Arthur DOMINATES SOCIAL MEDIA – He’s cracked the code on generating huge results online. He’s going to show you exactly how he does this so you can too. Arthur launched a Tech startup, Free Blog Factory and co-founded Social Spin. He’s an entrepreneur with a passion for training, coaching, and inspiring growth in others. He’d landed several speaking engagements all over the world and got the “the Twitter Kid of Fort Lauderdale” by a local business magazine.
He started his own painting company at the age of 19. Then, within two years, became one of the top franchises in the country. But that’s just the beginning. You see, after moving on from his painting, he helped create a multi-billion dollar pipeline in a matter of months. And then, of course, 2007 happened. As a financial market started to crash, he began evaluating other opportunities. That’s when it all exploded!
Passion is the KEY with Arthur Tubman
My guest is Arthur Tubman. He started his own painting company at the age of nineteen, then within two years became one of the top franchises in the country. After moving on from his painting company, he helped create a multi-billion-dollar pipeline in a matter of months. Then 2007 happened, and as the financial market started to crash, he began evaluating other opportunities. We know how entrepreneurs work, never stopping and never slowing down, Arthur discovered the world of social media. Now he teaches it, coaches on it, and speaks about it all the time. He then created the Free Blog Factory and is now the CEO and Founder of D4Y Brand Builder, a digital marketing agency. Arthur Tubman, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Mitch. Excited to be here.
Tell us about that painting business and how you made it into the position you’re in today?
I started as an entrepreneur in a paint franchise company that was designed for college students learning about business and learning about entrepreneurship. It was my first gateway into the business world. In a very short period of time, I evolved in that company and became one of the top in the top 10 franchises in the entire country. There is about 600 franchises nationwide and also in Canada at the time. It was a good opportunity. I learned a lot about business. I learned a lot about sales and marketing, but it was a start to my career. As I evolved and went down a different path, I got into financial and mortgage, and 2007 and 2008 we had that big burst in the economy and subprime markets crashed and I had to transition. I found myself jumping around from thing to thing, and I finally found myself in a real estate opportunity. A lot of people that meet me are like, “You’re so lucky. You grew up on the internet, you’re young, and this probably comes easy to you.”
The truth is I don’t even have a computer until eighteen, and I started using for marketing or for business until I was in my mid-twenties. I started to learn social media after a couple of nudges from a couple of friends, to create more leverage in my business. I wanted to create more leads, I wanted to create more sales. The truth is I was going out middle of the night putting out roadside signs and doing flyers and going to networking events. Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, so for me to go to a networking event was stepping outside my comfort zone, but I did it anyway because I had to. I had to grow my business.
When I got online, it was like a breath of fresh air. It excited me. I saw my business start to evolve and things started to move along. I launched a couple of local courses where I would teach local business owners how to use social media, how to use twitter, or how to use Facebook and YouTube to help them grow their business and everything was going well. I came up with an idea called Free Blog Factory, where we essentially helped people get self-hosted WordPress blogs for free, hence the name Free Blog Factory. I ended up recruiting six business partners, and we ended up moving out to California and we recorded the whole thing.
We started a web-based reality show called Unstrapped Reality TV for Entrepreneurs, and we filmed the whole process of working together in a single house, raising capital, networking, what it takes to run a software company. We recorded this whole process, and we ended up getting a feature in a big newspaper in California called the Orange County Register. We got about 2,000 calls from local business owners, being like “We need help with our social media. Can you help us manage our brand?” The truth is we didn’t have a service to offer them. I saw a huge gap in the market, I saw a lot of demand, and I ended up leaving that company. The one thing that I requested in my settlement from that company was the list that came in all those people I called, because I saw this huge gap that I could fill with helping business owners grow. That’s when I launched D4Y Brand Builder, which is the company that I currently run and operate. It’s helping business owners scale online through community building, through brand building, and driving online traffic.
Clearly you were subjected to the shiny object syndrome. Many entrepreneurs are, when you’re searching for that thing and looking for your niche. It took some time to find it, but what was it that finally made you choose the one you did?
I enjoy helping businesses get past the plateau where they’re at. I do calls with business owners that have been in their business for a couple of years, two to four years, and they’re stuck. They don’t know how to evolve. They don’t know how to grow from that point, and they want to grow but they’re over- leveraged, out of time, or they’re burned out. They’re not using digital marketing in a way that they can be using it. One of the reasons I stuck with my agency is because I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping people get past those points of being stuck and seeing how they could leverage the internet to help them grow their businesses.
Most of the entrepreneurs that I know of have more or less started a business but having quite gotten to the point of scale. You took a business from zero to 2,000 people, and it sounds like you did that quite quickly. Can you tell us about those beginning times and what you had to do to get it from client number one to client number 2,000?
I’m going to go back to Free Blog Factory, because we launched our business and it was quite challenging. We did it through webinars. A lot of us went to our market and we started doing promotions through the webinar marketing. Showing people that there’s a gap, showing people there’s a problem, showing people that we have the solution for them, and just hustling to get in front of them and show them the solution that we have. The biggest thing that helped us see the success is the consistency. It wasn’t so much the skill set that we had or the fact that our software is awesome, it was more about consistency. Every single day grinding, every single day hustling, every single day getting in front of one more person, getting in front of ten more people, getting in front of 100 more people, to show them what we had, and it came down to the habits.
You can learn skill sets, you can learn how to use Facebook marketing, you can learn how to run Facebook ads, you can learn how to make videos, and you can figure out what equipment to buy to host a podcast. You can learn all those things, but if you don’t have good habits, whether it’s money management habits or time management habits or habits about your mindset and personal development or making sure that you have mentors around you, people have been there before, then none of those skill sets matter. You can be the smartest person, but if you don’t have consistency and if you don’t have good habits, then none of the skill sets would matter for you.
Were you afraid of failing? What motivated you to get busy like that? What was the thing that got you to do that?
People in general are typically either afraid of success or are afraid of failure because of how others are going to perceive them. I don’t want to say I’m unique, but I don’t think I was ever afraid of failure, because all the failures that I had along the way is what got me to the success that I have now. When I go back and look at the experience with our software company with Free Blog Factory, one of the biggest challenges that we had early on is the fact that people are going to have issues with their blogs. We didn’t factor in the customer service nightmare that we were going to create, when we would wake up and we have a thousand plus support tickets waiting for us in our inbox.
One of the biggest lessons for me was creating a system around whatever it is you’re doing and showing your customers love, showing your prospects love. Because happy customers are an extremely important part of your business, and it’s what it takes to have long term success in any business. No matter what you have, you’ve got to have people standing behind you, and for me personally, I wasn’t afraid to fail. I wasn’t very organized early on, and so I found myself and this constant challenge, not so much fulfillment, but on servicing the customers and showing them an awesome experience early on. I wasn’t set up for it, and that was one of the biggest lessons early on, to learn and to perfect the whole process.
Most of us as entrepreneurs aren’t set up for scale. Most of us that started a business started because we find someone interested in buying or purchasing or paying us to do something. We start a business and we start working and then somebody else hears about it and then we start working on that project as well. We create a product and that product starts to sell and that’s how the business starts. Very few people I’ve met have a growth perspective when they start. Most people have a start perspective, and it’s not unusual to hear your story. Many are in that place of getting started and not having the system. Tell us about the system itself that you used to figure out how to get through those thousand trouble tickets.
We had to back up. Our first month, we had 2,000 customers and the next month we had 4,000. We had a machine that we couldn’t slow down. We had to back up and look at the holes that we had in our business. The biggest hole that we had was we had a customer service nightmare. We started by creating a customer service division and hiring staff to manage that emails. We created e-mail support and we created chat support. This is back in 2010, when chat support is a cutting edge for software companies, but we started focusing on the customer. Even if we didn’t have a solution for them right then and there, we’re going to do whatever it takes to figure it out. What it came down to was creating the division, letting go of the control of wanting to do everything on my own or with my partners, and giving people in our company more autonomy to start to service our customers and rise to the occasion in the roles that they were put into.
The assignment that you gave yourself was called delegation. You got to delegate. You got to select people to step in and help you out, and it sounds like you did that pretty easily. It wasn’t that easy for me. I had to learn the hard way. After burning myself out, I only then chose to figure out how to delegate. It was painful, because I always thought that I could do things better than anyone I could hire. It was hard for me, and it sounds like you were more easy going about it, because I couldn’t imagine turning over stuff. Did you have any difficulty delegating, or did it come very natural to you?
I wouldn’t say it came natural. It may sound that way with me explaining it. It was it was difficult for me and all my partners. We were all young guys in our early and mid-twenties, and so the idea of letting go of control in this baby, this business was like our baby. We don’t want to let go of it. It was challenging, but I learned a long time ago that you got to focus on the things you’re good at and outsource everything else. As hard as that is to actually do, it’s something we have to do if we want it to truly scale our business. There’s no way around it. The only way around it is to eventually implode. We were going to continue bringing clients in. I’ve heard people say things like all press is good, and good press and bad press. I don’t believe that. There’s enough bad press the company is going to eventually go under, and we don’t want to see that happen, so we let go of our egos. We left them at the door, and we started to delegate and give people responsibilities even when we’re most uncomfortable with it.
This happens quite suddenly for you where you went from almost zero to 2000 clients very quickly. Did you bring customer service people in from overseas? Did you hire locally? Did you hire virtually. Tell us about the mechanics of that.
When we first started with our first tech company, we actually did go local. We wanted to be able to see the whole process, and we didn’t have a whole lot of experience of outsourcing to freelancers overseas. Over the years, I have definitely outsourced overseas, but in the early going we started local. We went to the local community. We were all working out of a big house in San Clemente California, and we had employees driving to our house to work every single day 9:00 to 5:00. We wanted to be able to let go of control, but at the same time be able to still control some of the process and see how it works before we went to remote work situations.
You perfect the process in-house, and then you move it outside of the premises. When you did move it outside the premises, what did you do? How did you then build that team?
It comes down to creating good checklists, good systems, and step by step processes. If you were to look at my agency right now, virtually every single department, whether it’s social media, development, design or copywriting, it’s got to step by step checklist. Even with the courses that I run where I’m teaching people how to build communities, everything has a step by step paint by numbers process that people follow. It creates not only self-accountability, but it creates overall accountability in the business, making sure you don’t miss any steps and making sure that you follow things the way that they’re meant to be followed. In the early going, it was trial by fire.
Making notes or writing down what we’re doing every single step of the way. When we make a mistake, we make a note of that and do our best not to make the same mistake multiple times. We’re human, it’s going to keep happening. It’s going to keep coming up. We just keep making notes of it until we have a very outline-detailed process for every single part of the business. Some people look at it and they’re like, “It’s crazy and it’s too strict. Don’t you want to have freedom?” I want to have freedom, and in order to have freedom I’ve got to have systems and processes that work.
That’s a very common trait of successful business people, that they have systems and processors. Was there any particular software product, program, or service that you used to help you scale the company?
Communication is really important, and I can give some of the systems that we used throughout the years, but mostly things like project management software like Basecamp or Trello works well for interaction with your clients and your team. One of the tools that I absolutely live on almost every single day is called Slack. We use that for both internal communications with the team as well as client communication. It’s very easy to miss something on a call and it’s very easy to miss something if you have a bunch of Google docs spread out all over the place, but having that constant flow of communication on something like slack helps us with saying on top of everything that we’re doing.
Slack has become a phenomena of sorts. I have five Slack entry rooms for five different companies that I work with, so for me it’s an important element of my everyday work. You talk about groups and tribes and communities. That’s one of your focuses. Tell me how that evolved.
I moved to Costa Rica in 2013, because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to live outside the country and experience that. I ran to a friend of mine that was a part of my early courses, and he was he was crushing online. He was building these big community pages and he is surfing all day long and living this epic lifestyle. He started showing me the power of community building versus brand thing and how focusing on the community first actually helps you build a more long-term sustainable brand.
A good example of that is I have several Facebook communities that are in the pet niche.
I look at a company like Petco, or some big pet company, and then I take it side by side with one of my communities, which is I love Rescue Dogs or I love Golden Retrievers. I could put two posts side by side posted exactly the same time, and my community will have 20,000 likes and thousands of comments and thousands of shares. That same post on a brand page would have a couple of hundred and it’s dismal. The big reason is that a lot of businesses haven’t fully evolved or taken social media for what it is or what it’s meant to be. They’re still forcing that one-way communication.
In the old days, it was yellow pages marketing or newspaper marketing. The business owners talking to their customer, and there is no mutual communication back and forth. Social media made it a lot more transparent. There’s a lot more mutual discussion that’s happening. The difference between brand building and community building is focusing on that mutual interaction. Getting feedback from your audience, asking them what they want more of, and giving them what they want more of. Once this guy showed me what he was doing, I realized that creating your raving-engaged following, your true fans, your community, your tribe, by doing that, your brand follows.
I’ve done this dozens of times with different companies, where we focused on community building first and the brands explode. It’s a long term strategy, but it’s one that works. It creates this mindset of long term sustainability. A lot of people want things like yesterday or they want it now, they have microwave-type mindset. They want it in 30 seconds. They want it as fast as their microwave popcorn pops, but it doesn’t work like that. I know my company name is D4Y Brand Builder. When I first started, it was all about brand building, but what I realized is that you focus on your community and your tribe and the brand and it follows.
The article that I read not too long ago was actually published about ten years ago called 1,000 True Fans, and it’s by Kevin Kelly. It talks about going out there and find those true fans. No matter what you put in front of them, they’re already aware. They follow you. They read every e-mail. They read every social post. They hang on to every single word. This is what community and tribe building is all about. It’s about creating that community around that topic of interest that is a true passion for you. People are going to come to this community and they’re going to not just escape their world but they’re going to be excited about. It is going to bring them joy. When you go to sell them a product or service down the road, they’re going to be like, “You’ve given me so much value for free and you’ve given me so much content and so much things that I can relate to because something that I love, that when it comes time to actually give you money, it becomes easy.”
Your generation, people under 40, I believe that’s somewhat intuitive. People understand that community is more important than brand and brand followers, if you have a great community. This is short term versus long term. I’d like you to tell us about how someone who wants to build a community might get started.
It comes with thinking backwards and thinking outside of the box. Most people get started as they think about their business. They think about their product and service, and they think about how can I sell this product or service. They create their fan page, and that’s not building a community, that’s building a brand page. In order to think about it backwards, you have to go into the mind of your prospect or your end customer, and figure out what other things are those people interested in. People ask me the question constantly like what is it doing. Why would I do a community page on a TV show or jewelry or hobbies or pets? It doesn’t make any sense. How does that make any real world dollars?
The truth is with social media and with internet marketing, you can track everything. You could figure out who these people are. You could figure out who these demographics of people are, what age groups they are in, what genders they are, and what other interests they have. You can learn everything about them, and you could reverse engineer that. The first step is figuring out who are your customers. What are they into? What other things are they into besides your product? You want to have repeat business. You want people to keep going back to you. You want people to talk about you, and the only way they’re going to talk about you is if you made a lasting impact on their life, not just with the product or service that you sell, but with the content that you put in front of them. The very first step is doing that research and figuring out what makes these people tick.
If I have a carpet cleaning business or I have a brick and mortar business, I then I need to create a community for people who love dogs? I don’t think I understand. Help me understand that better.
It has got to be relevant. If you’re talking about a home service-type business, let’s say you had a painting business or a carpet cleaning business, the community page might be about interior design. It could be about fancy pictures of pools if you’re a pool guy. If you’re a real estate agent, it might be about dream homes. If you’re a travel agent, it might be about exotic travel or exotic destinations. Things that people are rationally passionate about. People love traveling all over the world. What if you’re putting content for them which shows them what they could experience in their life? It’s things that people dream about. They put it on their vision boards. They want to experience it, so you could be the catalyst that takes them from dreaming about it to actually doing it.
You’re not saying create community around people who love horses for your travel business, you’re saying create a community around things that would interest you if you were traveling or interest you if you were building a new house or in the market that other people are already in. Keep that community tangential to the work you’re already doing.
Sometimes it’s out of the box. I run a page called the Walking Dead Fan Club. It’s one of my favorite shows, so I could talk about it all day long. I figured out a way on how to outsource a lot of the work, but what I found was a lot of the people that are into that show are preppers, survivalists, and gardeners. It allows me to market those types of products and services to them, which I’m also passionate about. Now I merged my passion with my business, and it is fun. It’s not miserable. It’s exciting. It’s things that I enjoy, and I found the way to create more leverage, more leads, and more sales, and connect with an audience of people that are into the same thing that I’m into.
How would somebody get more familiar with what you do specifically?
I’ve built over 250 community pages personally, and I’ve found there’s 23 verticals that work remarkably well and that I would consider hot niches or hot verticals. There’s a lot of people that they’ll go out and they’ll go test a marketing tactic or a marketing plan, and it’ll work for them well. They won’t they won’t talk about it, they won’t teach it, they’ll just do it. Eventually, the algorithm on Facebook will change or the algorithm in Google will change, and they’re like, “It doesn’t work for me anymore.” They will go teach it to other people even though it doesn’t work really well anymore. I’ve been doing this full time for the last four years, and I find the strategy is timeless. I don’t think that Facebook, Google, Pinterest, or any of the social networks are going to wake up and say, “We don’t like content anymore. We don’t like communities. We just want you guys to go and put out spam links and pictures.” It’s not going to happen. Their social platforms are built for that, and so the timeless factor is what’s important.
The reason I give away my Hot Niche Guide is I want people to think about what is that community that they can build by following this guide that also meshes with their business and that also meshes with their product, with their service. This is not a theory. I teach on this. I do this every single day. I was recently featured in Inc., in Entrepreneur, in Forbes, and a couple of other publications talking about this exact strategy. One of my most recent projects is teaching this, but I’m also implementing it. I run a big media publishing company called Monday Monday. We generate about 30 million impressions every single month on our content site, and we drive the traffic 100 % socially through these community pages. Anybody can do this. It works. I’m not suggesting that they’re going to get 10 million visitors or 20 million visitors in their first month; it doesn’t work like that, but if you build it they will come.
It’s a little harder than if you build it, they will come. It sounds like if you build it and you get a lot of people to help you spread the word, they will come. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
I believe in the things that we’re talking about. I’ve been an advocate for it. I’ve spoken around the world on this topic for the last four years. I want to be able to create and spread joy by helping a thousand people tap into their passions and build communities around a topic or interest that they’re most excited about. There’s business behind it and there’s money behind it, but it’s more about spreading joy and creating joy with people around the world. Many people who learned this concept and stick to it, when they realize that it is a lot bigger than their business or their product or service, they are making people’s days better. People look forward to visiting these communities, and it’s one of the things that I’m excited about. I’m excited about creating that joy and spreading that joy, not just through the communities that I build, but by helping a thousand other people do the same thing.
You are certainly spreading joy today in helping educate people as to the value of community and tribes. Thank you so much for sharing your vision, and I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.
Thank you very much for having me.