Today’s guest is Pierre Alex Jeanty. The author of the best-selling books Her and Him. He has been a full-time poet and self-help author for several years. What makes him different is that he’s making money. His business is very different than most indie authors. The business generates seven figures and is predominantly print books sold directly. We talk about how his mindset is that he is running a publishing business, not just selling books. We dive deep into the direct sales model, merchandising for authors, fulfillment, and customer experience.
[00:00:00] Joe: Welcome to the business of writing, where we talk about all things, business and writing related. I’m your host, Joe Solari. I help authors build great businesses. And today’s guest is Pierre Shantay, how are you doing
[00:00:11] Pierre: Pierre? I’m doing good. I’m doing good. Thank you for having me, Joe.
[00:00:16] Joe: This is going to be interesting folks that are watching or listening because a peer is kind of a unicorn.
He is doing some things that you don’t hear a lot of people doing successfully. And that is he’s a poet, a poet writing nonfiction self-help and has built an amazing direct platform with his community. So we’re going to go through all that stuff and understand, from the master here, how we might be able to apply some of that stuff to your business.
So why don’t you start out just like in the beginning, like what got you writing and taking out. This particular task of trying to sell poetry direct?
[00:00:59] Pierre: In writing so the beginning is pretty much starting in college. I always for some reason I started being fascinated by writing and wanting to take a lot of course, because I’m originally from Haiti and English, I spent since I was 11, up until the time I went to college, it was all focusing on learning the language.
And and just for some odd reason, I was just fascinated by social media, spent a lot of time on my space, my space and that tablet, it was planet. And there was another website to, I spent a lot of my studying time on there. And a lot of the courses I had two classes that I took at voting in college in Maine was revolve around writing.
And little did. I know I did drop out of college and that did not work out. And little did I know that would be the, the foundation, I need to be where I’m at because over the years, I work at a propane company and I started, exploring with Twitter a lot and I would post these little reliance or whether it’s some sort of inspiration or whatever it was.
And it started growing because on Twitter we used to, I used to trim just playing around on just doing different things, a lot of jokes going on. But then I, I went to just writing motivational content and I started a brand name gentlemen. And the whole focus of that was to help. It was all about giving men a voice, their emotion, their place in relationship.
And so forth. And from there I launched a blog in gentlemen, hood.com and we started really, putting in a lot of content just for relationship and, and just personal advice. And then I’ll when Instagram rolled out, which was a perfect time for me because now I started writing content where I could attach the main to it.
And that gave me the encouragement. And also we had the P the supporters, the re the readers, the followers would always say, Hey, we need a book. We need a book. And that led to me launching my first book, which was the title was unspoken feelings is unspoken, fell in love with gentlemen. And and then from there, the co the content was doing well.
The book landed, it was ranking well on Amazon. During that time, I had Joyce joined, create space. I started actually doing everything myself on WooCommerce and And then from there, it, I kind of gravitated to where I wrote a poetry book for women because at these events or the book tour that I had for this, a lot of people women really enjoyed the content because they were like, look you, as you’re speaking about man, and how they need to be emotionally available, open and so forth.
And this is way before now I see that type of content around a lot. But this is like in 2014. And that was just like social media content weren’t necessarily pushing that it was a lot of content for women. lot of them ask her, why don’t you write something for women during these books or stopped.
So I went to writing a poetry book title to the women. I want slugs. It was more of something like I’ve never been a woman, but here’s what I learned from dating different women and so forth. And it was written in a poetic form. That took off and made. Early 2016, I decided I wanted to have a dedicated poetry page, which, which is the one you see now PR agency.
And I started that from scratch in 2016. 2017. I launched my book, my book, her actually a month before that I released unspoken feelings of a gentleman too, but it was on a different page, which was my gentlemen hood account. So now this new page, 2017 I’ll launch my poetry book, her and the rest is history.
But a lot of it was me just fascinated with the English language, pushing myself to learn it a little bit more and loving, playing around with words and just inspiring people above.
[00:05:01] Joe: And when you, when you were thinking through this, what made you decide to start selling the books and also where, where was the first place you were selling the books?
Was it, did you start out direct right away or was it Amazon or
[00:05:15] Pierre: so while I’m creating this book I’m working on for authors, I realized that I started with the direct sales model, which was, which is why was easier for me to come back to it because my first book, when I launched it I live in Fort Myers area, which is Southwest Florida.
I could not find a printer to print it because I wasn’t familiar with Amazon. Then I just knew someone back in 2010 an author named Tony Gaskins had mentioned CreateSpace to me, but I was unfamiliar with that. What I did is while I was printing t-shirts for the brand that I had, which is gentlemen hood, I started looking around to see what’s the nearest printer.
And I found a printer in Miami, Florida. It’s I’m in Doral, but Miami area. And I played my first hundred books through them. And on my Instagram, I posted about, it was just letting people know I’m going to launch this book and so forth. And a lot of people started pre-ordering well, then I use a MailChimp to gather emails because I had a MailChimp since like 2009 as well.
And and I launched it and we sold the first night, we sold 150 copies and, within that month we sold 500. I’d have to keep printing getting the printers to ship it. It came to a point where once I’m in my career, it’s crazy. We still use the printer, because of the relationship sometimes.
I would drive I that one month I drove 3000 miles just back and forth from my, from my house to the printer, just to get books because we will run out of books and keep driving. So it’s like two hours drive from his, I’m like, oh my God, I’m driving a lot. But the direct sales model, sometimes it always has been, part of my foundation has always been like a safer to me.
And it was interesting that I, I finally dove right back into it. 2019 and now, the success has been, ridiculous.
[00:07:14] Joe: Yeah. Yeah. So why don’t you walk us through that? Like, just move from, you kind of fall into this working out and it’s successful and now you’re direct printing.
And when did you start hearing about things like KTP. Getting on the apple and Barnes and noble and all that fun stuff.
[00:07:33] Pierre: So in 2000 I believe 16 or 15 or whenever I was on tour I told her and Kelly and I have one of my my manager actually has a buddy who’s who’s. We used to play in the NBA and now he’s a TV announcer and so forth well for the games.
And he mentioned, why are you doing so much lab work? If there’s, other places like create space that you could have the book distributed to. And, I wasn’t, during that time, it was a burden to get the books printed and travel with them. And, and also I started running out of cash.
And when it comes to maintaining this because of direct sell model, that’s one thing that could drain you and people don’t realize. So after torn I went back home and was like, let me explore, create space. And in 2015, or probably relate 14, I think no 15. I uploaded my books on Katie P and then I started researching for everywhere else that I could put the book.
So I found out how to put it on apple I books are, I found out how to put it on KDP. That term was separate from physical copies because it was create space and it was KTP and then I put it on every platform that I could and believe it or not. I did not know my book was on apple, or remember that I did it until Katie P once sent me a message of saying you do not have, oh, no, I signed up for, I signed up for Kindle unlimited and, and there was the first.
I think it was brand new during that time. And I, it sent me a message and said, you’re not qualified because we noticed that your book is on another platform. And I went like, what platform is it on? And come to find out, we check our apple art books. And that’s where I noticed I was selling quite a bit.
So now I made myself familiar with all those platforms on platforms and started having it on all of them. Then in 2017, when my book, her, which is the best seller that I have, I started grabbing getting a lot of traction. I started having conversation with some of them, some of my peers, and one of them mentioned Ingram to me because I needed, to get into bookstores.
And I w I started having a marketing plan while I was sending people to bookstores and having them request. And and I jumped into Ankrom and became one of the Tufts seller quick, which made it easier. Now you had a sales rep, you had communication in there. And I jumped through all the hurdles and I even have a good relationship with my sales rep now, and she’s no longer at Ingram.
So that tells you, you have that one. But everything else just started falling into, into together. It’s just a matter of expanding. And and then to dive into this model I don’t know if you want me to go in,
[00:10:25] Joe: I think it’s kind of natural for you to go in and like how you’re going to market right now.
[00:10:31] Pierre: Yes. Mid 2018, this book, my book, her is a best seller. It’s also the second volume is going well. Maybe it was a reach Barnes and noble. Top sellers lists and it wasn’t, the and caps, it was, everything was happening all by itself. And and also I have the say, so while I was writing, I realized this happened to during Trump’s residency, he mentioned something about made the comment about Haitians, which, we were feral, but that time it puts you a lot of books for supply push patient authors to the front.
And I ended up being one of those who were somehow made it they were talking about me. That gave me a huge boost since the book started circulating everywhere. Target came knocking on my door and with target coming, knocking on my door, the deal worked out perfect. I want it, I was getting, I was launching the third part of the series, so it’s her, her volume two and him.
So I was launching him during that. And when target came out, came knocking out my door. They wanted all three of them together at first started with her. Then it was like, okay, her two is on and cabinets on different tables at Barnes and noble. So we want this and also want him, so we made up the deal went well.
I can’t really name the distributor that really negotiated this deal because come to find out the first one the first print run did not work as well. There was some errors in the book and so forth, which I’m going with somewhere with this by mentioning. So with that, not going well and ended up where they wanted more books, but it seems like something was stopping it.
It all ended up to being where the books landed in target. I was one of the top, number two seller, they’re selling about 600 books, 600 copies a week there, and. And yeah, they actually cut the contract. They cut the contract to where, out of the, I think 50,000 books that were printed 15,000 of them, where we were returned.
And, and I had to do something you’re talking about. This is, mid 2019. I have a daughter coming coming into the world. It’s my birthday. And I said, look, I have to figure out what to do. And I did not want to use a WooCommerce, which I had before. I decided to create a brand new shop that I could do myself.
And this is how I landed on, on Shopify. I’m not a great thing about landing on Shopify was I was already, for, for years I’ve done Facebook ads. I were speaking earlier. I mentioned it was power editor where, you know, boosting posts where those engagements were doing well. So I’ve been doing that since 2015.
So this was easy to get into because prior to that that time before the return, I was selling my e-books to people international because I was doing good in the us. And I was in different bookstores, like the Philippines and Indonesia. I’m a bestseller there. However, there’s other countries that couldn’t get my book and I felt like the audience in those countries, I could deliver eBooks for them.
So I started using SamCart’s to sell that way. And it was great because now I was not using ads the way Arthur, I mean, authors typically use it, which is to run, engage, boost your posts or run link clicks to Amazon. So right into that of me having that data collection and way of running as like, typical business outside the, the book industry, I’ve started doing the same thing with my Shopify.
And what I did is I told, I mentioned to the distributor, look, I need, you could ship out my books to me. I found a storage unit near my house and 20 K books 20 to 50 K book Facebook group, you actually would see in the early 2019, I showed the entire room where I built shelves and I, and, and just simply set everything up.
And it was one of the best dishes that I’ve made because of 2019 rollout. We scaled to seven figure within that from August to December. And then from there COVID hit and everything changed because now I was growing so fast and now we have a warehouse. This is my office is a room in a warehouse is no more space.
We have a warehouse. And we were increasing in team and I literally. Place the direct sell model to where now I, everything worked out so perfectly that we, we ended up from the experience before to now we ended up building all the relationship we need to where we’re, where we’re making print run through Ingram or different printers where, we have pallets of books come in and there’ll be sold and we’re able to control it.
We’re able to control the data and make a lot better, more better decisions. Because one of the things of this model is that I appreciate about it is the fact that now I feel like I wasn’t relying on anyone where, target couldn’t tell me I was gonna return books. I’m just like, okay, I’m going to sell it.
Barnes and noble, I couldn’t necessarily, before I would have to submit my books and try to get in, and it would be the same run around. But it’s like, I published a book during 2019 when I started this month. I had the sales rep for the region, actually contact me about getting the book and versus before I would try to find him and a, how to get ahold of them to put the book in the bookstore.
So it gave me a lot more power over my business and more control. And it’s the first time, we started feeling more like a business where within the last two and a half years, or two years, that we’ve been, we’ve had a cash flow. We’re not, we’re not waiting on Amazon 60 days or 90 day with distributors just operating within that.
But if target had not made that mistake and, and granted, I cannot put it on target because I find out the distributor could not handle the, the the distribution, I guess they weren’t printing them fast enough. They weren’t they couldn’t make the deal. Target was demand, we’re demanding for more books, more inventory and they couldn’t do it simply be.
At that time as an author, I did not have this type of credit line. It was a, you’re talking about ordering a hundred thousand books and I, I can’t necessarily the, handle the the payment, the costs for that. So there were managing risk on their end and which, again, it ended up being a blessing because now I think I’m in a position where if we negotiate with target, I would cut out in the middleman.
[00:17:06] Joe: Yeah. That’s, that’s it’s funny how those things play out. You think at first it’s a tragedy, but it actually gets you into a better spot. So CA can you give us a feel for like, what part of your business is physical books? Like what percentage of sales and then also what percentages are direct versus being sold on Amazon or.
I books just you don’t have to get into numbers, but just kind of percentages to give people a feel.
[00:17:32] Pierre: Yeah. About 98% of ourselves, to be honest, I physical copies because I write poetry. Oftentimes even people get eBooks, they’re like, we don’t want the real book. So there’s that good in terms of I’m thinking in terms of, of Amazon, I think about 30% come from Amazon and let’s say like a one or 2% from I books in those other platforms, but Amazon is the main source, because we’re not the main source I’m saying in terms of other platforms and far because Amazon find a way to cut through everything because when people see the ad on Facebook or want the book, the first thing they asked themselves, Is it on Amazon and, and also those numbers aren’t necessarily, fair per se, because for, for a year, almost a year or however long, there was a shutdown, knowing that was going into bookstores, it was either Amazon or get it directly from me.
So Amazon’s a little bit biased here, but this year we’re seeing a decrease on Amazon because I’ve, I’ve already started implementing a system where when people order from Amazon is going through, through our Amazon central account seller central account and where I pull more credit for all of them, because one of the things that I’m big on it.
Seeing how the landscape is changing in marketing itself, that I want control of all the data that we can. And even, even this year, if we would we were talking about decreasing on the aspirin. Earlier, one of the reasons that I did not decrease in term of my ad span, even though the platform, has had some difficulties, is because of the fact I want to keep collecting data.
My email list is a priority. My, my text list as a priority, because with that data, we can re target them on any platform. We could all speak to them. So that’s why this model is attractive to me because not only did the retailers the distributor mess with me over the retail store, technically mess me over Amazon.
And all the other platforms never gave me the re what I needed to have a, a longstanding business. And what I mean by. Is in 2019 early that year, earlier that year too, or was it 2018? I had a book tour for my new book, him and I realized as I was marketing it, no, there was only a small amount of people showing to these book.
Book stops. And it was less than before when I had only about 50,000 followers and now I had 500,000 followers and less people were showing to the book for stop. And not only that, I used to sell tickets and have it at at my own van, a venue of choice where now was having a Barnes and noble, and we were still having trouble seeing having people there.
So I realized that the engagement, which I knew, but I didn’t see the capacity affected me. The engagement on those platforms was decreasing, especially on Facebook, on every platform as you’re growing. There’s people who no longer using those on active or may not pay attention to you. But I know for a fact, Facebook is suppressing the audience, allowing only a small percentage of them to see because the goal, the goal is for you to pay, to see it as a pay to play platform.
So everyone who showed up to my book tour stop would say, oh, we just started, I didn’t even know you were having it. And I’m like how I’ve been marketing this for months. So we came to where, okay, we needed to have a little bit more control with there. So we started doing email giving freebie and so forth for lead magnets, but that was not effective for me.
Because although I changed my, my mindset to where I only marketed to my existing audience because. 1.8 million followers on Facebook and 700. Now on Instagram, where we count, what kind of back to that, where we’re running this free eBooks are people who know who I am so we could capture them. But during that time it was not yielding results.
Fast enough. So within this model, what ended up happening is that when they make a purchase, the automatically fall into an email funnel and, and we’ll go from there. But short and I mean, short answer, I mean, to shorten up the answer is Amazon definitely cover up about 30% of our sales. And it’s actually, when you’re in this model, you realize that, like, it’s not the thing that you, you, you kind of look at the numbers different because before, when you’re selling on Amazon, it’s like, okay, royalty.
Versus now you’re kind of like, if I would have sold it on my website, there would have been a lot more profit margin would have been better. So now it’s like, we’re not necessarily a happy to say that Amazon has 30% of it, especially now we know how to mass that, where people do, who are fans of Amazon?
See that they’re not just ordering on Amazon. I mean, they’re still ordering on Amazon, but they’re on a war for failing, but Amazon 30% I books. And on these other platforms, I’ll say about two, two to 5%. And our distributor did a lot too last year where he came around about a good 10% last year, but now we’re controlling everything
[00:23:02] Joe: well.
And to put this into context for the audience that that 30% on, on Amazon is. A significant amount of sales, right? Like that, that book is I have, I haven’t looked at it recently, but you’ve got quite how many thousand reviews and
[00:23:19] Pierre: 20,000
[00:23:20] Joe: yeah. 20,000 reviews. Right. And it’s all, it’s also the situation where most folks are selling an electronic product.
So you’re you’re also very unique in that situation that, you, you, you, you’re dealing with the physical product still, which has got some sh a lot of shortcomings. I mean, you have to store them somewhere. You’ve got,
[00:23:39] Pierre: it’s a D it’s an, and that’s one thing. So if, while you’re mentioning that, one of the things that if the audience who, someone who may be interested in event, this model, one of, one of the things I was afraid about. Just the, the expense that w w that will come with trying to handle something like this.
And and it doesn’t have a shortcoming. It doesn’t have the tough part. What I wish I would have done different is I had already a distributor in California that handles all my books and so forth in terms of international. So they have a huge warehouse. Then they have all, everything already in place for fulfillment center.
And. Because I was so focused on collecting all the data myself. I did not consider them. And that ended up being the part where I wish, I would have changed their front. Although I do have an office here, I love it. I could have stayed at my old office, which we were now owned and have less risk because they have their insurance and they have the team for fulfillment and so forth.
It comes off as shortcoming, but a lot of it too, it puts you in a position in a better position to be more personal with your audience your own customer services handling sometime they hear from me. It’s just the, the being out of touch with when it comes to Amazon, it’s, it’s something that, or any other platform is something that I, I just, this whole.
[00:25:10] Joe: For folks for a lot of folks, that are 20 books, books are just, just most authors that are selling. Like you’re, you’re kind of sounding crazy because that’s their world, right? Like they don’t, they can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads, but they’re sending all those people to Amazon.
So they, they never see anything beyond, this link that drives them to Amazon. So I would not to rub it in more, but just kind of talk about with this model, how much more you see like that you get to see, not only can you see the whole transaction, but you can help Facebook to find more customers because you can share that transaction.
Onto your website, what pages they go to if they abandon the cart, all that crazy stuff that, the usual, most authors just can’t do because they use Amazon as their main sales platform.
[00:26:07] Pierre: Yeah. And that was a part that I could not you know, as someone who who’s been a marketer since 2015, that was a part I could not see going the other direction I could not keep going in because one of the thing is Facebook is just an amazing tool.
They could give you so much data. There’s so many data points that can help your business. And the idea that I would blindly span, during the early days, that’s when $10,000 marketing a month and simply wait 60 to 90 days for it to calm, have no real idea of what’s going on. The backend.
It started bothering me because they will call yes. This amount of clicks, but what did they do? And for a while, when we’re operating the way, most people within that that world offered the book industry. I w I use a Lank to determine, it was a genius link and determined, all the details about, what country and so forth.
But one of the things I did is send them directly to my author’s page, just to see. How do react there? And we noticed like more people would buy the book. I mean, the bundle, the books in terms of bundles, and then it came to wildlife. Okay, what more are we missing? And that’s why I love the Shopify model because we can see everything.
So once they come into the store the, the Shopify story, it doesn’t necessarily say food, but you can watch how the person interact on the website. Let’s just tell you that you can stick. Do you know how long it’s been a product page and so forth, but then you get to see like, Hey, if they buy this and we put this in front of them, what happens?
Often time as long we put a bundle option, they’re always bundled. They always took the upsale, even when I’m promoting a new book. I just got one of the books as that. I have traditionally traditionally published that I bought some inventory and have it listed on the website. And while I sit on an email for people to purchase.
No one will, everyone was buying just a book itself, but then I’m like we need an upsale option for it. And we just simply attach a book to it. And from there, the book, just 50% of the people started taking that book. So we honestly, we see the behavior there. Then it comes to, after the go from an upsale there’s cross sell where, I sell other things to them and something that we couldn’t do on Amazon.
I started with selling t-shirts before I got into the book book business. And now I was back to like the t-shirts we have let’s sell them. Let’s find a way to create more and so forth. So we have that. Then even after they check out, we can see what’s going on and we sell them. I saw one of my, my latest book.
I’ve never marketed really to my audience. I mainly sell it as a post-purchase sell. So after they go through the whole phase of checkout. So not only that you get on. Facebook would tell you, Hey, this amount of people left this into the cart. You can use ads to retarget them. Then based on the amount of people who purchase Facebook has an idea of, you have so many data points to say, okay, the average person spent this much.
We could find people within that range or people that are more like, it was like a one push button thing. Like, like we were talking about earlier, where you can easily let that flow. And then you get into emails where if they start the transaction, they don’t, they don’t do anything. You could say, Hey, you have it.
You have this into your cart, you should check out. Here’s a 10% discount it in every aspect. And I’m writing a book about it right now. As in every aspect we noticed there’s a funnel and within a phone or you get to speak to them and re target them in the way I mentioned in the book is really becoming your own app.
Because when you look at Amazon, they do all of these things. You just don’t have the capability to control it, but do you look at a book or once you get back on the site, it’s there. We have the same ability to make sure we put you back in front of the same book when you leave it in the car and you can guarantee you’re going to see it.
And email there’s that when there’s a new book up, you could market to the same people who bought the previous one. You can do that with the Facebook ads, with the Shopify email, those it’s being able to be like the biggest bookstore in the world right now, which we know is Amazon. And and does so much to again, make the answer, shorter.
There’s so much you can see, and that’s why this model is appealing because when an author is spending, let’s say they spend like a hundred grand. Yeah. Sustained people to Amazon chances are small amount. If any of that audience is coming back to them, to where they can communicate with them again.
So we, and I think what authors need to take about as a going forward in the next few years is social media is having more limitation and also, engagement is dropping an Amazon. Again, we can control what Amazon ads I saw Amazon ads launch, and I saw I noticed where it’s at right now.
And like can imagine I’m more, more expensive and in competitive at it you talking about you could spend and I’ve done it. I spent the first four years of my career just sending traffic and spending a lot of money to, to notice. And I will still have to do that again, unless I found a way to build, effectively and have access to that audience.
And that’s what authors should be thinking now. To me, it, I couldn’t do it any longer.
[00:31:42] Joe: W the horrible thing now with Amazon is you spend money to set, ads on, say Facebook to send them to Amazon, and they land on your sales page and half your sales pages, other people running ads, trying to steal the guy you just sent there.
Right? Like it’s, it’s, we’re eating our own young hair. So the question I have for you do you have any feel for the lifetime value of your customers and like the average purchase amounts? Now
[00:32:14] Pierre: yes. And and writing this book, I had to pick up all these data, and again, I’m not trying to promote this book.
[00:32:22] Joe: That’s fine. A shameless promotion is okay here.
[00:32:24] Pierre: It’s so much data. If. So the loan, my business, and sit down and say, whatever I’ve done and how do I need to, explain the process of someone who’s looking to do it. We noticed like the lifetime value is 89 bucks, which is the average amount for them to get all my book and in terms of sales.
So let me just
[00:32:45] Joe: stop you there for a second. Let me just, so people put this into context. So the lifetime value of your customer is 89 bucks. How many books, how many titles do you have in your name?
[00:32:54] Pierre: That is, I have 10 titles, 10, and and I sell them use it a price between 1499 and 1499. But because we factor in on a discount, we probably gonna give them in between it’s it’s about 89.
And if you buy the full set itself like that, it’s 89. And it, the way we have it set up within our emails, which is. Free marketing, because you’ve already acquired those people is that we have flow set up. So once you buy, let’s say her and you do not get S the second volume. Now you’re getting, your, your confirmation emails come in, thank you emails, but then you’re getting other emails, post-purchase emails about the other books, and that’s why we’re able to sell different books.
And even when, when I book launch, I never really have a huge announcement on social media or, or all I do is like, Hey, new book group. And we sent out an email to 300,000 people, and it makes a difference. But the lifetime value is 89. And I think my assistant mentioned they close to 2000 people they’ve been through.
I’ve already reached that point. And. I’m not saying anyone close it. We’re talking about reaching past that point. In terms of your, the AOV, the average order value. We’ve gotten that from starting up to like 15 bucks and now it’s at 30 on average, meaning like when they come, instead of buying one book and paying for shipping, now they’re buying more stuff.
You have people spend upwards 600, 700 on a website simply because we were, we just have more available. And then on top of that, we get to attract those type of customers and offer different things to them and thank them differently.
[00:34:42] Joe: Yeah. And so that’s the other thing, like, I know you’ve always bet you actually started with merchandise first.
So like, how has that changed over time? Like what products now do you offer and what do you see your audience most interested in after.
[00:34:59] Pierre: They are most interested in journals, which makes sense because there’s the poetry there. They’re just grabbing the journals and so forth. But we do sell a lot of t-shirts and mugs.
The one thing we do because of Shopify, we use a print on the man company. So this is where we’re hands-off. It goes through our Shopify, but we’re hands off. So once they make the purchase, it feeds the plan on print on demand company. And they point out different shirt, different different mugs, but mud we’ve tested out different things through.
I started a membership a while back. I just didn’t have the time where like you started with like 30 members at like 29 bucks a month. Then I cut that because I couldn’t commit to it. I’m too busy. So now we have a text group that will, you know, texts community that we have in end there, we notice that people, some people wanted me to send out a text every day because it’s always inspirational messages.
What we ended up doing is having a small subscription for it. Right now is $4 a month. You just get texts daily and some of them are wallpapers. And we started that late. We’re like five, 6,000 members in before we started it. And if anything that I hope it’s not our whole bag, anyone who’s listening to this, probably, always looking to improve their marketing.
But one of the things I’m not too fond of is giving freebies and lead magnets because it’s just, you failure, mess your emails or just people who aren’t necessarily buyers. Especially now you have a system to fill them up with buyers or why, why waste that money and pay the expense to main maintain them.
What we notice is out of the 5,000 people. I think we have almost 400 people who subscribed to that. We notice a lot of the people even just because it was free in the beginning, they would not switch over to pay, but we noticed that people who are coming in and we’re letting them know that like we have, and we’re not still keeping them come, we’ll keep them coming in.
Not necessarily for free. We just tell them they could join it. But in the beginning, the first message, it tells them, Hey, does this available? You get certain amount of messages. If you’re, you’re just signing up. But if you’re a premium member for a dollar a month, this is what happens. And we’re noticing people and people never even received a text and they’re like click and sign up for the dollar versus the ones before they just won’t convert over.
Because they’re like, at this point, we’re just going to get it whenever. But it’s going right now, I don’t promote it much on my whole goal is. Keep it at a pace where it maintains yourself. So like, I think it costs us 350 bucks a month to maintain 7,500 people are now. So now that they’re paying for it and for me, as long as it’s growing, where they’re always paying for it, it works.
Because the email, the text is more valuable to us than the email, because even now notice like, say one sec, Hey, this book’s available. They flood the website versus the email. It gets to them. They got to fight everyone else attacks not. So it’s a good preparation for the holidays for us. Good. Good.
[00:38:04] Joe: What a couple of things before we go, like, what else would you like, if would you suggest for somebody that’s thinking about going into direct sales, like what’s a, a path for them to do that.
If they’re kind of new.
[00:38:18] Pierre: If you knew today is definitely going to Shopify, I’m going to looking at it first. I shameless marketing here again, I have a whole thing where I’m teaching my goal is to teach it to people because I have in, in 2009 season, the good thing, I have a list of authors that we kind of have our own inner circle.
We don’t even notice it. We’re just like still authors who sell a lot and we’d go back and forth and conversation. And when I switched to this model, I took two of them with me. And one of them was, was a client of mine, who I was helping, coaching in terms of book marketing. And all of them resulted in just not that the level that I’ve seen it because I was the one who built the system.
And also, I’m good at Facebook marketing. So I, they came to a point, they all hired me as their Facebook. I created an ad agency around them where they’re all like, we’re going to pay your monthly. Too many things changing. We don’t know how to what’s happening, but so within take taking them through that system, I realized how many more people wanted them to have more.
I have the much more beneficial it was. And, and it just puts so many authors in a good position. So I started building, we have a book that breaks down that the entire process and then it goes into creating different courses that will help them if obviously you’ve been on run into issues.
But definitely start with Shopify. The book I’ll probably just get it over to you, Joe, and then if anybody interested, they could contact you. But definitely when I’m going back to free resources, definitely start with Shopify because I don’t think any platform is as strong as top of five when it comes to e-commerce simply because it integrates with anything.
It’s, it’s literally an iPhone where you have an app store where you could be. You could install any app you want within that shop that could do anything you would hire a tech person should do because you go on there. I created a website and like good two hours, not even probably less, and had people shop it on that a next, the next day.
It’s, it’s easy to create. There’s always a different app for it. The post-purchase apps that everything can integrate very well. And not only that, it does extremely well with with Facebook ads and also every other platform with Amazon. I mean, not Amazon, I’m sorry with Pinterest, Snapchat, Google ads, all of those can work well.
And it gives you access to those different marketplace where you could also sell through whatever you sell on Amazon. Through there you could sell on, on, Walmart and you will sell on just as many places because most people don’t realize. When you’re ordering different products on Amazon, this cute little as you go and you purchase from that, it’s sometime it’s coming from one of those stores that is connected to Amazon.
And then a lot of people went to drop shipping and so forth. So start with Shopify get as much as you can into it, the way I break it down, as you start with Shopify, get it set up properly. Definitely use Facebook ads when it comes to pairing this up because it’s a beautiful marriage. Depending obviously Facebook goes to different phases or the ad platform is doing, but it’s a perfect marriage.
And in the other, the third party that notice is we use Klaviyo in terms of email marketing. Once you connect the two, it flows perfectly because they come from the ad, go into your Shopify, go through the whole funnel in the Shopify and then go into the funnel and your. Email marketing and clever you’ll have done that exception well with e-commerce.
So it’s like, it’s the number one e-commerce email platform. But definitely, welcome to mass Manny question. I have a group, I have the ax available that, and I can’t even to be honest, I’m trying to search it in my brain where else I could tell people to go, but it’s really difficult because not too many people have this approach.
Yeah. So it’s hard. So I’m always gonna say, come to me now on all that attention, but
[00:42:18] Joe: yes. And anybody that this’ll be before 20 books that sees us at 20 books, you’ll be on my direct sales panel with Katie cross. So there’s two people there that are you, I don’t want to get into numbers, but you guys are selling in excess of.
Mid six figures on direct sales platforms, which a lot of authors are like, how could that be? But there are people that are out there that are doing it. And the two of you will be there as, you can ask questions and really kind of talk about, there’s trade-offs right. There’s, it’s not all as easy as now.
You’re everything you’re, you have to do all the stuff Amazon does, right? Like you do have to build those. You have to write those sequences and you have to have all the experience for your customers and you have to deal with returns.
[00:43:03] Pierre: Yeah. And that, and this is one of them, again, it’s gone into this, the entire book that I’m creating.
I realized just the things that when you look at the list of things that people have to do, I’m just glad the next person who gets this is not going to go through everything I have. I think we spent upwards 20 grand changing our website just to come back to say the way it was works, converted the best.
[00:43:32] Joe: not touch it. Yeah, sometimes that experimentation sucks.
[00:43:36] Pierre: Oh my God, man. And it was like same thing with emails. I, being a busy person, we’ve hired different people to do the emails and we’re like, oh, now I do better misleading. Hi, this is, a few words of inspiration. So more than a lot of emails that, but email agency we’re doing.
So a lot of it is, is in, simplicity and, and just different things that you can do is like the upsale. We use one UPSer in the book. I recommend that we use one upsell app. Never thought it would convert. It just is not pretty enough. And Tyson enough and the conversion rate, 60% no 50%, no upward that between 45.
So I’m kind of what I’m trying to do. And me getting on that space is and telling people like, Hey, look, you can skip all these steps because the experimentation phase is expensive. And, and, and even in terms of the figures that you mentioned, one of the things of this model is that also give you a cashflow to operate as a business.
So therefore you’re able to scale because it’s not spending, hundreds a day and wait 60 days to collect the 150 megs is more like you spend a hundred today, 80 come directly to you and the rest goes to Amazon, but then you have that 80 to reinvest the next day.
[00:44:58] Joe: Yes, I think that that part is really lost on authors, fundamentally, how that changes a business.
When you go from, Hey Facebook charges me every time my credit card hits, 750 bucks, which could be every day too. Now I sold those books. I got to wait 60 days for that cash to come in. You have this huge gap in, in cashflow and when you can shrink that down to days, literally, two or three working days how that you can cycle so much faster
[00:45:31] Pierre: and even, and this is again way out there, but so many things will be more than from it.
As in like, even with Facebook, Facebook has thresholds for everyone. So one of the things we noticed as grown with Facebook, we went from having a threshold where our credit card getting the daily to where we were on a $10,000 a month. So we got huge credit lines of where we pay an invoice where it rotated around 60 days, to be honest.
So part of this, and the one thing I learned about this model is not only, it’s not only for the sake of making more profit, because sometime it may not be profitable. You may have to have some up and down, but not necessarily profitable overall, but sometime it’s for someone like me, who’s always reinvesting because I’m thinking long-term.
And even like a month where I said, I could have decreased my ad spend, but I kept it because I wanted more people to come to my pipeline. So now I’m like, I have a well pump email list because every day we market ads on getting cheaper, they’re getting more expensive as the day goes on. But we noticed just a lot of things that relationship with build and, and just partnership because Facebook I’ve never dealt with, I haven’t dealt with a Facebook rep for.
Three years, but I’ve had a Facebook account manager and I’ve spoken to people higher level simply because of volume and consistency or just, Ingram. I had, I have obviously upper cheer relationship there where it’s my assistant always, she always make these jokes, like, yeah, I don’t know how to get a hold of anyone on Amazon and Gromit flavor, but, but Alex can give you a phone number and, and that’s what, spending a lot to where it’s like, Hey, I texted like, Hey, what’s going on with Facebook?
And my ad account manager would be like, yeah, there’s this and that. So that’s the benefit of it too, because of the longterm, you get to see how all this interact and you get to put yourself in a good position and the legwork that comes with it, but. With the outsource it. So right now we have somebody, even one of our customer service representative Philippines is plugged into the system, speak to people.
There’s a apple used called gorgeous and someone commented on Facebook or email wherever she still can answer them in one place. So then it does that. And you can, there’s always way to outsource. It’s like my first buddy, he was not like me. He’s like, I’m not growing a warehouse and this guy do it.
And and he has fulfillment. He never touches anything. It’s a, him, it’s still operates like Amazon, except he gets a crap load of data. And the expense sometime is him just having to pay for, the inventory in some material ahead of time. But it’s, if you want to do it, there’s ways to make it easier on you.
[00:48:21] Joe: Yeah. Cool. Cool. PR it’s been awesome having you on.
[00:48:25] Pierre: Then a pleasure. I love it. Sorry for talking so much, like I’m in a space of sharing this and it’s been like on my heart, I told you, I spent the last two months prepping his book and I’m like, people need to know about this. It’s it’s, I’m looking at the people I’ve helped do this.
And they’re like, they’re living their best life. Unlike me, obviously I took much more risk, but it’s beautiful. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to even,
[00:48:51] Joe: no, this is great. And sometimes I know you feel like you’re out in the wilderness yelling and nobody can hear the message.
I I’ve been talking to authors that this is where this is all going, is like the closer you can get to your customer, the better it is. There’s there’s no, there’s no way that that can go bad unless you treat your customers badly. But the, anybody that’s in between you and your customer can create friction and and you you’re going to lose out.
So I, I, I love to that, that you could come on here and talk and, and there’s some, success stories. I know a lot of people have tried this and it maybe not worked out as well as it has for you. But I think that as authors kind of start making the connection for those that want to do this, right, maybe it’s not for everybody, right.
Just there’s, there’s a multitude of publishing models. But for those of us that really want to create an experience, that’s a hundred percent our control. Like you have to do direct sales.
[00:49:52] Pierre: Yeah. And if I may add this too, I know we’re closing, but for any author who’s whose sometime they might be afraid that they may lose.
And the other models, that was one of the things that not only I was concerned about, but the, the people that I’ve, some of my inner circle that we introduced us to in the beginning, they were concerned about their Amazon rankings and their sales there, or bookstores and things of that nature.
And what we seen with this model simply because of the fact that you have data to make the decision, you have Facebook hunt out to find the cells. And in that process, you, you’re not because the way, the way ads work. They have different objectives. So when you want to Facebook ads, a lot of authors are running for link clicks.
They think everyone is seeing the ad, but no Facebook is sending the ad to the group of people who are often clicking. So you’re not in the same pool as a, the engagers. That’s why the objectives are all in different categories. So what Facebook does is the people who are the buyers, they’re more likely to see the ad.
However, in that group, there’s some people who were engaged and clicks and, but Facebook doesn’t necessarily pay attention to them because it’s going after the buyers. So what happens is we see we, within that system as, wow, we’re getting the benefits of collecting the data and selling that.
We’re also still reaping the old benefits where we getting a bunch of link clicks and people still like, we’re going to go to Amazon or we’re getting the engagement where I’ve grown like a hundred thousand followers without even trying to on Instagram and Facebook more. And even in the process, one of the story I tell a lot, it’s like I hit the USA today, bestseller list in may.
And we’re like how 30,000 copies of our books wasn’t even registered to any platform. They can see what we’re doing in our Shopify, but we realized that access that comes from just doing this. It, it pushed us in all the places. So that’s why, like, I don’t necessarily look for do for anything for followers.
Do anything for link clicks, do anything for my ranking. We hit Amazon top 100, not even having Amazon covers 30% of ourselves. So that’s how the think about it. That. Even though the model is not necessarily for everyone, but it’s happened into all spaces. And because, even now I’m entertaining giving my next book to a publisher simply because I don’t want to handle enough of mine because it’s more of like, I have 10 books and the inventory and so forth, we all, and that’s what we’re opening our warehouse or doing fulfillment for other people.
But it’s just, for me, I’m like now I want my next book to be handled by someone else. We can, we’re just going to keep maintaining this. But it’s, it gives you the leverage. It’s giving me the leverage there. It’s given me it’s so much because the first traditional publishing there I had the book is doing extremely well.
It has 5,000, reviews and sold 40,000 or $50,000. I’m not doing anything for it. It’s just, the access keeps spilling over into everything. People are just going to buy. And the publisher’s like, Ooh, great marketing plan PR. And I’m like, yeah, I only mark it two books and none of them is on your catalog.
So that’s, so that’s something to think about in this. As long as you have the consistency, you’re able to scale, the constant flow you’re able to scale. It puts you in a position that you don’t realize you will be. You don’t lose a step. You just add an extra one. Hmm.
[00:53:34] Joe: Awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing all this with everybody.
And I will be seeing you in a couple of weeks.
[00:53:41] Pierre: Yes. Looking forward to it. Yeah.
[00:53:43] Joe: All right, man. Good talking to ya.
[00:53:45] Pierre: All right, Joe. It was a pleasure. Yeah. All right. And buyer
[00:53:50] Joe: off the air.