:48] where week one was just a general overview, and then the next seven weeks we're talking about all seven of them. So that's another thing that you can do too, is, as an author, you don't need to be coming up with new stuff all the time. That's the thing, write one really, really, really good book, and then spend a decade just telling people what you wrote. That's what I learned. That was one of the first things I learned when I started working at Infusionsoft, like, these big successful folks, it's like, they just write a book and then talk about it for the next 10 years, and they build products around it, and they build certifications around it, and they build other people up around that methodology and use it, that's all it is. Again, the book is just a means to an end. So you got to have that long term vision. So as far as my long term vision, writing book is in alignment with that. I want to be like that, that silent celebrity behind the scenes of stuff where like all roads point to [inaudible 00:42:37] because a lot of them do. There's a lot of really successful people in the space that I’ve personally worked with and coached and mentored. But like, I don't want that to necessarily be public, I’m not, again, look, how cool I am. It's more just like, no, I’m the reason this guy uses the campaign builder, like, none of those campaign models that that big influencer's using I built those in 2015 for him, yeah. So this book is just more of that, and I want to get out of that pigeonhole and help more, just any business, if you believe it's viable, and you can crunch the numbers and see it working, you just have to know what the parts are. A lot of businesses, they'll be like trying to make it human, but forget the skeletal system, just because they didn't know. It was like, you got to have [inaudible 00:43:27] like, you did everything else, but you forgot the bonus here. Now, you've set up a business.

Josh Steimle:

Paul, this has been great, and I think we're at a good place to wrap things up. Where's the best place for people to connect with you and find you?

Paul Sokol:

So I think for right now, the best place is probably going to be either on Facebook or LinkedIn. So on Facebook,, you can find me facebook.com/underthehair. And then, on LinkedIn, just search me, Paul Sokol. And then, as I mentioned earlier, if you go to paulsokol.me, there's a very unimpressive landing page, and join that to get on the email list. I’ll even send you some of my electronic music if you're a weird nerd like that. And surely, I’ll be talking about my book and whatnot when that comes out. But those emails that are really like hardcore marketing, that's why I don't send them too often, because I can't just force an issue. I have to be like, oh yeah, that's a real meaty, juicy, like, yeah, people need to know this.

Josh Steimle:

Cool. Final question, favorite metal band? Or top three?

Paul Sokol:

Okay, that'll work. I love Immortal. I love [inaudible 00:44:43] and then will be another [inaudible 00:44:47] I listen to all the time. I mean, it's more of an industrial metal, but [inaudible 00:44:58] from Finland. Those guys ever come anywhere near America, I’m going to go there and be front stage, front row, and just causing problems, good problems, but man, yeah, go listen to [inaudible 00:45:11] on Spotify right now. Everybody likes it. It's like heavy metal you can dance to. Even people that don't like heavy metal, I remember like my girlfriend in college, she's like, oh it's cool, I can get [inaudible 00:45:21] I can work out to this, my mom's like, oh, this is really cool, it's got the beat. I’m like, cool. So there you go, here's three bands you'll probably never heard of, look them all up on Spotify and listen to them, they're great.

Josh Steimle:

We'll look them up, we'll link to them in the show notes, we'll spread the word. All right, Paul, thanks so much for being on the Published Author Podcast here today.

Paul Sokol:

You're welcome. Thanks for having me, Josh.

Josh Steimle:

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