Tyler J. McCall guests on the 275th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Tyler is an Instagram Marketing Strategist and Coach for entrepreneurs who want to build and grow their business online. With social media being at the forefront of so many businesses, Tyler shares his experience dealing with burnout and how entrepreneurs can use social media more intentionally.
Take a peek at our conversation:
- Why Tyler founded onlinebusinessowner.com.
- How his nonprofit careers kickstarted his entrepreneurial endeavors and how he became the go-to Instagram marketing expert.
- Should you leave the community you’ve become accustomed to?
- How to find the right coach and community for you, your business, and your values.
- The process of healing from a previous business and starting another.
- Why it’s a good idea to unlearn old beliefs before jumping into something new.
- How to deal with harassment online – actions and steps to take.
- Repairing your reputation online – is it possible?
- The double edged sword of social media.
- How do you know if you’re burned out + how to fix it.
- The future of social media and how to not lose yourself in it.
- The potential of podcasting and the forgotten blog… is it still a thing?
- A guide to unplugging from social media.
- The reality of starting a media company and how to monetize when your offer is free.
- The process of building your writer’s muscle.
- How to regain trust in yourself and your gut feeling.
- Building a small but mighty team for business growth.
If you want to use social media with intention and avoid burnout, tune into the episode.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob Marsh: Social media. We’ve had a lot of people on the show to talk about their approach to Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. It’s almost as if you can’t build a copywriting business these days without spending serious time on social media. And while that may not be strictly true, you can, but it’s becoming less and less common. Our guest for today’s podcast is Tyler J. McCall. Tyler’s gone through a bit of a transition when it comes to using social media for his business over the last few months. It used to be the main focus and now it’s not. And if you struggle with social media as a business building tool, or you’re interested in using it in a more sustainable way, you’ll want to stick around for this interview. Tyler also shared how he’s reinvented his entire business over the last year, how to deal with trolls and people that are harassing you online and overcoming burnout. Like we said, you’re not going to want to miss this one.
Kira Hug: Before we dive into our interview with Tyler, the sponsor for this week’s episode is the Copywriter Think Tank. It’s our mastermind coaching program that helps copywriters dive deeper and explore ideas they didn’t think were possible and act on them. We’re introducing two new coaches inside the Think Tank who focus on systems and mindset, so members have the opportunity to ask for support from multiple coaches. If you are looking to create a new offer or program, product, scale your income, maybe launch a book, maybe launch a podcast, the Think Tank could be your next step to making it happen. If you want more information, head over to copywriterthinktank.com to learn more. All right, let’s get into the interview and learn how Tyler ended up as the founder of onlinebusinessowner.com.
Tyler J. McCall: I’ll give you the shortest version possible. I left my nonprofit career back in 2015 to start my own online business after having a bunch of side hustles before that. And the first business I started was a marketing agency with a really close friend. And that’s where I really started learning about online business and running my own business full time. And eventually that marketing agency, we started specializing in Instagram marketing, and then I became a go-to Instagram marketing for local businesses, and then I started coaching and consulting. And then in 2017, I took all that experience and knowledge and all of my experience from the nonprofit world. I was also a political and community organizer before that, and put that into my first membership site called Follower to Fan Society. And at the time of recording this episode, beginning of 2022, Follower to Fan Society is almost over.
We have just a few more months left of delivering content and coaching in that community and then we’re closing it forever. So a four year old membership which, I don’t know about y’all, feels like, I don’t know, decades in the online business world, with how fast things change and people change their businesses. But that’s what I’ve done for the past four years. I’ve been an Instagram marketing strategist in the online space. I really enjoyed that. I worked specifically with online business owners, creatives, makers, artists were really the folks that we served through Follower to Fan. And in 2020 and 2021 everything kind of changed in the world and a lot changed for me personally, as far as what was really important to me and what I wanted to do in my business. So for the past couple of years, I’ve been digging through all of that and figuring out the next step
And I left a coaching community I’ve been part of for a number of years which had turned really toxic. And I left that in 2020, and I’ve just been spending the past couple years kind of healing and learning new things, and unlearning a lot of stuff. And in October 2021, we launched our new business, onlinebusinessowner.com. And I have to say, it’s the happiest I’ve ever been in my business. It brings me the most joy of anything I’ve ever done and I feel like it’s the best use of my skills. And this is something I could see myself doing for a long time, whereas things before I was just kind of doing them until I didn’t have to do them anymore. So that’s a little, the two minute version.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. That was like a beautiful table of contents for the, it feels like the whole episode as this thing unfolds, not even knowing what we’re going to talk about yet. I’m just like, “Okay, lots of places to jump in.” So before we get to the most recent stuff and that’s probably going to be the most interesting stuff, I’d love to back up just to when you were starting your own marketing agency, because so many of our listeners are starting their own thing. They’re finding their feet. Tell us a little bit about what was going on and why you made the steps that you did, the first couple of clients that you connected with. What was that whole process like?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. I love that question because I didn’t leave my full-time nonprofit marketing job until I had an established roster of clients, which meant for about eight months, I was burning the wick at both ends and also apologies to the YMCA where I used to work, but my afternoons every now and then may have been spent on a little bit of my own business. And I got my first client actually, it was a gift shop in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, where I was living at the time. And I was a customer of this gift shop. I had gone in there for years. I would go buy gifts and cards. One of my side hustles before my marketing agency is, I had a homemade room and linen fragrance spray that I made called Mr. McCall’s Fine Fragrances, which I made at home myself.
And they were the first store to ever carry my handmade fragrance company brand that I created. So, they carried that in the store and I had built a relationship with them over years of being a customer. And I had just walked in one day and said, “Hey, I love what you all are doing. I love your store. I know people are obsessed with your brand, but your Instagram makes me really sad. Would you pay me to manage your Instagram account?” And they said, “Oh, sure. What would that look like?” And I was like, “$300 a month. I’ll post for you five times a week. I’ll come in a few times a month. I’ll take photos with my iPhone. I’ll write your captions. I’ll do the hashtags and I’ll do your Instagram for you.” And they were like, “Great, fine.”
And I ran that agency. After I left my nonprofit job, I ran that agency for about three years and they stayed on until the very end. They were my very last client. They were no longer paying $300 a month at the very end, we had upgraded some things, but they were my first client. And from there, I just used my connections and relationships and started getting more and more clients, and getting people on six month retainer contracts to do content creation, management, blogging, newsletter writing. Also, here’s the other secret Rob and Kira, at this point I actually didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was fully making it up as I went along, but that’s how I started. And I just built an agency from there.
Kira Hug: I want to jump forward in time to 2020, 2021, when you said that you really wanted to shift and focus on what was important to you. You left a community at that time. It sounds like that was a really important step for you. Can you talk a little bit more about that stage and what steps do you take when you realize this doesn’t feel right, I’m not in the right places, I’m not doing the right thing, how do you start to move forward from there?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. It’s a really good question. There were a few things that were happening for me at that stage. One being, I realized that the values that I had, my personal values, the values in my business, were not aligned with the values in the community that I had been a part of and this coach that I had learned from. And at that point I was in a high ticket mastermind, spending $30,000 a year to be in this community. And 2020 created so much opportunity for people to kind of think about what was important for them. And for me, it was really realizing that I had totally mismatched values around equity and inclusion, and racial justice, and issues that are really important to me and have been my entire life. So the first thing for me was just realizing that and then looking for some support from other mentors and peers, people that I really trusted to help me navigate that situation.
And then, I think one of the most important things from that time and really an important lesson was actually not just slinking away and leaving in this kind of secretive way. It’s also not making a huge, big blow up explosion either, just being very confident in my beliefs and values and saying like, “Hey, this doesn’t work for me anymore. I’m no longer going to collaborate with you.” And for me, it actually, the first step was ending a long-term affiliate partnership that I had with this coach. I was a top affiliate for a number of years. And part of that process, which I haven’t talked about much publicly, and walking away from that, we had already planned to be a part of an affiliate promotion that summer. We had already spent tens of thousands of dollars on copywriting and design, and ads, and bonus creation.
We were ready for the launch. And because we had anticipated in the past, that had brought hundreds of thousands of dollars, half a million dollars in revenue into our business and we walked away from all of that. And that really required us to shift everything and shift directions in our business and figure out where that lost money was going to come from, and all of that. But looking back I don’t regret any of that. I’m so glad we did it, but it was definitely not an easy decision. I don’t know if I answered your question Kira, but it’s a little rambly, but there we are.
Rob Marsh: I would love to dig in Tyler, to that process of identifying the right coach. We get this question a lot where people are like, okay, how do I find a mentor? How do I connect with the right person? And I have my ideas of what that is, but especially having gone through this process where you disconnected from somebody who probably had a positive impact on your business for a while.
Tyler J. McCall: Sure.
Rob Marsh: You found out that the values weren’t aligned. But how do you find that next person? How do you identify them and say, yes, this is the next person who’s going to help me take the next step?
Tyler J. McCall: It’s funny you ask that Rob, because I feel like I’m very deep in that right now. And I don’t fully know who that person is or where to find them, or who those people are. I’m definitely in a period of kind of searching for that myself. I will say that what I’m looking for these days when I’m thinking of coaches or people I want to learn from, people that I want to work with or collaborate with, when I’m looking for people that I want to connect with from a kind of peer to peer perspective, I really want to understand the behind the scenes and the under the hood of what they’re doing and what they’re building. And that feels really important to me now. The other thing that’s really important more so than ever is actually paying attention to my gut and my intuition.
I spent so much time, especially in that coaching environment, there were so many things that would happen, conversations that would happen with the coach, things that would happen in calls, things that would happen in-person events where I was deeply uncomfortable and I felt like this isn’t right, this isn’t right for me, I don’t want to be here, yet I stayed and I didn’t listen to my intuition and now it’s very different. I feel like I’m probably a bit more, I’m probably quicker now to say no to things than ever before. And that may be to my detriment at a certain point, but I’m still searching for that and figuring that out myself.
Kira Hug: You mentioned a healing process. Was the healing process connected to the change in your business and kind of shutting down one business and starting the next business or is that disconnected?
Tyler J. McCall: It was really connected. And there were a few things, and most of this happened last year in 2021. And there were, I think there were really three, I think there were probably three main things that were going on. Number one, and most of this has happened in a therapy setting with a trained mental health professional. Number one, I realized that I had a lot to unlearn. I had some deep programming from the coaching community I had come out of. Honestly, looking back now, I would say that it’s a cult-like environment in the way that the community was being led and how people were expected to act in that community. So I had a lot of deep programming to do there. I still am doing that in therapy. A lot of that had to do around self trust, self doubt, trusting myself to make the best decision, those types of things.
The second thing that was going on was severe burnout, just to the point of physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion. I couldn’t be creative. I couldn’t create anything. I couldn’t write, which has always been a huge part of my business and just feeling so burnt out. And then the last thing that happened in 2021, for the first time I experienced relentless harassment from an online troll, which I never experienced before that lasted for weeks, that included verbal and physical threats. That included content created that was all lies about me on YouTube, on blogs, on podcasts, on Instagram, people rallying behind this person, losing clients, refund requests and all of that kind of stuff. And that was honestly just such a traumatic experience. And because of that, that was definitely kind of a catalyst for me, I ended up taking most of 2021 off.
I intended to take a three month social media sabbatical during the summer of 2021. And I went off of social media, my husband and I moved from North Carolina to Chicago. And I realized that I was so deeply burnt out. I ended up taking most of the rest of the year off my business. And I still haven’t returned to social media the way that I did before. That just really caused me to kind of evaluate what I want my business and my marketing to look like.
Rob Marsh: Holly cow, that’s heavy.
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. Yes.
Rob Marsh: I can see why a lot of changes there. Let’s talk about the experience with the troll. How do you deal with that, when somebody’s coming after you like that? Did you just shut off, ignore it? Were you tempted to respond? What was going on that even made it so you could deal with this whole thing?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. I learned so many lessons from that and I’ve been thinking recently, I need to document that somewhere. My friend Amy Porterfield just recorded a podcast episode about this experience too, because she and I were both experiencing this from the same person for an extended period of time. And in the beginning I chose to engage with the person. I thought that would be the best course of action. And then after I talked about it with people I trusted, my team, my dearest friends, my husband, they were all like, “What are you doing? Don’t engage with this person. It’s not going to lead to anything positive. They have some stuff going on and you are just kind of caught in their world.” And when I pulled back from this person, me pulling back is what caused the harassment and trolling to intensify.
So a big lesson learned from that is to not engage in those situations. Eventually we blocked that person on all of our profiles. I had to engage my attorney for conversations around all of that. And it was a big energy, time and financial drain on our business to have to navigate that for several months. But the biggest lesson I learned is, do not engage. And also this person had never been a customer of mine. They weren’t part of my community. They weren’t on my mailing list. They didn’t listen to my podcast. They never bought a single product of mine. And at the end of the day, their opinion about me really didn’t matter because they weren’t even a part of the community that I had been nurturing online for years and years.
Kira Hug: Yeah. And you’d mentioned that you lost some clients during that time, and I can imagine there are listeners who have dealt with something similar and maybe they’re losing clients or they feel like their reputation is taking a hit and they’ve worked so hard to build it. Besides the emotional trauma involved, how do you repair a reputation or how do you kind of deal with that side of it when you’re in the middle of it and beyond, and afterwards?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. For me, I was very fortunate during that time that there was a lot of, kind of back-channeling going on in my community. What we realized with this person is that when people would disengage with this person, they would maybe unfollow them on social media. Then this person would notice and then the person that had unfollowed them would then get swept into kind of their tirades and the things they were saying about them. So a lot of people, what was really difficult is no one around me who knew me and trusted me, and understood me, could speak out publicly in support of me because then they were going to get swept up into all of this as well. Eventually this person totally fizzled out. They’re just not even, I don’t even think they’re online anymore.
I’m not seeking them out so I don’t know for sure. But for me, a lot of it was having these conversations behind the scenes, indirect messages with people, learning that there were a lot of people who were, they didn’t believe what this person was saying. They knew it was completely untrue. They knew who I really was and what my values were, and that those had really stood for themselves. And it’s so interesting, those people were doing the damage control on my behalf without me ever really having to do anything. I never spoke out publicly about this person when this was happening. And I think it’s just a real testament to building a strong community and nurturing people, and having people who regardless of what is said, people who know you and who trust that they know you and your intentions, and the good that you’re doing in the world. And those people were the ones who were standing up for me and making sure that as these things were being said online, that other people knew that those things weren’t true.
Rob Marsh: We are huge believers in community and I think that’s a really important point. So my next question is, okay, let’s say I’m listening and I don’t yet have that community or I haven’t found the right community. Do you have any tips for curating your own community, finding the right community that matches with your values, that gives you that kind of support that you need, or the coaching, the mentoring, the peer support?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah, for sure. I mean, there are so many great communities that folks can find and join online, memberships. I don’t know if you’re a copywriter, the Copywriter’s Club. I mean, there’s so many places you can go and find people who are doing what you’re doing or building what you’re building. And I think finding those communities is great and really important. I think the real value in joining those communities is, and don’t come for me when I say this you all, it’s not necessarily the value in the curriculum or the coaching calls or anything like that, it is finding other people in those spaces that you can connect with and that you can start to do business alongside. It’s really interesting, I just had a call last week with someone who has been, she was one of our first customers. She was actually in the very first batch of the first 80 people that joined our membership in 2017.
And over time, she joined our team as a community moderator. And I was just talking with her a few weeks ago because we’re winding down our membership. And I was just saying, “Hey, this is our plan. So we’ll compensate you through this date and then we’re going to wind down the community,” and all of that. And she was talking, she’s like, “Oh yeah,” she was talking about the community. And she said, “Yeah, there’s this group of us, we all met in Follower To Fan back in 2017 and we’re still in contact. We’re all doing these monthly challenges together, submitting ourselves for artist contests and pitching ourselves for commissions and things like that.”
And I’m like, “Wait a minute, these people you met online, in a Facebook group four years ago? She was like, “Yeah, we’ve stayed in touch all this time and built our businesses with one another.” And that just blew my mind that it came out of something I just made up myself in my home office four years ago. So I don’t know. I feel like that’s a secret look for the communities within the communities. That’s where there’s a lot of opportunity.
Kira Hug: How has your view of online business changed over the last few years as you’ve dealt with so much? Like leaving the cult-like community, dealing with extreme burnout, harassment by a troll. You’ve dealt with so many things, when you’ve walked away from that, what have you taken with you that’s really important?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. Number one, online business is an incredible opportunity for people to create something and do it on their own terms. So no matter what, I still fully believe that and that’s why I have this kind of business. The second lesson learned through all of this is that there’s no one right way to do business. A lot of what you see online and what’s presented through marketing and messaging, and products, is that this way is the right way and it’s just not true. There are over a million and one right ways to run your online business. And I think what’s most important is finding one that resonates the most with you. I would say another thing I’ve really learned is that your business has to, I think it’s just really important to go back to the reason you started your business.
And people talk about this all the time, but for me, I started my business for two main reasons. One, I wanted more freedom and flexibility in my life. And number two, I was working a job where I felt my skillset was never being fully utilized. So, if I’m going to run my own business, and that’s the reason why I wanted to start this business, then I need to make sure I’m consistently protecting my freedom and flexibility, and that I am fully utilizing the skillset that I have. So that’s been a big learning as well, and the last thing I’ll say, this was my biggest takeaway from 2021 and this whole process of healing from burnout and launching a new business. And if you’re listening to this episode and you are in that place right now of maybe hating your business, resenting your business, wanting to pivot in your business, I want you to come back to what I’m saying here.
You can’t create the next step, you can’t figure out your next move when you’re operating from a place of deep pain and burnout and overwhelm. What I found is time and time again, I kind of reached these points in my business where I was frustrated with my business and I wanted to pivot and go a different direction. And I would figure out my next move from that place of frustration and overwhelm. And what I realized as I repeated that pattern year after year, after year, is that I was simply recreating the same environment every single time. So what I had to do, and I’m very fortunate I was able to do this, I know not everyone is, but if you’re in a position to do this, what I had to do was shut off all of the inputs and all of the noise.
So for me, that was going off social. I had to shut out as much of the work as possible. So for me, that looked like going offline and really being unavailable and not creating anything or selling anything new, and just running my business, operating off of reserves, not making income month over month, running a negative profit month over month, but just so the business could sustain itself. So I could go away and go offline, and by go away, I mean, go to my bedroom or go to the coffee shop on the corner and figure out my next move from a place of rest and wholeness instead of from a place of frustration and overwhelm.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I like this. And obviously these are the things you’re doing in your business to get through that overwhelm. Are there other things that you were doing in your personal life? You mentioned the move, obviously support from others that also helped you get through that burnout, changes that you made there?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. I mean, I’m a huge proponent of therapy. I think most people need to be in therapy. I think pretty much any entrepreneur or business owner I’ve ever met could benefit from therapy in some form or the other. So that has been deeply important to me in this whole process. Being really communicative with my husband through this whole process and having his buy-in I think. I am the sole breadwinner in our family. The business provides for me and for my husband, and our household, and lifestyle. So having him on board, being able to say to him like, “Hey, I may need to take an extended period of time off of work. Are you okay if we tap into our savings? Are you okay if we tap into money that we’ve set aside for other things so I don’t have to work for some period of time to figure out what I want to do next?”
Having that communication was really important. And honestly, just going for walks and being really present in the community where I live. I live in an incredible neighborhood here in Chicago. It’s a super queer neighborhood, which is really important to me to have that representation. So just being really present in my neighborhood, being out and about, going to the farmer’s market, going on walks, that was really healing for me. And also doing that without AirPods in, without the headphones, without the podcast.
Kira Hug: What, you do that?
Tyler J. McCall: Yes, without the NPR News update playing. That’s the other thing, I kind of stopped watching the news. That was helpful too. I got my New York Times subscription and just checked that out every morning. That was really helpful too.
Kira Hug: Walking around without ear pods. You’re talking craziness now.
Rob Marsh: I didn’t realize you didn’t do that anymore.
Kira Hug: Can you do that?
Tyler J. McCall: I know, you can do it. Yes.
Kira Hug: Oh, my goodness.
Tyler J. McCall: Going to the grocery store or Target without headphones in, oh my God. It’s amazing.
Kira Hug: And actually talking to other people, what?
Tyler J. McCall: Yes.
Kira Hug: Well, I’m on team therapy all the way. I tell all of my family members regularly how much they all need therapy. So I am that obnoxious person who reminds them how much they need it. And so I can’t overlook the sabbatical. And I really want to hear about what you did during the sabbatical and how it felt to unplug from the matrix and to not be on social media. And you mentioned being out and about, and going to coffee shops and feeling creative again. But can you just share more details about what that was like day in and day out and how it affected you? And most of us can’t even imagine, and we aren’t quite there yet how to unplug from this system that we’re all part of.
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. It was, I think to this point in my life, I think it was one of the most, I don’t want to oversell it, but it was honestly one of the most impactful things I’ve ever done. I have been, sorry, I’m 33 years old. I’ve been on social media since social media was a thing. I mean, at middle school, I was writing on my Xanga blog, in high school it was Myspace. College, Facebook had just come out when I entered college. Every platform that launched I’ve been on it since the platform was created and social media has always been a part of my life. It was a part of my work in the nonprofit, doing community organizing. And then I started a business where it’s all I had done. I realized I had not taken time off of social media, away from it completely, my entire adult life.
And that now,thinking back about it was, felt deeply like it wasn’t the right thing for me. I don’t know, I just didn’t like it. I didn’t like who I had become. I didn’t like how I was being stimulated by social media. I didn’t really care for the need to feel like I had to always be on. I really became really frustrated and resentful with this idea of I had to kind of be this dancing bear on the internet to make money for my business, and it just wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. So for me, it was very easy. I kind of reached this point of like, “You know what, I got to cut it off.” It was very easy for me to delete the apps from my phone to have someone, actually my marketing manager changed my passwords so I couldn’t get into the accounts and just to not be on social media.
The thing I’ll say is that, and folks who are listening and you’re thinking about doing this, first of all, I have a three episode series on my podcast, the Online Business Show, it’s called the Sabbatical Series, where I walk through the lessons I learned, how to plan your own. And then I talk more about our relationship with social media as creators and entrepreneurs. So, you can check that out on the Online Business Show. But for me, I had to get really clear on my reason for why I wanted to do it. And I think that’s really important for anyone that wants to do something similar to this. My reason why was to cut off all of the inputs and all of the noise that was distracting me in my business and in my life.
All the messages saying I wasn’t doing enough, I wasn’t making enough, I wasn’t creating enough, just to shut all of that off. So, I didn’t care about still being on my phone, I just wanted to be off of social media if that makes sense. Some folks they may want to just not be on their phone as much. So I think their approach may be a bit different, so that looked like I was still on my phone, I was just playing a word game, I was playing Sudoku. I was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle. I was reading the news on the news app on my phone. I was reading a book on my phone. Because so much of social media is muscle memory, so I was still picking up my phone, I was just doing something different on my phone. And then when I wanted news or information about what was happening in the world or on television, my husband and I are huge reality television fans.
So when I wanted to see what the latest gossip was about the Real Housewives or wherever, I had to go seek that out intentionally. So a few things that have kind of stayed over from that. First of all, I don’t really have social media on my personal phone, I have it on my work phone, which lives in my home office. I actually really only get on social media when I’m sitting at my desktop computer, which feels really great. And that’s been kind of a holdover. And I also, I’m just really okay with posting and then logging off, which is totally different than what I used to do, even what I used to teach, is stay on, engage, start conversation, respond to people.
Now I just log on Facebook, Facebook’s actually kind of my platform of choice these days for my business. So it feels like it’s, I don’t know, 2014 all over again, but I’ll just open up Facebook, post something and then just close out and I don’t read the comments or respond to anything. And that just feels good. That’s what I want to do right now. So that’s what I find to be working.
Rob Marsh: I definitely can’t fault you for that approach, because I am not the most engaging person on social media myself. But let’s talk a little bit more about some of what’s going on badly on social media, probably particularly Instagram, TikTok, some of these platforms. How are we actually, in some ways, damaging our business or damaging our own health when we’re engaging in the ways that so many people have been teaching?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. Oh my goodness. I have so many thoughts. Let me try and put them in a nice little package with a bow on them. I have some concerns; I have some fears about kind of, where we are right now at social. One of my concerns is that these platforms are never going to stop changing. I think we kind of got to a point and as I said, I’ve been an Instagram marketer for a long time. I’ve been on Instagram since it was created. We kind of had, we had reached different points on Instagram where the app was kind of just steady. We knew what was going to work. Stories launching, and I think that was 2016, 2017, was a big game changer on Instagram. And then we just, Instagram kind of stayed the same. And then Instagram live, IG TV was kind of a thing, but it didn’t really change the format that much.
And then reels happened. And I think it’s really important for people to consider, especially as business owners and creators, that the platforms, the way that these platforms are working and introducing new features, new tools, things like that, they’re not introducing these things to make your life easier as a creator. I think a lot of times we think about it that way like, oh, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, whatever they’re doing this for me as a content creator. That is never really their end goal, their goal, their ultimate goal is to maintain users attention on the platform. There was actually, I wrote about this recently for our Online Business Digest. In December, there was a leaked document out of TikTok’s headquarters in China and it was called TikTok Algo 101. And it was a step by step breakdown of how the TikTok algorithm actually functions.
And it was written for the layperson, it’s kind of a non-technical document. And in it, it says, our primary objective is to increase user activity and increase, something around the domination of users or domination of this type of content in the world. They are measuring how effective their strategy is, their algorithm is based on how many people they’re getting from around the world to get on this platform and then how long they’re staying on the platform. So, I think it’s kind of, it feels a little bit like, I don’t know, matrixy-conspiracy theory, whatever, but I think it’s important to think about the goal that these platforms have. So as a creator, as a business owner on these platforms, you’re playing into this. So that’s something that’s really important to consider and to realize that anytime, I’m a big believer, especially Facebook or Meta as the parent company is now called, anytime they’re coming out with something that seems like the goal here is to make it better for creators, make it better for customers.
Many of these platforms are doing that preemptively because in the past year we’ve had a Facebook whistleblower come out. We’ve had Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, we’ve had them sitting in front of congressional panels testifying about the platforms. The Washington Post did a massive expose last year called the Facebook Files. If you haven’t listened to that podcast or read it, I encourage you to go do so, where there is there’s proof where Facebook knew about all this harm they were causing around disinformation, human trafficking, child trafficking, impacting the mental health of teen girls around body image causing an increase in self harm and suicide.
All of these things and the platforms knew about it and they’ve done nothing to change it. And that is deeply troubling to me as someone that has built a business that depends on these platforms. So we’re not doing that anymore in our business. We’re shifting what our business depends on and how we build traffic and how we build community, and where we create content. And I feel like for a lot of business owners, we’re going to have to do that. I think these platforms are really getting away from themselves and they’re getting away from us as creators and entrepreneurs.
Kira Hug: We’re halfway through the interview. So let’s cut in and talk about a couple of ideas worth emphasizing. So Rob, what did you write down? What did you underline from this part of the conversation?
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I’ve got a bunch of notes, but start with the idea or what happened with Tyler shutting down his existing business to do something new. And the idea here is that change is pretty constant in our business, whether it’s shutting down a niche or a product, or a packaged service, or moving from one thing to the next is pretty common. But doing it in such a drastic way as Tyler has, literally shutting down something that’s been supporting him for the last four years and completely reinventing his business, that’s pretty drastic and kind of an interesting story to hear. I mean, just emphasizing the idea that change happens. And for some of us, maybe we want to do the same thing, shift dramatically from a full-time job to writing as a freelancer or shifting the kinds of clients that we work, or the niche that we work in. It’s all doable and Tyler’s proving that it can be done well.
Kira Hug: Yeah. And Tyler has such an incredible story that he shared with us about severe burnout. I mean, this is not a little bit of burnout, this is severe. Taking a year off, I mean, being harassed, leaving communities. So much happened for Tyler. And the cool thing is that we can all take some lessons away from it, even if we’re not dealing with that type of burnout. Maybe it’s just we’re feeling like burnout is approaching, but not quite there. Or maybe we know some things aren’t working in our business, but we don’t have to dramatically change it.
I still could pull lessons from it. And I think one of the lessons that Tyler reminded me of is just that online business is an incredible opportunity for people to create something and do it on their own terms. And it’s cool to hear him say that, especially after coming out of a couple really hard years and to really just remind himself and remind us that there are still, there is a reason that we stepped into this online business space and there are some really big benefits that we don’t have to lose as we shift our business. Maybe parts of the previous business didn’t work, but we can figure out what will work better moving forward.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I think it’s interesting, a lot of what Tyler is doing, the shifts that he’s making is because he’s realized that some of what he was doing before isn’t aligned with the values that he has today. And so that’s another kind of change that happens, moving from one coach who’s no longer right for your business. He freely admitted, it helped him grow to a point and then when he realized the values here aren’t working for me, he’s moving on. And so there’s this process of learning and then sometimes unlearning things that we do in our business in order to make the right next step. And that takes guts, paying attention to that feeling, that thing that’s happening inside your chest and it’s bothering you just a little bit, but you’re kind of letting it go on and on. It takes guts to answer that and to stop and say, “okay, this is no longer a fit for me. It’s time for me to do something different. It’s time for me to move on or to make a change”. So I admire Tyler for doing that.
Kira Hug: Yeah, me too. And I like that Tyler mentioned, there’s no one right way to do business. And that really speaks to me because you and I speak to hundreds of copywriters. And so we’ve learned firsthand that there is no one right way. There is no one path to achieving any type of success and even success is different for everyone. So, I like what Tyler’s doing with the platform he’s building and it also reminds me of why you and I do what we do with the Copywriter Club. It’s because it’s not follow the way that Kira’s doing it or follow the way that Rob is doing it. It’s let’s just share a bunch of voices and experiences and then you can pick and choose what works best for you. And it’s a reminder that there is no one right way to do it.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, exactly. And one thing that I was reminded of as I was listening back to Tyler talk about leaving this coaching community that he had been part of, is that you can learn from people that you disagree with or that you are not aligned with, but ultimately that conflict will surface and you may decide to move away. But when we collect people, when we invite people into our community, we realize that people are coming from a variety of different life experiences, different belief systems, and there is going to be conflict. There are going to be disagreements and that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other. Ultimately you may decide that I don’t want to spend a lot of time with that person because our values don’t align, but we can still be in the room, have a civil conversation, and learn. And that’s really what a community, the power of a community is.
Kira Hug: Tyler also shared the importance of figuring out your next step when you’re operating from a place of rest and wholeness, rather than a place of deep pain and burnout, and overwhelm. And I found that to be important because so many of us operate just from overwhelm. We’re making all these big decisions, little decisions and big decisions about our business, I mean, about our life in general, and it’s coming from a place where we’re not maybe even fully present, we’re not rested. And so I think that’s really important, not everyone is able to take that type of sabbatical or take a year. But what could we do, what could I do to feel a little bit more rested and present, and whole, and clear before I make any big decisions about my business so that I’m not making the wrong decisions because I haven’t slept or because I’m just so stressed out? And so that was a really important point that Tyler made.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. This is a really interesting idea to talk about because I think a lot of people who hit burnout, they’re burning out because they’re stressed about money. They’re stressed about where the new client is coming from. They’re putting in all of these extra hours to try to make things work. And the irony there is that when you’re doing that and you’re worn out and that frustration is coming because you don’t have enough, it’s really hard to take a step back and say, oh, I need to take a few days or a few weeks, or in Tyler’s case a year, because you can’t, you don’t have the financial resources or the support from your family. So it’s definitely a place of privilege to be able to do that, but that’s why it’s so important to start to identify the markers of burnout and to see, oh, if I keep going down this road, I am going to burnout.
I’m going to be overwhelmed. I’m going to be totally frustrated, so that you can stop that. So you can find people to support you, even if it’s friends, if it’s being able to just step away from your desk or take a walk. I know I’m really minimizing burnout by saying, oh yeah, you can solve it with an afternoon walk because that’s usually not going to be the case. But we have to be aware of what’s happening around us because by the time we hit that burnout, if we are stuck in a situation where we can’t step away from work, or even take a few days to figure things out, that can actually make it worse. And this is actually the second time that we’ve talked about sabbaticals on the podcast in the last couple of months, and I’m taking it as a sign from the universe that we need to take a sabbatical care.
Kira Hug: I mean, I have. I mean, not even just maternity leave, which is not a sabbatical because you’re not sleeping and taking care of a baby. But before that, before I had my maternity leave, the summer before that, the prior two summers, I would take the month off, usually July and take at least three weeks off. And I know that was a conversation we had with Sage Polaris about her taking time off and taking months off or taking a week off every month. And so that is really important to me and important in the way that we grow our business together. Because if that’s something I value because I want to avoid burnout and I have wanted to go into business to have that type of flexibility so I can be my family, then it is a question, we need to revisit it. Is that happening? And that’s what Tyler was talking about. He got into his business for freedom and flexibility. And so just checking back with himself to say, well, am I actually doing that in my business? Am I creating that? If not, why? Why not?
Rob Marsh: Yeah. And I think if you’re listening to the podcast now and thinking, there’s no way I could take a sabbatical or even a couple of weeks off. Then maybe it’s time to take a step back and say, okay, what would I need to change in my business to be able to do that? Do I need to work with different clients? Do I need to be charging more for the work that I’m doing? Do I need to capture more of the value that I’m creating instead of billing by the word or by the hour? Look at your business and think, okay, I might not be able to do it now, but that’s the goal. I want to be able to take off three weeks in the summer or a month every quarter, or a week every month. Whatever that looks like to you and say, what do I need to change in my business and start to take steps towards that.
Kira Hug: And if you can’t take off time from work yet, which some people can’t, could you unplug from the matrix like Tyler did? Could you just get off social media for a month or two? Would that create some type of a social media sabbatical? So maybe you’re still operating in your business, you’re still marketing, you’re still running things, but you’re unplugging and cutting that out of your day to day experience.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. That can be one approach to it that can help for sure. Tyler also talked a little bit about the harassment that he had over the last summer and the lessons that he learned from it. Not engaging with somebody who is trying to damage you or calling you out. But the thing that really stuck out to me there was the fact that he had this community of people who knew who he was, knew what his values are, knew the person, and could recognize that when this person was accusing him of things that he says aren’t true, and I believe him, they’re likely not true, he has these people to rally around him and to say yeah, we actually know who Tyler is. And again, we talk a lot about community. The community that we’ve built in the Copywriter Club. It’s just nice to have people around you who can say, yep, he’s a good person. I stand with him and we can ignore the noise that’s going on around us.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I mean, it was really helpful to hear Tyler’s experience. So I appreciate that he shared that because many of us will deal with trolls or we have dealt with trolls. So this is not going to be something that happens once. This will happen to us, if we are building an online business and we are visible, this will oftentimes happen. So it was helpful, even just hearing from him, the lesson learned was: don’t engage. You think you’re trying to solve the problem, so you do engage, but that backfired.
So I’m taking that lesson away from this conversation for the troll that you and I may deal with next or a troll I may encounter, just don’t engage at all. And I think his perspective on it too, just like this was somebody who wasn’t in his community, was not a client, was not even a listener of the podcast, not on the email list. So just keeping that in perspective too, is this someone that warrants a response and has been a part of your community, and there could be something to learn from it or is this just truly a troll? And deciphering what is the difference between the two.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. And it’s hard, when somebody accuses you of something that’s not true, we’ve had that happen. Not at the level that Tyler did, but people have said things about us that are not true and it’s hard not to engage and not to try to defend yourself. But like Tyler pointed out, sometimes that feeds the fire as opposed to putting it out.
Kira Hug: Yeah, we have had it happen and it’s definitely not fun. Okay. So also I appreciate that Tyler talked about the platforms. And it’s always interesting when you see someone like Tyler who was an Instagram marketer and an expert in that space and had built multiple offers around social media, and you see someone shift and move into a totally different space and really question those platforms. It’s important for me to pay attention to that. And so he made a really good point. It was just a good reminder about social media platforms and really what their goal is.
And that they do not have, they’re not trying to protect us as the end user. They just want to maintain our attention and will do whatever they can to maintain our attention. And so either we’re aware of that and we play in that arena knowing that or we opt out. And so it just reminds me, I don’t want to depend on those platforms. We still use some of those platforms for the Copywriter Club. We use them carefully and we’re aware of those platforms. I just don’t want to depend on them. I’m okay using them to amplify what we do, but not to base my entire business on those platforms.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. Agreed. He mentioned the Facebook Papers that were published by the Washington Post. It’s the stuff that we’ve seen over and over how Facebook, Instagram, all of the social media really are all about capturing your attention, holding your attention, and they don’t really care that much about how they do it. And so the negative impacts that it’s having on the political discourse, on disinformation that’s shared, not just politically, but all kinds of disinformation that’s out there and the way that advertisers take advantage of that, it’s unsettling. And I think it’s worth having us and anybody else who’s using social media revisit that and say, okay, how do we do it in a more healthy way? And I know we’re going to talk just a little bit more about how Tyler uses that in the next section of the interview. Let’s jump back into the interview and hear how Tyler is building a business without social media or how he’s actually using it the right way to support his business.
Kira Hug: So I definitely want to hear all about the how and how you’re shifting away from it. But maybe you can just reassure us that it’s okay, I guess there’s a lot of fear around this. It’s like, if I’m not on social media channels, my business will fall apart, or I won’t be able to make as much revenue, or my competition will out shine me because they’re all showing up and doing reels. So can you just make us, or maybe just me feel better?
Rob Marsh: Me too, for sure.
Kira Hug: Make the two of us feel better about the possibility of building an online business without depending on social media.
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah, for sure. My thought about social media these days is it’s not going anywhere. It’s here to stay. It’s a part of our life. It’s a part of the zeitgeist. It’s a part of culture. So how do we use it in a way that feels good, that’s in line with our values, that doesn’t feel oppressive and frustrating, and that is a tool in our business? So for me, I feel like social media fits into our business these days and how it will as we continue to evolve and kind of grow. What we’re doing with onlinebusinessowner.com, social media is simply an amplification tool for the content that we are creating off of social media. For a long time, I built my business where it all happened on social. I created content for social. I built relationships on social. I acquired leads on social, and that was it.
And that worked to a certain extent, but I really want a business that has more staying power. That has something that can last much longer. And I would rather put all of that energy and effort into creating content outside of social, and then simply using social media as a way to amplify what’s already been created. So that’s one of the thoughts I have around social media these days. I also think that there is benefit to finding community on social. It’s interesting because in the same time when these reports are coming out talking about the harm that social media has caused in particular among teens and young women, the data also shows how much social media creates opportunities for connection and community for people, especially folks who are historically marginalized, folks that are kind of on the edges of the society, who have found community and connection on social media, when it may be more difficult for them to find it in person or in their location.
So there’s something to be said for kind of this double edged sword, of the harm and the good that social media creates. What we’re doing in our business these days is, we are fully relying on our email, newsletter, our podcast, because, side note here you all, podcasting is vastly undertapped. It’s been around 20 years now, but it is such an untapped space for creating content. There is so much opportunity. You are not late to creating a podcast. It’s still something that can be done. I think the numbers are around, there’s 2.7 million podcasts right now in the world and there are 20 million business accounts on Instagram. So there’s so much potential there.
So for us, it’s our newsletter, not email marketing, our newsletter, creating content in a newsletter format, sending it out to our subscribers twice a week. We have two different newsletters we send out, one on Monday, one on Thursday. It’s different content in each one. And we see incredible open rates, incredible response rates to that content. Our podcast is the next thing we’re doubling down on that. So working on growing our podcast also monetizing our podcast and then looking for other types of podcasts we can create. And then the last thing that we’re going to be doing is, I know, wait for it, it’s 2006 all over again, a blog. I think people vastly…
Kira Hug: What’s a blog?
Tyler J. McCall: A blog Kira…
I know that blogging is a long play. I know it takes time to build traction and traffic. However, when I was on my social media sabbatical, and I wanted to know what was happening in the world, what did I do? I Googled and I read about it on a blog. And here’s my reassurance to you Kira and Rob, and folks that are listening, for just as many people who are all in on social media and who are using it for their business and who love it and want to be there, there are just as many people if not more, who don’t want be there, Who don’t want have to log in to find the latest news, who don’t want to have to join a community on Facebook to stay in touch with other people. They want to find that in other ways. So you can create alternatives for those people that don’t want to be on social in the same way that everyone else is.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, that’s a really good point. And obviously, you’re talking a lot about what you’re building now, which is nice because out of the darkness of the last couple of years is this new thing that has emerged onlinebusinessowner.com. I mean, you basically just gave us the game plan. What else are you doing there in that space?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. So our goal is to create a digital hub for people to learn how to start and grow a thriving business that they love. And to do that in a way that is all free, where people can access it without having to go behind a paywall or invest in any kind of program or experience. And to create something that is kind of leading conversation in the industry, not from the brain of Tyler J. McCall all the time. I’m there to share my ideas and that kind of stuff, but more than anything, I want to create a platform where other people can share their points of view, their ideas, their approaches. Because like I said, one of our core beliefs is that there’s a million and one right ways to run an online business. So we’re doing that through content. That’s our main play is creating content in our Digest, our podcast, our newsletter.
And then we’re monetizing on the backend by partnering with brands and companies, and other creators and entrepreneurs who want to get in front of our audience through paid placement, advertorials, podcasts, ads, those types of things. And really finding ways to monetize that way to keep all of our content free and accessible for people, regardless of what stage of business they’re in, so they can come to this hub. Online business is, it’s so interesting, we operate in this world that’s, there’s no regulation, there’s no control. It’s just kind of whatever is happening wherever. And there’s not really a central place for people to go. A lot of things are built under personal brands, someone can go learn from so and so or read so and so’s newsletter, or listen to so-and-so’s podcast. But I really want to try and build something that kind of curates and aggregates all of these different ideas and points of view in one place that people can access regardless of where they are in their business.
Kira Hug: All right. I have so many questions about this. I think going back to the burnout and the exhaustion, I’m listening to you and it sounds like you have this brilliant plan in place. It’s exciting and we can feel your energy as you talk about it. So clearly your sabbatical worked for you, but was there almost one download one day and towards the end of the sabbatical where you had all of the aha moments or did you start to pick up these ideas piece by piece and it took six months or a year to start to see the bigger picture? How did that work for you?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. There was this moment during the sabbatical where I thought, actually one of my greatest fears about going offline is that I was going to miss something. That I was going to miss some kind of industry news or scoop, or I’ll be honest, maybe some little gossip about things that were happening in the industry. And as I was offline, after a few weeks and then a month would go by, I actually had the opportunity about, I think it was about six weeks into my sabbatical, my social media sabbatical, I went to a wedding of an online business friend. And there were these other online business owners there, folks that I, some I kind of knew better than others. And I was telling my husband, Eric, we were driving to Detroit from Chicago. And I was like, “I’m kind of nervous about seeing these people because I’m not seeing them with kind of my social media armor on. It’s just normal, real Tyler going to this event. We’ll see what it’s like.”
And I was just so interested in what that would feel like. And I was like, I wanted to talk to them and ask what was going on in the industry, what was happening in the space. And I realized that so much of kind of knowing what’s going on in business, the trends, the things, kind of the recurring ideas, what’s happening on different platforms, social media platforms, different platforms that creators use to run their online business, so much of that is kind of exclusively on social media. It’s in Facebook groups, it’s happening in Twitter DMs, it’s happening in conversations on a platform.
And there was nowhere you could find that information without logging onto social media. And it’s at that point that I started researching media companies and learning about Morning Brew and The Hustle, and theSkimm and Girlboss and Betches, and all these media companies that were serving all different kinds of markets with different types of content. And I really dug into this world. And then when I got back on social media, I got on Twitter and just followed all of these media company operators, all the media brands. And really started learning about what it looks like to build a media company and independently own bootstrapped media company, and just started piecing it together from there.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I like this approach and Kira and I have talked in the past about how the Copywriter Club is in some ways a media company and looking for ways to grow those kinds of products and opportunities to engage with the audience. Because like you’re saying, as we said earlier in the podcast, you need to find this community, but if you’re not on social media where the conversations are happening, those communities are even harder to find. And so building communities where this stuff can happen is really nice.
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. That’s one of our top goals. We’ve been talking a lot recently about what it would look like to build some kind of community of subscribers. And we’ve talked about creating a supporter model where folks can contribute an annual recurring contribution to support our work and maybe giving those folks some kind of private community to connect. And one of our goals is to launch a referral program for our newsletter this year. And one of the rewards, maybe after you refer three people or five people to the newsletter, you’ll be invited to our private club that you can come and be a part of. And the number one question we keep asking is, okay, where are we going to build this club? Because we don’t want to do it in a Facebook group. So that’s one of the things we’re kind of exploring and trying to figure out. I don’t have answers yet, but it’s one of the things we’re considering as we think, okay, how do we build this without being fully dependent upon social for everything that we’re doing?
Kira Hug: What has surprised you the most as you’ve been building this media company?
Tyler J. McCall: The thing that’s been the most surprising is hearing from people who value the content we’re producing and people who are saying things to me like, “Hey, I typically delete all the newsletters or all the emails I get from online business owners. I don’t read them. I ignore them. But your email is the only one that I open every single week. Your email’s my favorite newsletter I get every single week.” That’s been the most surprising to me because it’s been really like a, it’s kind of blown my mind. Because I am someone who is kind of regularly doubting my work and my worth, and just thinking like, “They don’t really like it. They’re saying that to be nice.” Something I’m constantly working on in therapy. And for me, right now, I am the sole creator in our company.
So I’m producing a ton of content every week and I’m not a trained writer, I didn’t study journalism or anything like that. And I’m just kind of putting my ideas out there into the world and taking news and trends, and things that are happening in the industry, and then kind of distilling them in a way where it’s easier to consume and digest. And then kind of adding on a bit of commentary and things people can consider as they think about this news and what’s happening. And people are really valuing that. So that’s been so surprising to me, people actually like it. The second thing that’s been surprising is, to me, it’s like I’ve surprised myself and my ability to create this content on a regular basis. And what I’m really learning is about kind of, the act of building the habit and building the muscle, especially for writing and this form of content creation.
And I have two deadlines every week that I have to meet. I have a Monday 3:00 PM Eastern and a Thursday sometime in the afternoon, whenever I get my act together deadline. I have to meet every week for these two pieces of content. And I’m doing it. I’ve been doing it since October, which feels really wild to me that I keep meeting those deadlines. So that’s been a really cool learning for me. And I think for me, a lot of it is because I actually enjoy what I’m doing. I really love sitting down and reading, that was another thing, when I was offline, I was just voraciously consuming content, the news, think pieces, op-eds – all kinds of stuff. And I would tell my husband or my friends about it. And I’m like, “Wait, this uses my skills of getting all this information, reading information and then distilling it and making it simple for someone to understand.” And that’s what I get to do every week.
Rob Marsh: So as I listen to you talking about your business, I really want to dig in more on what you’re doing with newsletters, but probably the more important question is, how are you getting it all done? With just the content that we have to create, with podcasts, we do a print newsletter and our emails, and some of that stuff, it’s so hard to get it all done. And because you’re kind of starting from the ground up again, you’re doing a lot of this on your own without a lot of help. How are you getting it done?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. I’m fortunate that I’m not doing it all by myself all the time. So I have two incredible women on my team, Stacy, who supports us through managing our inbox, doing all of our scheduling, all of our conversations with brand partners and podcast guests. And then Rachel, who works on our team full time in our marketing and content role. And Rachel is really the one who, she and I spend so much time together every week talking about content and the business, and our ideas, and kind of picking where we want to go next and what we want to focus on. And she’s the one who’s like, “Okay.” She takes the ideas and the content and gets it out into the world. So I’m really fortunate to have those folks supporting me. Also just creating that we can operate from. And this is not my strong suit.
Thankfully, both of the folks on my team are really great at this. So creating systems we can operate from. For example, creating this Monday Digest Newsletter, where we are typically covering two to three news stories where we are, I’m writing about the news story and then providing commentary on the news story. And then we are rounding up social media news. So typically we have about a dozen different social media updates, new features, updates, trends that are happening on social. Then we gather about three to five other news stories. We’re talking about things like businesses in the industry that have secured funding, maybe how to use specific marketing strategies, things like that. We’re gathering that, and kind of the other news section, we’ll feature an advert from an advertiser. So we’re writing something for them and then we’re talking about our podcast on the newsletter.
And then we’re also, we have a little kick in the pants section where we are gathering up kind of inspirational Instagram posts from around the internet and sending those out as well. So that’s a lot of content to produce every single Monday. And thankfully with Rachel and Stacy, they’ve created this incredible system. We use monday.com for our project management, and they’ve built out this entire content production directory where they’re dropping all the content throughout the week. As I see articles or things that I’m interested in writing about, I drop them in there. So then I can sit down and I can kind of parse through and figure out what I want to write about.
They’re also sourcing social media updates, they’re sourcing the inspirational content, so I don’t have to do any of that. Rachel is managing all the podcast production and marketing. So we figured out some of those systems that are making it easier. So, I can really focus on the commentary and the explanation of kind of the bigger news story. So we found that system works really well for us right now. And then for us the next stage is kind of figuring out what role we need next in our company, because I think we’re definitely going to need some more support as we launch our blog and as we keep growing what we’re doing.
Kira Hug: Tyler, you shared earlier in the conversation, as we were talking about some of the struggles you’ve had about losing that trust in yourself and listening to those inner voices. And I’m just wondering, how do you regain that trust in your own thought process and your gut? It’s so hard to do that. What’s helped you gain that back?
Tyler J. McCall: That’s a really great question. For me, part of it has been through just the commitment to creating and delivering something on a regular basis. Kind of having a public deadline has been helpful for me, because then I know like, “Okay, every week I’m going to do this.” And some weeks I create something and I’m like, “Okay, I don’t know if this is great, but whatever, we’re putting it out there.” And some weeks I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is going to be really great. People are going to love this.” But regardless of how I feel about it, I’m still putting it out there. So that’s been part of it. That’s kind of helped me trust myself to create again and produce something again, and put myself out there again. Honestly, as far as regaining my trust around making decisions in my business or just signing what I want to do next, I’ve continued to kind of operate from this place of not allowing a lot of outside noise or a lot of outside inputs into my life and my business.
So I’m not really seeking out advice from many people unless I really trust them and really respect their point of view. I could probably count on one hand the number of people where I would say like, “Hey, what do you think about this?” And these are people who I really respect their point of view or really respect what they are building and it really resonates with me. What I found is when I’m not kind of asking all of these other people what they’re doing, or if I should or shouldn’t do this next thing, it kind of forces me to just make these decisions by myself and not to have to outsource some of that. And part of that for me too looks like not being in a coaching community and not having a coach right now. And that feels the most healthy for me right now. Maybe down the road, I will look for a coach again, or look for a community to join. But for now I’m just trusting myself as I’m building what I’m building.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I like that. We’re running out of time. And so I’m going to try to shoehorn two related questions together with my last question-
Tyler J. McCall: Sure.
Rob Marsh: I’m going to ask you. So there’s this idea that everything is path dependent. That is you can’t get to where you are today without having gone through what you went through yesterday. And so I’m curious, do you think you could build the business that you’re building today without having gone through what you went through over the last couple years? And I guess the second part of my question is if you could go back to Tyler in 2018, when you’ve kind of built this really nice business, but give yourself some advice about what’s going to happen over the next couple of years. What would you say?
Tyler J. McCall: I don’t think that I would be able to build what I’m building today if I didn’t take the path I had taken. I think that being able to write about what I write about and have the business I have now is really only because I’ve been in this industry for almost six years now. And because I’ve tried so many different business models, because I’ve run an agency and a membership, and courses, and a mastermind. And because I’ve been to the events and spoken at the events, and been in these rooms with the seven and eight figure entrepreneurs in the industry. I’ve seen behind the scenes of these businesses and the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I think because of all of that experience, it allows me to do what I do now.
If I had to give some advice to Tyler four years ago, wow, I would probably, I would honestly probably tell him to keep doing what he’s doing, but to be okay with not trying to get into the rooms or be around the people that you feel like you need to be around, or the rooms that you feel like you need to be in. That your business and your success, that’s going to work out whether or not you are a cool kid or not. I feel like that’s really what it boils down to. And I feel like for so long since then until now, I spent so much time suppressing who I really was, hiding who I really was.
Honestly reverting back to this kind of teenage approach to myself. I grew up as a queer teen in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina, in a rural Christian family. So many of my years were spent suppressing who I was and my sexuality, and my gender, and those types of things. And unfortunately I had stepped back into that and still I don’t see many people in the industry that look like me, that act like me, that have a life like I have. And I would encourage myself in 2018 to not suppress and hide all of that and conform to some kind of ideal personality and approach to entrepreneurship with the goal of getting into the rooms where I feel like I needed to be to grow the business I wanted to grow.
Kira Hug: That is the best advice to wrap with. And Tyler, where can our listeners find you? Where can they learn more? Where can they jump into your world?
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah, onlinebusinessowner.com is the best place to go, subscribe to our Digest. I’ll be in your inbox every Monday afternoon with an update on what’s happening in the industry, along with marketing and social media trends and news. And the Online Business Show is out every Monday, wherever you listen to podcasts and you can find all of our old episodes at onlinebusinessowner.com as well.
Kira Hug: Thank you so much Tyler for sharing everything in your business and going in all the different directions today with us. And looking at the hood of your business is refreshing and I feel inspired and motivated. So thank you.
Tyler J. McCall: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Kira Hug: Before we wrap up, let’s talk about a couple more things that stood out. Rob, why don’t you kick it off?
Rob Marsh: All right. Yeah, as I was mentioning, just as we were wrapping up the last bit of commentary, the double edged sword of social media and how Tyler is instead of spending so much time on social media or using reels in the way that he used to, he’s basically looking at social media as a way to amplify the content that he’s doing outside of social media. So it may still be happening online, on a blog, on his podcast, in his emails that he’s sending out a couple times a week. That’s where the main work is happening and that’s where the main focus of the business is. And the use of social media is simply to amplify that, to get it out in front of a bigger audience, but really limiting the time spent there, the engagement on social media and trying to minimize the negative impact that social media has in our life.
Again, it’s something that got me thinking like, “Okay, how can we do that more in our business?” And I don’t think you and I use, in fact maybe to a fault, we don’t use social media like a lot of people say we should be. We do post and we have a member of our team who’s engaging there as much as possible, but it hasn’t been a major strategy for us. But it’s still got me thinking like, “Hmm, should we be spending this much advertising on this platform or are there ways that we should be backing off and using those resources in a different way in our business?” And might drive some changes for us and for somebody who’s listening to what Tyler was suggesting.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I think those are good questions to ask. And I know Tyler mentioned podcasting, how podcasting is untapped. There are 2.7 million podcasts, only 2.7 million podcasts. And then there are 20 million business accounts on Instagram. So I am always excited to talk about podcasting with other podcasters and I think there is so much opportunity there that you and I have tapped into. And so, in this part of the conversation with Tyler, I think I was just more leaning in because this is where Tyler really talks about the shift in his business and the new model, and how he’s really shifted to the media business model, and gaining more sponsorships, and monetizing the backend, working with partners, and having a lot of free content available. And so, I mean, I’ve been talking for a while about how I would love to have a media company and we do, you and I have a media company. The Copywriter Club is a media company and also a training and coaching company.
We still have that component as well. And so, for me, I was just like, “Ah, he’s speaking my language.” Because I am so excited about the idea of monetizing the podcast, of thinking of new podcasts to create, of really focusing on our blog, which we have not focused heavily on at all. And just creating more really useful content that is available and free to all writers out there. To me, again, he was just speaking my language. And so this was really exciting to hear how he’s recreating his business. And I could feel that energy shift too in this part of the conversation with Tyler. He’s so excited about it. And so even if you aren’t interested in building a media type company, just to know that we all can shift our business at any point and feel re-energized, especially if you’re not feeling excited about the business you have today.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. He mentioned several companies that he was studying and looking at, and it’s interesting because I’ve watched several of them as well. Companies like Marketing Brew and the Daily Brew, two newsletters that go out from the same company. But there are a lot of these media companies that are starting to build audiences with great, interesting content, mostly through email, through a newsletter of some sort. Often it’s daily, sometimes it’s two or three times a day. They also have content on their websites. Maybe they’re promoting podcasts like what Tyler is doing. But it got me thinking, the business that we have shouldn’t be happening on Facebook or Instagram, it should be happening on our own websites. We should be doing things that are driving traffic back to us, back to the property that we can control.
And you and I, in the business that we do, we have the copywriterclub.com where there’s resources there, that’s where we host our podcast. But any copywriter who’s out there should be trying to attract people onto something that they own. And usually that’s going to be an email list, something where we can communicate one on one or one to many with the clients who have expressed an interest in hearing from us. And that’s really where the business is happening. If you’re doing it through reels, if you’re doing it through Instagram or Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever the platform is, ultimately, you’re going to end up paying for that customer over and over. Yeah, I was the same. I was listening to Tyler thinking, “Okay.” What you and I have talked about in our own businesses and what we’ve been talking about for other operators creating these kinds of resources is working and it’s working well for a lot of people.
Kira Hug: And Tyler also talks about losing trust in yourself. And this is, as we started to wrap up the conversation, he talked about how he did lose trust and how he’s earning it back and what he’s doing to earn it back and feel the trust in his own decisions moving forward. And a lot of it came down to just making commitments to yourself and setting deadlines and meeting the deadlines. And so I was just wondering for you Rob, what helps you strengthen that trust in yourself?
Rob Marsh: Good question. Because making commitments and then keeping them to yourselves is probably just like earning trust from somebody else, is the way to do it for yourself. Saying, I’m going to have this done by X and it’s done. Meeting those commitments and it’s not just work related. And saying, hey, I’m going to get up and exercise. I’m going to eat right. I’m going to spend time with my partner one on one, twice a week, or whatever those kinds of things are, as you do that you rebuild that trust. The interesting thing that I thought though as we were talking with Tyler about this is, that in spite of all of the negative stuff that’s happened over the last year, the burnout, dealing with troll, all of that stuff, Tyler said he didn’t feel like he could build what he’s building today without that experience.
And I think that’s really important to remember that the failures, the things that go wrong are the things that lead to the successes and the things that go right. And we can’t get to where we are today without going through where we were yesterday. And to keep that in mind, so if you’re struggling and if you’re thinking, oh, this isn’t working out, that’s just part of the process. And you can make adjustments, you can make changes and you can get to where you want to go. And that process is what actually builds the trust in yourself in moving forward.
Kira Hug: That’s the end of this episode of the Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Muntner. If you liked what you’ve heard today, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts, or you could share this episode with someone you know might like it.
Rob Marsh: And if you’ve come to the episode and want to hear a little bit more, we’ve talked a lot about social media on the podcast. Just two episodes that you might want to check out. Episode 177 with Andrea Jones, all about how copywriters can use social media in their businesses, and episode 191 with Kaitlyn Parker about how to stand out on social media. And if you want to take your business up a notch with the support of a community and mentors, and two new coaches, head over to the copywriterthinktank.com for more information. We’d love to talk to you about that opportunity. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.