TCC Podcast #392: High Margin Business that's Fun to Run with Ian Stanley - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #392: High Margin Business that’s Fun to Run with Ian Stanley

When it comes down to it, the thing most copywriters want to build is a business that is high-margin (it makes money) and fun to run (it’s enjoyable). But achieving that goal is harder it appears. So we invited Ian Stanley to join us for the 392nd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. We asked Ian about how he did it—created a business that is profitable and fun. We also asked him about sales coaching, breaking up his partnership, his approach to email and his new comedy special. To hear what Ian had to share, click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.

Stuff to check out:

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Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh: How do you create a high-margin company that is fun to run? That’s pretty much the goal we all share… earn enough money for the lifestyle we want—however you define that—that’s the high margin part. And enjoy life doing whatever it is you do, from work to whatever you do in your personal time—that’s the fun to run part.

Hi, I’m Rob Marsh, one of the founders of The Copywriter Club. And on today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, my co-founder, Kira Hug, and I interviewed copywriter, entrepreneur and comedian Ian Stanley. This is actually Ian’s second appearance on the podcast, so we caught up on how his business has changed in the past couple of years. And as we talked about that, we asked Ian about sales training, breaking up a partnership, commedy and buidling a company that makes money and is fun to run. One caution about this episode, Ian likes to swear. We’ve cut most of that out of the interview in order not to offend the censors at Apple who like to put an explicit label on anything rated higher than PG. But if we missed any, we apologize. That’s just who Ian is and how he shows up.  

One other thing before we get to the interview… you’ve heard me talk about the copywriter underground and what it includes. If you’ve been thinking about joining this amazing community, let me give you two reasons to jump in now. During the month of May we have two incredible bonuses for members. The first is a limited time Client Emails Masterclass with Michal Eisik. Michal launched her business after completing the copywriter accelerator and think tank, and will be sharing this usually-paid masterclass with members of the underground… but only for one week in May. And we have a second bonus… it’s the strategic plan that copywriter Daniel Throssell used to make his client’s book a best seller in Australia. It works for non-book products too. Daniel has only shared this plan one time… to paid subscribers to his newsletter. It’s not currently available anywhere. But he offered to give it—completely free of charge—to members of The Copywriter Undergound. And like the Client Emails Masterclass, this member exclusive is only available for one week during the month of May in The Underground. If you’ve been thinking of joining, these are two very good reasons to jump in now—if you were to purchase either one of these bonuses sepearately, you’d pay more than what you pay to join The Underground for a single month. And I haven’t even mentioned all the other training, coaching, and community stuff that comes along with these two bonuses. Visit to claim your free bonuses now.

And with that, let’s go to our interview with Ian.

Kira Hug: All right, Ian, let’s jump in, not with your story, because we know part of your story from our last interview, but let’s just start with changes, at least one change you’ve made over the last four years. Maybe we talked to you four years ago, Rob, do you know? We’ll say four years ago.

Ian Stanley: Something like that.

Kira Hug: Over four years ago.

Rob Marsh: I mean, it was definitely, it was what? Episode 208. So it’s closing in on four years anyways.

Kira Hug: Yeah. Yeah. All right. So what is one big change you’ve made to your business since we last chatted?

Ian Stanley: To my business? I feel like little businesses like this change constantly. So honestly, the biggest change that’s happened is my business partner and I, so basically I was living in LA. I’d gone there to pursue standup. And then this COVID thing happened and stand up itself was, you know, in question. Cancel culture was at its absolute peak. I had a guy tell me that I was, I said in an ad, I said, I’m a white man. Not exactly. And he said, you can’t say that. And I went, I, what do you mean? That’s a fact. What am I supposed to say? Um, and that’s when I was like, Jesus, this is getting bad. While I was in LA watching nonviolent protests, violently, uh, protest from my actual window. Um, and so I was like, I gotta get out of here. So I left LA and I mean, it sounds weird to say now, cause I feel like standup is almost bigger than ever in certain ways. Um, But it died off for a while there. And I think that the worse the world is, the more important stand up is. Because it’s just funnier in ways, too, because things are so insane. It’s easy to write material when the world itself is a ridiculous place full of people getting mad at white men that say that they’re white. So I moved to Idaho and said, OK, I’m going to focus on business now for the next little while here, because There’s no standup. And so my business partner and I went hard into like, let’s build a big business. Let’s do this whole thing. So we ended up with, you know, selling high ticket stuff over the phone. We had, you know, six or seven phone sales people. We were running a bunch of traffic on YouTube. 

I was coaching the sales team, which I’m very good at, but I despise. It’s basically like being a therapist. And basically if one of your phone sales people,, if his wife says something mean that morning or he doesn’t sleep right, you lose money, you know, and, and you realize that like every, or they just have one bad call or whatever. And it was just not for me. So, uh, And I know this is a slightly longer story than you may have asked for, but it’s a pretty relevant one, I think. So last March, about a year ago, my business partner and I had been watching The Office for the, I don’t know, sixth time all the way through. And I had this thought, what would happen if we were in an office for eight hours a day? Like, how much would we actually get done? How good would that be? And so we had rented this house we called The Hoffice. So it was just like a home office that two of our employees lived in and that we would work at. So we did this. I was like, let’s just try it for a week. 

So we go in Monday. We had a great time. I’m like, oh my God, we got so much done. This was really cool. We go in Tuesday. And by the end of Tuesday, I’m like, this is perhaps the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I hate this. I hate this so much. And because and there’s only like seven of us, but they’ll ask me questions, ask Kim questions, who is my business partner and you don’t get anything done. And I went home and I was like the most tired I’ve ever been. And I understand that for anybody here, they can make Europe pathetic. How can you not work one eight hour day? I don’t, I’ve never had—the closest thing I had to a real job—I would be there for like five to six hours and I was writing copy and I would, you know, I figured out my schedule in a way that worked for me. And I was just so exhausted and depleted and annoyed. And I just, I was like, there’s something’s wrong. Like, this is not right. And the phone sales is such a nightmare.

I would recommend most people, if you want to do a high ticket phone sales program, just understand that either you will be miserable for an extended period of time, and then And then you maybe will have a sales manager who will do it for you. And then they’ll probably quit. And then you’ll lose all your money. And I wasn’t actually miserable. I’m a very happy person. So it’s very relative. But for me, having to do one hour of coaching calls a day is like a non-negotiable. I can’t do it. I just can’t do that part of it. And so that night, I was just like, something’s got to change. And I was so tired. It was like my bones we’re giving up. 

And I was just thinking like, someone’s got to change here. And I wrote out this plan for how my business partner and I could split up the business and we could stop doing phone sales. And I  had all this energy, like a huge burst of energy at like nine at night, just like, Holy, this could be it. This could work. But then I’m like, Oh my God, I got to tell my business partner that I don’t want to do this anymore. And we’re best friends. And so the next day we go to the office at the end of my K let’s, uh, Let’s go get a drink. And we go get a drink. And I’m like, hey, man, I don’t want to do this anymore in this way. And he’s like, oh, my God, me neither. That’s so exciting. 

And so we basically just realized that because we were doing a few hundred grand a month and but the margins are never that like, you keep growing and you’re like, why don’t we have more money? Like, I’m making less money working six to eight hours a day sometimes than I was making when I was working an hour or two a day and had all this free time for these other things and didn’t have all these people to manage. And so we figured out this breakup plan and he took the email list management agency and I took back the company and it was glorious. Beautiful. And so since May of last year, so nearly a year now, I’ve been running it on my own again. It’s been super easy and fun and profitable. And then I recorded my first comedy special in November. I released it five days ago. It premiered. And so that’s a huge, that’s like, you know, as a comic, that’s kind of what you work towards. After taking basically a couple years off from LA to move here and not really having places to perform, it’s a completely changed trajectory. And so I’m primarily doing that and then running the business as well. So a lot of changes. Living in Idaho instead of LA, a very different vibe, much prettier, much less traffic. much cleaner air, much nicer people, much less human feces on the ground. There’s not even dog poop on the ground here. Like there’s not, I have not seen trash in downtown Boise. Like if somebody drops like a bottle, they pick it up in LA people, they throw it at you. And so, yeah, lots of changes.

Rob Marsh: Wow. Yeah. Boise is one of the cleanest places I’ve ever been. I live in Salt Lake, which is another clean city. Yeah.

Ian Stanley: Your air quality is so questionable.

Rob Marsh: In the summer, if there’s a fire or in the winter, if it gets really cold, we actually didn’t have an inversion this year, which is kind of nice. That’s nice. This has been our best air year in forever. But we didn’t come on the podcast to talk about our air.

Ian Stanley: I don’t know, man. This could be riveting podcast content. They’re like, wow, I went to listen to this thing and they talked about the weather.

Rob Marsh: Yeah. Why is there so much smoke in the Salt Lake Valley since the 1840s? Who knows? I have some questions based, I mean, there’s about five different things that I want to ask as we go through this. But I want to jump back to what you were doing coaching the sales team, because I think this is something most copywriters don’t do. We might have a sales job at some point where we learn those sales skills. But when you’re building a sales team, you’re instilling those skills into people so that they can sell. So even though you didn’t love that part of the job, what were the things that you were teaching your sales team in order to make them better at selling? How did you get that stuff into their brains?

Ian Stanley: That’s a good question. Well, well done. I, uh, that’s a great one. Um, I actually enjoyed doing it. Like I would enjoy being on with them and watching them change and watching their energy shift and, and, but What pissed me off was just it was the complete anti-lifestyle business because literally my entire business and traffic was based on human emotion and human energy, basically. Like, if this person’s… Like, any split test you ran, you didn’t know if it was valid because it might have been that salesman number two’s wife drank again. And he didn’t actually even take calls. But you know, like so many little things that would or they just lost confidence for a week. Or there was a lot of two steps forward, one step back of like learning some strategy to selling, but then falling back on their confidence. And so I’d say the main stuff that I could tell that I thought that’s different than what most people do, because I was working with Cole Gordon, who’s a buddy of mine who I’d consulted for, and we joined his group and It’s really good sales training, like the tactics and techniques. For me, I was basically just coaching their beliefs and their belief in themselves. But ultimately, the way that I sell is very different than most people. And we did not do the high-pressure, douchey, fake tactics and things. I was very adamant that people had to leave the call feeling good either way, because we did some secret shopping of other people’s calls, and it was heavily shame-based. So it was pretty much like, they’d be really nice to the person. And then towards the end of the call, if the guy was like, I don’t think I don’t know if I can do it right now. They’d be like, Oh, do you want? Oh, you want your kids?

Rob Marsh: They really, they really said that.

Ian Stanley: Honestly, not far off certain ones. And it’d be like, Oh, you want your kids to think that dad’s a pussy? Is that what it is?

Rob Marsh: Or even provide for your family, like that kind of stuff.

Ian Stanley: Yeah. Yeah. Like very much like, Oh, I thought that you said you wanted to change your life. Now you’re saying that you don’t. It sounds like this is why you’re going to be a loser forever. Like stuff that’s like, we had one of my employees had gone on a call and he literally felt bad about himself for like two days. Now he was, you know, had his own insecurities and stuff, but I mean, they were like to the point where he was feeling terrible for a while about this. And I was like, dude, that’s on them. That’s not you. And so it was about selling in a really authentic way. And so really the most useful thing I would teach them, and I think that applies to copy and any form of selling is that we’re not selling a result, we’re selling a feeling. And that feeling is typically in this case is freedom. 

So teaching people how to write emails for other companies and you know, and our product has like the highest success rate of any I’ve seen at least. And, um, you know, so we knew, we know it works. We know that it’s legit and it’s, it doesn’t require investments. There’s also not all the bull like, Oh, here’s my $5,800 product. Now you need my coaching program and upsell. It’s like, here’s the program and there’s no expenses. There’s no ad costs. There’s nothing. So we felt good about all that. But it was really like, What I would tell them is figure out the thing they actually want and then just talk about that thing. So as an example, it would be most people think they’re selling a program on how to write emails to make money. And I’d say, that’s not what you’re selling. 

Let’s take an example of one guy’s. I keep missing my son’s soccer matches, right? I just want to go to my son’s soccer matches and be there for those. So now we’re no longer selling. So, and that would be, and that’s the advantage of phone sales and one-on-one selling is discovering the actual thing underneath the thing, right? So they say, well, I want to quit my job. Okay. Well, why do you want to quit your job? Well, I just, I don’t like my boss and I don’t make enough money and I don’t have freedom. Okay. Well, what would you like, what would you like look like if you didn’t have your boss and you only had to work two hours a day? Well, I’d live in a different house. I’d, I’d be able to, you know, hang out with my family and I’d stop missing my son’s soccer matches. Cause I keep having to go in on Saturdays. And you go, that’s the thing. That’s the thing that this person actually wants, because my goal is to get them to stop thinking in words and start thinking in pictures. So if instead of a thought of, I’m going to not have this job, instead in their mind, because it takes them out of their logical mind, when I can get them to just imagine being at the soccer field. 

Or like another example, guys, like I just want to have a house with a big enough yard so I can play with my kids. you know, it’s whatever that thing is that they say is the thing or somebody back, I want to buy this car for my dad. Okay. So what color is that car? Okay. What’s the, what’s the make of it? Okay. So just for a second, just imagine your dad behind the wheel of that car. How does that feel? It feels amazing. That’s what I want for you. And so it would, and then basically throughout the sales process, it’s bringing them back to not to 10 grand a month, It’s bringing them back to the car for their dad or not missing the soccer matches. And so it was really just a very human approach to finding out what a person actually wanted and then continuously reminding them that that’s what they were actually buying. 

They weren’t buying a course. They were buying this future that they had said that they wanted. So that was a big part of it. And then Honestly, the other part was I would have them meditate before their calls. I had like a three minute meditation I created for them to just shift their energy because ultimately sales is just a transfer of feelings. And if your feelings and energy are off, then you could say all the right and completely fail. And like I sold the first 50 people into the program myself and I closed 49 out of the 50 people. And, and there’s partially because I was the guru and the face of it and whatever, but I just treat people like people. And I had one guy who was like, oh, I don’t know if this is right for me. And I was like, OK, cool. He’s like, I got to talk to my wife. And what guys will say is they go, oh, you have to talk to your wife? 

Oh, that’s cool. I didn’t know she wore the pants in the relationship. That’s interesting. And they’ll go, oh, I would just go, oh, that’s awesome. Definitely you should talk to her. The only question I would ask you is, what would it feel like? where buying a program for $5,000 was such a small, inconsequential amount of money to you that you wouldn’t have to have that conversation. And then I’d go, go talk to her though. I’m not trying to then close. And I let them actually go. And then a day later, the guy comes back and say, yo, I’m in. Instead of me having that desperation, it’s that commission breath. That was so much of it was having them not come from a place of desperation and the need to sell because the second you get on the call and you’re in that mindset, the person on the other end can feel it and they are out. We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced that salesperson who you’re like, this guy, like I think he needs this or he’s not eating and it just turns you off completely. So it was largely, and this isn’t to say that the tactic side isn’t important and understanding price reveals and you know, building rapport and things, but ultimately all of that can almost be transcended by just giving up. That was really, I was like, remember that even if in the beginning you think they don’t have the money, you think they’re a bad candidate, you think whatever, just treat them like a person, care about them. And you may be surprised cause this person’s like, Oh, I make a thousand dollars a month. And then you find out at the end of the call that they got in a car accident and have $25,000 in their account from a settlement. And they can’t afford it, and they’re a good person. And so it’s like, yeah, it’s largely just managing their feelings, which is.

Kira Hug: It sounds like you’re really, really good at sales, 49 out of 50, and coaching, and helping change the beliefs in other people. But from your story, it sounds like that’s not something that you enjoy as much, or it was draining you.

Ian Stanley: I hate scheduling calls. I hate scheduling. I hate things on my schedule. So like the idea that I, yeah. And it was also like, well, the best time to do it is in the morning before they start their day. And I was like, yeah, but I want to write in the morning and like have my life, you know? And so it just really wasn’t congruent with my personal lifestyle. If you’re willing to work a lot more and even so like literally if you didn’t talk to them for a few days you would watch sales go down like it’s it’s that fickle of a beast where like they need to be motivated and it’s largely therapy is what it is it’s just really working on the individual more so because until they get to that point of sales skill once they had the skill like they know how to sell they would just start doubting themselves or they would you know, get worried about not making enough sales or they’d get arrogant. That was one that happened is that was a big mistake as they start to get overconfident and they would go, Oh, I don’t need to ask all these questions anymore. I can just go on and close them. And you’re like, no, you’re now mistaking the result for, you’re not realizing that all those little pieces of why you sold them as well. So I’d rather just sell it for $2,000 on a video. and not have to have anybody in the way.

Kira Hug: Yeah. So, I mean, you realize this is not for me and then you pivoted. How do you know when it’s just simply not for you or you need to push through and you need to get to the next stage and that it could be for you if you just rearrange a couple of things or when you just need to jump and tell your partner this isn’t working?

Ian Stanley: I think there’s two things for me. One is, do you actually want the end goal? And that was what really became clear to me was, I don’t care. I don’t care if this business does 20 million a year. That doesn’t matter to me. And I don’t want 25, 30 employees. I want, I’d rather have 100,000 a month in profit, work in an hour to a day, then build this bigger thing and do all this stuff. So that’s the, I mean, I think so many people are climbing a mountain they don’t actually want to get to the top of. And then they think that committed and that, you know, well, I’ve already, I’m already here. I’ve already done all this. I can’t change now. I mean, there’s a difference between quitting and giving up. And I think it’s a huge distinction. Giving up is when you stop doing something and you still want the end result. Quitting is when you realize that you don’t actually want the end result. And quitting is a incredible skill to have because it’s so many people just do a thing they don’t want to do because they think, oh, that’ll make me a quitter. We should be a quitter. You just shouldn’t ever give up. I’ve never given up at something. If I want the goal, I’ve never given up. It doesn’t matter how much pain I’m in with physical stuff that I’ve done, my crazy endurance stuff or whatever. I won’t give up. But if you decide you don’t want the end goal, then you should quit. And so that’s a big one. And then if energetically and like, just like instinctually, it feels just very wrong and you’re fighting your nature. Like what I struggled with for a while was I’ve lived, a large portion of my life now based on the concept of surrender. And so, which like the main book is The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer. And I’ve read it like 18 times. And so you sometimes ask yourself, where is the surrender? And am I surrendering to myself and my preferences? And so it’s like one of his things is there’s a really good thing that I’d recommend anybody listen to. It’s like, I think it’s on Audible. It’s a one of his surrender audios around like work or surrender in the workplace or business or something like that. And he goes, it’s like an hour and a half. And he talks about how the primary function of business is to let go of parts of yourself. And so, and business will do that, you know, working with other people and all these things. But what I realized is I was like, okay, well the surrender is I don’t want to do this. So therefore I have to let go and just do it. And it’s like, no, the real surrender was I’m doing the wrong thing. And I have to let go of the business in its current way and let go of the relationship with my business partner and deal with that and move forward. So I think if it, if it just feels off energetically and you’re constantly tired and you constantly don’t want to work, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. Like if I start writing, I’m working on a novel right now and a screenplay. And then like with standup, it does, I have to make myself stop. doing those things. Like I’m like, I should write an email for my business. One more scene. I’ve got this idea, you know, and it’s like, and it’s not to say that all work is going to just pull you through it and all of that, but it’s, it’s that like, if it doesn’t naturally pull you in some way, there’s probably something wrong, you know? And it’s, it’s probably not the right thing. So it was just trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and watching. And also I think another huge one is actually just like, It kind of fits in with, are you climbing the wrong mountain? Is this someone else’s dream that I’m trying to achieve? And do I want the lifestyle of the people who are where I think I want to be? So I’d go to the event with all the guys doing a bunch of phone sales. And I’d talk to them. And even at the events, when I go to events, I’m partying. I’m having a good time. I’m drinking. I’m bringing the fun. I’m not that worried about the next day. And these guys, they’re like, especially at this event, like, Oh, no, I gotta, I gotta be dialed in. And I realized it’s actually because running a phone sales business is so challenging that you need the event to do it. And you got to be focused in there. But all of them either worked constantly and weren’t very happy. Or if they didn’t work constantly, they did for an extended period of time. And then they have a sales manager. And almost every person there had fired what had had one of their sales managers quit. And then they had to restart and say like, man, none of these people are that stoked. You know, they all want to either sell the company or be done with what they’re doing. So why would I want to do that? You know, and so that’s part of it is just looking at other people who are where you think you want to be actually where you want to be.

Rob Marsh: So let’s talk a little bit about the discussion with your partner about breaking up because clearly he also was feeling something the same. It was mutual. But what was that discussion like and your mindset, his mindset going into it, coming out of it? How do you make sure that, you know, it stays amicable? I’m sure it helps the fact that you both were kind of done. But there’s a lot of risk going into a conversation like that where the other person takes a lot of offense, maybe it doesn’t go well. So I’m just interested in that whole discussion and how that all came together.

Ian Stanley: Yeah. I mean, I just knew I was like, we got to talk about this. So I had written out my idea on what that breakup could look like. I think that’s an important piece is like doing some math on what something might look like if you do separate. And so once we said, and he was like, dude, me too. It was like a huge relief, you know, in general. And then I was like, I have some ideas on how we could do it. And here’s what I was thinking. Cause he had 33% of the company and I had 66 and I had run the company for like four years before we partnered up. So, and it was my face and my name. Um, and so it was creating that win-win where I was also just like overly generous with, what I was willing to give away. And I wanted it to feel like we both walked away legitimately happy, not like one of us won. You know, you go, I won the breakup. I won the split. It’s like, no, no, no, we both won. And so, I mean, I think that was a big part of it was having an actual laid out kind of plan. of what this could, and it was a loose plan, but it ended up being pretty much exactly that when we did split it off. But we ended up, we had a great night. We had like as much fun as we had had in a long time that night, just drinking and hanging out because we were like, Oh, this is so freeing. We don’t need to go hire more people and do all this stuff. Like this makes sense. Um, and we did it over a couple of months. We didn’t rush it. It wasn’t like, yo, we’re done. Let’s finish this. It was very much like, Hey, let’s take our time. And. make sure this is right. And the hardest part was honestly for the employees, making sure that they understood where things were and trying to get everybody into a good position. So like one, I kept on one sales guy, but like the other one, I placed him with a girl I know who he ended up, he’s been killing it and doing ridiculously well there. He’s better off than he was with us. That felt really good. Another guy were like, I will help, we’ll help you get a job stuff. We didn’t have to do, but like, Making sure that each person still had a place to go if they weren’t part of the future plan, I think was a bigger thing almost because we just feel, we felt responsible for them. Even though you learn that employees will leave you at the first drop of a hat if they, you know, certain ones, if they find a better deal and you’re like dragging along this limping critter and then they get some off and you’re like, wow, why did I do that? Why did I, you know, and it’s just, it is that you should be fast to fire and slow to hire, but I’ve known that for years and basically practiced fast to hire and slow to fire. So now the team it’s, is literally just people I love. And that’s one of the coolest things is like when you hire, here’s a hit. One of the biggest lessons was when we were scaling, cause we’re scaling, you know, and you hear all the, we’re scaling bro. No expenses are real when you’re scaling. Every little software, every mastermind, every course, everything that falls across your lap when you’re scaling is not an expense, bro. It’s an investment, dude. And then you realize one day you’re like, Jesus, we’re spending $25,000 a month on these things we’re not using that we thought were important. And so I think there’s a delusion in this entrepreneurial scaling mindset that’s a little bit in the same way you’re hiring people that aren’t actually quite right. We’ll find a place where we need we need a CFO for our company that has really basic finances. Let’s go pay somebody five grand a month for an hour of work a month because it feels cool to have a CFO. Like, what are we doing? So, yeah, I think the biggest thing was just coming at it from a place of genuinely wanting us to both feel like we won when the breakup was over.

Kira Hug: And then how did you approach setting the vision for the next phase of your business when you were able to make that pivot and go off on your own again?

Ian Stanley: I mean, I think it really just came down to running a profitable company, like a really high margin company that’s fun to run. Part of the, probably the biggest problem with having a business partner and Cam could listen to this and be absolutely fine with me saying this. was this sense of guilt that you have when somebody else is a partner where like, it would snow. And I’m like, I really want to go snowboarding this morning, but I want him to know that I’m doing, and I don’t want him to think I’m not working. So therefore I’m not going to go snowboard when it’s just drops out seven inches of powder. And it’s not because I’m actually going to do less. It’s because of this weird guilt feeling that you want to, you feel beholden to this person. And so you want to really like, No, you want them to know that you’re pushing it and that you’re working and you’re doing stuff. And by doing that, at least for me personally, I ended up working way less than when I have all my freedom and I go snowboard and I go travel and I go do all the things I want to do. So that was definitely a big part of it was the vision was just, I want to do whatever I want whenever I want, which is what I had done for most of my life. And so it became, let’s run a high margin, you know, fun business. And I made a rule, I’m just not going to hire anybody new unless it’s absolutely necessary. We’re going to grow with just these people that I like, and I’m not going to just hire based on some concept of, oh, we need more people or this or that. And then for me, it was really just what lets me do stand up and what lets me focus on what matters to me most, which is stand up. So if there’s something that counteracts, because part of that, too, is when you have a business partner, that’s a big owner of the business, you feel like they should be involved in each thing you do in some way, and you want them to know, even though he’s like, no, no, I don’t care about you doing stand-up or this or that, you have this little part of you that’s like, yeah, but just so you know, this isn’t taken away from the business. And now it’s like, it doesn’t matter. It’s me. It’s my company. I can do what I want. And as long as I have the freedom and time to do stand-up and make YouTube videos and focus on that, then That’s the main thing.

You know, I’ve thought about getting rid of the business at times because I really like it. I like what I do. I love the testimonials. I love helping people. I love people saying, Oh, I just quit. Literally yesterday I was going to call him. This guy’s like, I quit my job. And I’m like, Oh, how long did you have it? Thinking he was going to be like a couple months. He’s like five years. And I quit and I’m full time doing email copy now. And I’m like, that feels great. And I love that. And that’s why I want my products to exist and to do that. But then I’m like, what would it be like to wake up and only do YouTube videos and standup? But then you also realize, well, if you have to make money from the thing that you love more than anything, like what’s so weird about standup is like people like, what would you do for free? What job would you do if nobody paid you? I paid to do standup. Like, Imagine a job you love so much that you would actually pay to do that job. Not only would you do it for free, you would pay.

So it’s like, okay, well, what situation can I create where that’s the main thing that I get to do? And if I didn’t have the amount of money coming in I had, then I’d have to take weird gigs or like, have this pressure of this. I think there’s certain things where you should burn the boats, go all in, put you back against the wall, make it work. But I would also have to replace like, I don’t know, 50 grand a month. So to have suddenly have 50 grand a month coming in from stand up in YouTube is not the same as 10 or 20. And so what it does is it actually gives me this insane amount of freedom to be able to do stand up purely from a place of creation until it’s making 100 grand a month. then I can replace, you know, the other thing. So I think it’s really like, it’s given me a ton of gratitude for this business where I’m like, I see these other comics and the second that shows up, they’re walking up to the owner of the club to make sure they’re getting paid, you know, their $1,200 or whatever it is. And I’m like, I don’t even take my future pay. I don’t care. Take my head. I don’t care. Like, this is fine. I’m just happy to be here and doing this. So it’s given me like a whole different approach where I don’t have to worry about the thing that most people are worried about, which is paying their bills and taking random gigs and random places and, you know, trying to make ends meet while they’re trying to build their audience. And they can’t necessarily hire a video guy or, you know, whatever these things might be. So it’s, it’s really just creating a, an environment for myself where I get to do as much of the fun as possible.

Rob Marsh: So Ian, you mentioned the goal really is to create this high margin company that’s fun to run. I think a lot of people like have that as the goal. So in some ways, this question is maybe an outline for a course, a future course of some kind, but what is the Ian Stanley formula for creating a high margin company that is fun to run? You know, the, the three steps or the 10 steps, or, you know, what are the pieces that we need to put in place in order to create that?

Ian Stanley: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, you know, actually had a real big realization, like a month and a half ago that we were running pretty much all of our traffic, not all well, not for the last six months or so, but all of our traffic to 90 days to freedom, which is the $2,000 course that teaches people how to write emails for other people. The business model that I’ve followed for ages is basically run ads to an opt in page, hopefully near break, even on day zero, and then make all of the money on the back end through the email list. partially through an order responder and then through more or less daily emails, selling other stuff, either stuff I’ve already created or new stuff. Honestly, the biggest thing is whenever I create new products, we’re really profitable and we lost sight of that as we’re trying to like, when you’re trying to scale a thing and you’re like, Oh, this is our main product. Let’s not get distracted by creating new products. I like creating new products. It’s really easy for me. I have like 60 courses and every time I do one, we make a bunch of money and it’s all profit. And so when I lost sight of creating products is when we would have low emergence. Because even if it’s an affiliate offer I do or promoting something I’ve promoted before, when I create something new, it’s just going to do really well. And it’s all profit.

And so basically it’s, can I get leads that are going to break even within right now on Facebook and Instagram, it’s like seven days, seven to 10, and then just make money on the backend from all of that. But basically with the 2k offer, we were breaking even on the front, but we didn’t have a backend. Like I don’t have a $7,500 coaching program because I just don’t want to coach people on how to get clients. It doesn’t interest me at all. Um, So the biggest difference that’s happened now is we built this AI tool. Actually, this guy built an AI tool, a customer of mine kind of behind my back, more or less. He went and took all my emails, trained this AI model, built this thing, sent it to me. And I was like, bro, I hate AI. Like, I don’t want to do this. I’m not interested. But that was honestly what I said. And I was just like, I mean, if I hadn’t, if I didn’t do stand up or make money online, I’d have a fax machine and no cell phone. I’d have a landline and a fax machine and no email and I would just live my life. And so AI to me was in a way not really a threat to writing because I found it to be so bad that I didn’t think it was a threat at all. It was more like annoying and who knows what’s going to happen with it. I had fiddled with it a little, but I just didn’t really enjoy it. And so he actually had sent me this tool and for a few months I just, I like looked at it and I was like, I don’t, I just don’t care. And then we were at our annual meeting in January and I was like, let’s just pull it open and play with it and see if it’s something that we could use to make selling 90 days a lot easier. Because the biggest pain point people have is getting their first client. And he built this client outreach tool where you can put in like, You fill out like six fields, it takes like 30 seconds and it spits out an email that’s like a custom personality driven email to this company. And I put in this fake coffee company and it wrote this email and literally each of us in the room is like, holy, this is like more human than most humans.

Okay, let’s do something with this. And so over the next month and a half or so, we figured out how to get the tool actually ready to go. And then we launched it. And I’ve never had such good testimonials like ever, like people are literally just like, I’m a subscriber for life. I’m never not going to be paying for this. It’s so good. And so it’s like, okay, well, let’s reassess kind of where we’re at. And so literally over the past month and a half, we have restructured the entire company where the sole goal of our business is to get people into the AI subscription. And there are people who are anti-AI and that’s fine. That’s kind of one of the cool parts of the story. I was anti-AI like I hated it. And here I am like, and it’s not to say that it’s going to replace a really good copywriter’s writing. Like I like writing, I’m still going to write, but it gives me ideas and sentences and lines and things. But for a normal person, they can literally put in two sentences and it will write like a more personality driven human email than most people write. And so to help like a normal business owner or a person trying to get clients, I’m like, Oh, this really actually works.

And so we’ve restructured basically everything we’re doing now is if we’re getting front end leads, are they people who could use the AI? If yes, we’ll run that traffic. If no, we won’t run that traffic, even if it was profitable, even if it was attracting people in the money space or something, but they, they weren’t email driven around it. Like then we’re not going to pull them in. So now that’s what’s really cool is this company has never been sellable because, I mean, theoretically it’s sellable, but it’s worth very little compared to what it earns because it’s so dependent upon Ian Stanley and my face and my name. So now having a software tool, just that recurring already, you can see it growing. And that’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen yet is because I’ve had memberships before, but when it’s an AI tool or a software tool where people like either it’s a part of their business or it’s not. Growing that is basically the primary focus at this point. And so it’s honestly, it’s like an incredible amount of clarity is the biggest difference is we’ve had, we’ve tried, like we do traction. You guys know what traction is the. So we do like a quarterly meeting and an annual meeting. We have an implementer who, you know, takes us through then every few months we’re changing directions, right? Let’s try this. Oh, we’re going to run ads to a Facebook group and we’re going to make millions. Oh, it didn’t work. We’re going to, let’s pivot, let’s do this. And now it’s like, no, no, let’s just get people into the tool. And so your whole business, like there’s a company I consulted for called USCCA. They do 250 million a year. And all they do is put people into their membership. And they’ve done that for 12 years. And that’s why they’re so successful.

When I asked the CEO, I’m like, are you into crypto right now? And he’s like, no. I’m like, man, you should be. You’re so rich. What? Because I want to get more people into the membership. Like that’s when you, the richest people I know are the least distracted. They have one goal and for most of them, it’s either they’re building an email list or they’re building a membership. And so that’s the biggest thing now is just when you have that singular focus, everything becomes significantly easier because you’re not questioning what should we do next? Is this the right thing to be working on? You just go, does it grow this? Yes or no. And I tried that. I had like a newsletter, this almost passive income newsletter. I’m like, this is it. Like it’s too broad. It’s not the right thing. So really just that clarity is the biggest thing of just like what we’re focused on. And then if I ever did want to sell the company, having a software is significantly more valuable than any other, you know, membership type. Uh, and then it’s not just Ian Stanley, it’s email game changes. And then it’s actually like a sellable asset. So many people think they have a company they can sell and you’re like, no, you don’t. You have a personality.

Kira Hug: What advice would you pull from that that would be relevant to copywriters listening? I mean, you shared one around focus, but is there anything else we could pull from that, even if we’re not creating our own AI tool?

Ian Stanley: Yeah, I’d say, is it mainly copywriters who listen to this, like people who write for other people?

Kira Hug: Yeah.

Ian Stanley: So get really good at one thing and be more narrow than you think is probably what I would say. get really good at writing health emails or credit, you know, the credit space emails, or find an area where you don’t have to keep doing research again and again, and just get really, really good at understanding that market and that demographic. And then anytime you write for that space, it’s just significantly less work, but also like, are you working on the right things? Being a copywriter, there’s two skills. I compare it to being a doctor, like the best doctors, aren’t necessarily the ones who make the most money. The richest doctors are the ones who run the best business practice. They have the best practice. They may not be the best surgeon, but they run the best business. And with copywriters, there’s lots of good copywriters making $5,000 a month who are better writers than people making $10,000 or $15,000. But they forget that there’s also the business side of copywriting, which is getting clients, keeping clients, really getting clients. Because if you’re good, you should keep them.

That’s the other thing about writing email instead of writing VSLs and sales pages and stuff is that it’s recurring. Like if you’re writing emails for people, they’ve got to keep paying you every month because you’ve got to keep having emails every month. Whereas like I’ll charge 25 grand for a sales letter, which I rarely, rarely ever do anymore because I just, if I write my own and that’ll take me an hour and a half rather than, you know, a week for someone else, I’m going to make more than 25 grand. But it’s one-off, you know, you make it, And then it’s gone. And now you’ve got to get another client and another client. So I think from a focus perspective or from a skill perspective, focus on one skill at a time. So if you want to get better at copy, don’t try to get better at copy, get better at a specific element of it.

When I was at Crisis Education, I remember I was not very good at transitions. So I was really good at writing like sections. Like I could write a great lead. I could write a great little value piece or an argument. But the way they transitioned was pretty weak. It felt like what I call like hammer transitions where you’re just getting hit over the head by a hammer rather than like a sandpaper transition where it’s very smooth. And so for like two weeks, I would just work on transitions. And then once I’ve done that, I’m like, okay, I’m going to work on using more interesting words. And so for two weeks, I’m working on more interesting words. Or for a month, you’re going to work on just leads. And that’s going to be the most important thing always is going to be a lead in sales letters. So just spend a month on leads, then a month on writing really good closes. Don’t try to get better at everything at once. Get better at one thing. It’s like if you’re playing tennis, don’t try to improve your forehand and your backhand and your serve all at the same time. Just work on your forehand for a couple of weeks. then move to your back end, then work on your serve. Don’t try to get better at all the things, because you probably will get better at nothing. It’s just another, I guess, focus. Do less, better. That’s the main advice I give to most people when I consult now, is just do less, better. Because I was the number one doer of all things mediocrely. Just chasing so many different things in so many directions. Just get rid of everything that’s not actually essential. and then do that one thing really, really well.

Rob Marsh: So Ian, before we run out of time, I want to ask you about comedy. Obviously, there are at least those of us that know a lot of copywriters, there are a lot of copywriters who do stand up. Obviously, Kevin Rogers, you’ve done it. Justin Blackman. Amy does like there, there’s so many people that do it. And so clearly, there’s a connection between the creativity of writing, standing up in front of people exposing yourself a little bit. But just walk us through how you think about stand up. And then, you know, after you’ve shared all of those stand up secrets, tell us how to access your comedy special.

Ian Stanley: Yeah, so I think maybe the most relevant thing to everybody here would be, so I recorded my special November 4th and 5th, so did three shows in two days. And I always had this idea that you’ve got to be perfect on stage because that’s what goes out. And then you realize, oh no, you get to edit. And so you literally take these pieces. So I spent at least 50 hours Watching the special and and I don’t actually do the editing of like pressing the buttons and stuff but editing for story Essentially of what’s going where what you’re killing in stand-ups very similar to copy where? What’s weird is when you start doing stand-up you just you want people to laugh You know and you’re happy when they laugh then when you get good at it You literally have to kill jokes that get good laughs. So you’re you’re not Like there are parts of the special that I cut completely that I really liked that get good laughs, but it’s not quite as good as the other ones. It’s not quite as the same level. And does it fit the narrative? So does it, does, what is the sequence of events? It’s like with a sales page, you can write the best copy ever, but if it’s in the wrong order, it’s not going to convert very well. It’s the same with standup. You’ve got to present things in the right sequence. So I’m very controversial with my standup.

So just as a precursor here, if you are going to go by the special, uh, if you’re easily offended, please do not. You will have a terrible time. The special is called controversial. If that gives you any sort of ideas to what it’s like. So, um, what I’ve learned, I’ve got these few new bits I’m working on right now. I had some shows this weekend and they’re very edgy. Even for me, it’s pushing the boundaries. Now, 10 years ago, it wouldn’t have been. It’s not actually offensive. It’s just words that you’re not supposed to say anymore. And I’m talking about the show Love on the Spectrum and Down for Love, which is the show about autistic people and people with Down syndrome. And you can say a very different thing 30 minutes into a show than you can one minute into a show. And it’s the same with a sales page where once you’ve presented certain facts or stories or things, you can say very different things 15 minutes into a sales letter than you can at the first minute. And you have to get people in. You have to get people on your side. You have to win them over. And a special is different than on stage, because on stage, people aren’t going to just walk out of the show unless you really suck or you really offend people or something. They’re not going to leave. With a special, you have 10 to 15 minutes as the inflection point. That’s my own. And from everybody I’ve talked to, that’s what they say as well, is basically if they put a special on, they’re giving it 10 to 15 minutes to say, I’m going to keep watching or I’m done. If you make it past that 10 to 15 minutes, you’re going to make it to 60 or 70 minutes, however long the special is. So as I’m editing this thing, what I really, one of the biggest lessons I learned was I have never worked this hard on a sales letter in my entire life. Like not even close. I basically write something and then I go, here it is. And I don’t edit, I don’t go back. I don’t rewatch my own videos. And I was like, what if I had one VSL that I worked this hard on? It would probably make literally millions and millions of dollars on repeat, if I just gave that much of a to sit and watch it again and again and again.

And with comedy, you can’t go rerecord. So even if there’s bits, I’m like, I wish I’d said this, or this could be a little different. Or that’s not quite there. With a VSL or something, you can go rerecord that you can, you know, film it again or whatever. So if I was just like, man, if I put this effort into something, I can’t imagine how good it would be. Like that was one of the lessons was just like, wow, this is what it feels like to try. You know, and which is a very good feeling. But those first 10 to 15 minutes is such a crucial piece where I have like seven minutes of crowd work in the beginning. We’re part of it. I don’t want people to think it’s a crowd work special, but it’s so it hits so hard that it was like, I can’t not put this in here. And I had my parents watch it, which was a fun thing in itself. And I was like, what’d you guys think of the crowd work in the beginning? Should I get rid of that? And they’re like, no, that might’ve been the best part. Cause people love crowd work so much that no matter how good your jokes are, the, just complete spontaneity and like unplanned piece of crowd work, people just love it.

But those first 10 to 15, we cut this bit about me being English in America, where I talk about dating girls, because even though it’s funny, I kind of sound like a dick. If you aren’t on my side already, and it’s too big a risk in the first 10 or 15 minutes for people to go, this guy, I already look like a douchebag. I already look like I started a frat or, you know, like, and I talk about what I look like and make fun of myself, but you really need to win people over. And so even though it’s funny, there’s a chance that new people wouldn’t, would find me unlikable from that, to be honest. And so it gets cut. And that’s emotionally challenging to cut these bits that you like, that you think should be there, but you realize they don’t serve the narrative or they don’t serve the greater purpose of what it is. But it’s also, comedy is the same as sales. It’s a transfer of feelings. If I’m afraid of a bit, especially because I do really controversial stuff, if I’m afraid of that bit, the audience will be afraid of that bit. If I don’t give them permission to laugh, then they won’t laugh. If I just go, you know what, this thing crazy, and I’m going to say it, and I’m going to laugh probably too, because I actually think it’s funny, then they’re going to as well. And so there’s that permission and that transfer of energy and feelings. And a lot of stand-up is just working on how relaxed you are. within a bit and just committing, especially to the edgy stuff. You just got to commit. You go, this is, this is what I’m doing. I’m saying, so I know what I’m saying is what is not what I’m supposed to say. I understand that if I was at a dinner party as just a normal person, I’d probably be kicked out of that dinner party. It’d be a pretty boring dinner party, to be honest, if they kicked me out, but you’re pushing the boundaries. And so it’s, it’s your presentation of it. It’s the same as like any VSL or ad. I can give you the same exact, script and have you say it five different ways and one of those five is going to outperform the other by 30 to 50 percent simply by how I say it and the energy I say it with or the background.

The background for the special actually well this isn’t on video but I have this huge half American half British flag in the background and it looks like a Netflix special like the production quality is insanely high. If my background was just the black curtains from the club it would look like a YouTube special. And so it’s the same with ads. We have the best ad that we continue to run that I somehow can’t beat is me driving in my truck. And for some reason, people just like when I’m in my truck. I don’t know why. I’ll record a video in front of a fjord in Norway or in Amsterdam in canals or in Paris. And I’m like, this ad’s going to crush. Nope, they want me in my truck. But we recently did one where I’m on a hoverboard. And I’m drinking, I have a gallon of milk in my hand. And I do not acknowledge the gallon of milk at any point. So I’m just carrying a gallon of milk and I take a drink and I don’t say anything about it. And that ad is the only one now that’s truly competing with the truck ad. And it’s just that, it’s just being interesting. It’s just finding ways to do something that other people haven’t done and had, you know, just not be boring. uh, within the context of what you’re doing. And so it’s, uh, it’s an insane, if it’s also adding movements, you know, if you’re doing a bit about a T-Rex, well, act like a T-Rex and it’s going to add to that bit. So with ads, with comedy, with sales pages, literally, if you can be doing something in the video, that’s not related, you’re going to get more people to pay attention than if you just stand in front of a white wall and say words.

Kira Hug: I think it’s worth talking about if you’re comfortable talking about what it takes to get your own stand-up special. I mean that’s something that’s coveted and I’m sure there are many writers listening who would love to do that or something similar. What does it actually take to do that?

Ian Stanley: Money.

Kira Hug: I had a feeling it was money.

Ian Stanley: Yeah, I mean. What else? Beyond that, it’s also you got to be able to sell out. You got to be able to sell out a show. or preferably three to four. We ended up using about 80% from the third show, about 10% from the second show, or maybe 15% from the second show, and maybe 5% from the first show. And it’s not that that show wasn’t good or anything like that. It’s just the energy was so high on the third one. And I’d had two shows to dial in material. But I mean, I spent about $20,000 on it. And so the production company who did it, I mean, he did all the trailers for like Marvel movies and all these, you know, they’ve done stuff for Netflix and all that. And so I spent, I wanted to look incredible rather than like decent for like, but for like five or 10 grand, you can get a pretty good special film, but you do have to be able to sell out a room. So like I had to sell, you know, 500 tickets for three shows. So you have to have some sort of a, either an audience, I used ads. I mean, I have an audience in standup, but not all of them are here in Boise where you’re going to be able to do that. So the comedy club, I’ve developed a relationship with them. I said, Hey, I want to film my special here and book this weekend. So you booked the weekend. And then I ran Facebook ads to a, uh, 50% off for the ticket. Cause I don’t care how many, I don’t care what they pay. I’m not trying to make money. I made a few grand from the, from the weekend of shows. Um, but I, I just wanted a full room, you know, I just wanted it to be full.

So you got to be able to sell out the room, which again, which was, that was, that’s been, what’s really fun is to use direct response to grow this other thing. And so we recorded like 20 ads and then I, and they were all fine. And then honestly, energetically, I just got to the space and I sat on this cannon in front of the, um, Boise capital and just, was being a silly goose and my legs were dangling like a toddler in a high chair, like sitting on this cannon. And that ad got 95% of all the ad spend and, you know, probably 50% of the sales came from an ad to fill the special. And so, and then I hired the production company. I mean, and then you’ve got to work for years on your material and dial in what that, you know, what that special is going to be. And then you got to edit out of it. I mean, you could theoretically just throw it out as is, like just what the people experienced in the room.

But the difference is going to be just a speed, like how quick that special feels where you cut out any moment that’s not a nine. Even if it’s a seven, you go now, let’s just and even there’s one little bit in the special right now, there’s about two minutes that I think are a little slower than the rest, and I just didn’t quite have time to figure out how to cut the intro without losing the end of the joke, because the end of the joke’s very good. So if I release it again later in a different place, I may cut those two minutes, but that’s being super nitpicky over an hour and nine minutes of special. But yeah, you’ve got to work on the material, the sequence, your energy. You don’t just go and record a special if you’re not good at it at that point. I mean, actually, lots of people do. Netflix has many specials that are not very good. But yeah, I mean, I think that’s the biggest thing. Any questions you have from your perspective, I’d be happy to answer. That’s kind of my thoughts.

Rob Marsh: I’m curious what the goal here is, Ian. You know, when you spend 20 grand on a special and you’re selling ads to advertise it, you know, or to get it out there, so it’s even more spend there. I mean, just to break even, you’ve got to sell, you know, I think it’s $15, you know, to get in. If nobody uses a discount or whatever to buy it, you’ve got to sell 1,400 people, right, to break even and then even more with ads. So, and then also, you know, with something this controversial, it’s probably, you know, a lot of people aren’t looking to saying, Hey, we can put Ian in a, you know, in a TV pilot or, you know, that kind of thing. So what’s the goal here for you? Is it just expression, creative expression, having fun, or is there some bigger thing?

Ian Stanley: No, I’m going to make a ton of money from this. Okay. From standup is my belief. That sounded a little bit douchey, but what I, the purpose of the special is to build a fan base. So, um, I believe that I’m not chasing money in standup and in acting, but I know that once it’s there, it’ll be a lot and it’ll probably be more than business has ever been or anything. Standup’s weird. You either kind of make no money, you make enough to pay some bills or you make like tens of millions a year, you know, for the higher end guys. Right. So I do want to do TV shows. I do want to do movies. I think part of that’s going to be that I have to write my own.

And that’s the novel I’m working on is essentially a screenplay that I’ve turned into novel format, which I won’t say what it is because it’s good enough. It’s one of the only ideas I’ve had where I go, this is a very stealable, good idea. I wonder about that with the TV pilot stuff, but you see like Shane Gillis, he’s got his own coming out now and he said all the most offensive things possible. And so I think, I think culture has shifted back where people are kind of like, whatever, this is ridiculous to cancel people for words. And so I think it’s shifted. I mean, there are things that people are always going to be offended by. But also if you do watch the special, you’ll see there’s no malice like that’s my my barometer for myself is. Is this joke malicious? Am I trying to be mean to a group of people like I have? like for trans jokes. And one of the waitresses at the club is trans and she loves it. Literally came out after the special was like, where is this going to go? I can’t wait to watch. Like, this is so cool. And so to me, that shows this is jokes. You understand that I’m messing around. There’s no malicious intent here. And that’s super important to me because I’m not trying to be mean. There’s a difference. I think there’s certain comics who hear talk about a topic and you can feel like an undertone of actual maliciousness towards that group of people. That’s not my goal. But so the goal, the goal with the special is to build a fan base, like a, so that I can do a tour and sell out the tour without having to work my ass off at selling tickets so that I can go places, do standup.

So the first thing would be to be able to go and sell out comedy clubs across America and sell out clubs. Then in a year or two, be able to do theaters and then in, you know, three, four years, be able to do arenas and stadiums and that type of thing. And so that is the goal is to do this as the only thing that I do. And YouTube, I love making sketches and YouTube videos and stuff. And so I think with a lot of what I’ve learned in marketing and stuff, I can apply that to the online realm in a way that others can’t necessarily, and invest in production and things. And so the goal here is really just, if I can break even on this special, great. But ultimately, after the release on Moment, which is where it’s at now, which is a paid thing, there’ll be a second release in a few months somewhere else. And I don’t know exactly how that’s going to go. But the goal is, I don’t care if it’s free and it’s on YouTube and I don’t make a dime, but a million people watch it and I get 100,000 true fans who are willing to go to any show in their city. That’s the goal, because the money comes from touring and then other stuff.

The other difference is I have a merch company that I started called Feed the Wolf, where we have our rated like comedy merch. So I won’t say the the merchandise on there. If you want to go to Feed the Wolf dot com, you can see it. But the words on the shirts and stuff are not exactly appropriate for this podcast. But we have mugs and t-shirts and things. And really, the way that the biggest YouTubers make their money is from their own businesses that they own. And so my goal is, if I can spend money to grow the channels and things, whether it’s through production or whatever it is for the videos, and then I can make that back through people buying merch, on my site, then I can at least break even and just grow and reinvest into growth. So the goal is absolutely just a fan base of people that are genuine, true fans. And then the money will follow. I know how to monetize stuff. It’s just about growing an audience of people who are like truly want to see everything you do.

Rob Marsh: I suppose if Jimmy Carr can land a TV show, there’s a space for anybody who does that brand of comedy to land a TV show.

Ian Stanley: Yeah, and it’s very, my jokes are very, very different than his brand is very much jokes. Mine’s, you know, storytelling and different stuff, but there’s only two comics in America who’ve made it that are English really. And that’s Ricky Gervais is probably my favorite comic. It’d be more, my stuff’s more similar to that. But Ricky and Jimmy have both made it here, which is really interesting because most English and Scottish, well, Scottish comics can’t make it in America because English people can’t understand, or American people can’t understand. Nobody can understand them. Yeah. There are even times that I’m like, okay, can you, what are you, what are you saying? Yeah. So it’s a weird thing because they don’t really make it and being half English and half American, it’ll be, I’m really interested to see how it translates for me as like building a fan base in England. And in America, and then I’ll end up with a big Australian fan base just because they think I’m one of them. So that’ll be interesting to see.

But yeah, I think worrying about, it’s a really fine line to start cutting your own jokes, because they might be too offensive. And I actually went and saw Ricky Gervais in Norway a month before I recorded my special. And he had this bit. We had a bunch that’s just like so far. It’s the Armageddon special. And it was so good. And my girlfriend, I left and I had this bit that I was probably not going to do in the special. And then we both went, if Ricky said that bit, we would have gone. That’s so funny. And that’s genius that he did that. And I think if there’s one, if you start to draw a line somewhere, then you, you just start moving that line to be like, Oh, I don’t want to offend. You just got to say whatever you want. And if it goes too far, then deal with it. I just think if you start to self-censor, you lose the best parts of yourself.

Kira Hug: Well, I think what you said originally is most important here, just pulling the audience in initially in the first 10, 15 minutes so they like you. And then you can take them wherever you want to take them to whatever jokes you want to present because they’re on your side.

Ian Stanley: Yeah, if you open up with your absolute most insane bit, they might just not be ready for it. And they’re like, okay, whoa. Can you ease us in?

Kira Hug: Let’s do a little bit of foreplay for this. I need a drink before this starts.

Ian Stanley: Yeah, exactly.

Kira Hug: All right. Well, where can we find your special? If we want to check out your special, where should we go?

Ian Stanley: Yeah, go to slash Ian Stanley. And it’s there and you can use the code Stanley for $5 off since you’re a copywriter. Um, and then, uh, feed the has the merge. Um, and then if it does, if you’re past, there’s like a 30 day viewing window. So I don’t know when this will come out, but if it’s not there, just, uh, go to my Instagram at becoming in Stanley and you’ll find out when I released the next one.

Rob Marsh: And I think if, if people hit your, your Instagram, but get a sense of what the jokes are like, and whether they’re a fit for actually purchasing the special or not. Might be a good place to start.

Ian Stanley: Exactly. And then if you want to just get on my email list and you try out the AI tool, that’s And then you can see if I’m actually good at email and test out the tool. There’s a right now $1 trial, but it might be a free trial by the time you get there, Adam.

Rob Marsh: Excellent. Thanks.

Kira Hug: Thanks, Ian. Thank you. I’m excited to see where everything goes for you with your show and maybe Netflix will pick it up.

Ian Stanley: Maybe. We’ll see. We’ll see. It’ll be someday. Yeah. If it’s not this year, next.

Rob Marsh: That’s the end of our interview with Ian Stanley. I want to add just a bit more color to a couple of the ideas that we talked about with Ian. Ian talked in depth about sales training, the training that he provided for his team. And I think there’s a lot to be taken away from what Ian was sharing, even if you are the only person doing sales for your business. And for most of us as copywriters, that’s the way that our businesses are. We are the salesperson, we’re the writer, we are the support team. So what Ian shared that he was telling his team is also applicable to us as individuals. Number one, you’ve got to believe in yourself. You’ve got to believe in the product that you’re selling and your ability to deliver. And as you talk with your clients, just to get them to the point where they can see you are confident in delivering what it is that you’re selling. I love that Ian focused on no high pressure tactics or the fake sales tactics, that he really wants people leaving a sales call feeling good. We should also be feeling the same way. There’s no reason to push somebody to make a decision on a call, a decision that they’re not ready to make. And it’s always a good reminder that you’re not selling the result.

You’re selling freedom. You’re figuring out the thing that your prospect wants and you’re focusing on that. And I know we’ve talked about this a lot on the podcast, but that looks like this on a sales call. Your client is asking you for something, usually a deliverable like a website or a sales page or an email sequence. But what you’re really delivering isn’t a web page or a sales page or an email sequence. It’s the thing underneath the thing, the thing that a web page gets you or the thing that a sales page gets you. And oftentimes that’s going to be authority, believability, credibility. Oftentimes it’s going to be sales and revenue.

Sometimes it’s going to be something like retention and being able to bring people back for a second or a third purchase. It’s those things that you’re really selling. So those are the things that you want to focus on in the sales call. Not necessarily the web page, not necessarily the sales page or whatever, but it’s the thing underneath the thing. And the faster, the better that we can understand what our clients are looking for, the better we are going to be on our own sales calls. I also love the “ask your wife” objection or “ask my partner” objection. We talked a bit about that. Obviously, A traditional sales team will push you to make a decision on a call, but we’ve always taught copywriters that that’s actually a good thing when somebody says, Hey, I want to talk this over with my partner because if the partner supports the decision, they often become a second part of your sales team. They’re basically encouraging the person you’ve been talking to. to invest in themselves or to do what they believe is going to be best for their business. And so rather than pushing somebody who wants to talk it over with a partner to make a decision now, I think it’s usually going to be better to say, go ahead, have that discussion.

Here are all the things that you can share with your partner about why you’re making this decision or why you think this is a good idea for your business and come back and let me know. And like I said, oftentimes they will become a backup sales team for you. Another thing that we chatted about that I think is worth drawing a line under is this idea of knowing whether to push through or quit. Specifically, we’re talking about this as we talked about the end of this partnership. But this happens a lot in our business. We have a product that maybe doesn’t sell as well or a service that we’re getting tired of providing. And oftentimes, understanding what the end goal is and whether or not you’re climbing a mountain that you want to get to the top of or not is a really good framework for helping you decide, is this where I want to be spending my time?

This reminds me of our interview with Kieran Drew just a few weeks ago, where he had invested years into his dental career and then understands he needs to make a switch. And at some point, you’ve got to stop investing in the thing that no longer serves you, get off of that ladder and start climbing up a different mountain, a different ladder, or have a different goal. Might be worth going back and listening to that Kieran Drew episode if this is the kind of thing that you’re dealing with in your own life or business.

And then finally, we talked a lot about how to build that high margin company. Ian walked through some of the specifics and I just want to emphasize some of this because oftentimes as copywriters in our own businesses, we do not do these things. Most copywriters do not run ads. to an opt-in for their products or services. Obviously, this is something we will usually do with training or physical products, but it can also be done for services. Oftentimes, copywriters aren’t thinking about sales on the back end. As you sell that first service, how does that turn into another sale later down the line. Again, this is something that we tend to do with webinars or physical products, training, that kind of stuff when we sell it, but don’t necessarily think about it as much when we’re selling services and we’re talking about actually providing content and copy for our clients. So it might be worth just thinking, you know, what would my business look like if I did run some ads to sell my services or if I did have a backend product or a second service that I can add on after I sell that first service in order to become more high revenue in my business. Definitely worth thinking about as you build your business as well.

We want to thank Ian Stanley for joining us to talk about creating a high margin company that is fun to run. Also talking about email and comedy and so much more. And as he said at the end of our discussion, you can find him on Instagram at Becoming Ian Stanley. He also mentioned a couple of websites where you can find his trainings. You might want to check that out. If you decide to check out his comedy special, be warned, Ian is not joking when he said his comedy is pretty offensive. His show is something to watch without the kids in the room. And in some cases, you may not even want your partner to be in the room. So you’ve been warned, but feel free to check that out if that’s of interest to you. If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please share it with a friend or associate who might also enjoy or learn from it. You can always leave us a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. We always appreciate those.


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