056: Matthew Kepnes - Making Your Competition Irrelevant as an Influencer

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By Nathan Barry: Author, Designer, Marketer and Nathan Barry: Author. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Matthew Kepnes runs the popular travel blog, Nomadic Matt, and also writes a successful newsletter. In fact, Matt’s newsletter is one of the biggest I’ve had on the show. His book, How to Travel the World on $50, is a New York Times Best Seller.

After a 2005 trip to Thailand, Matt decided to leave his job, finish his MBA, and travel the world. Since then, he’s been to nearly 100 countries, and hasn’t looked back. Besides being a New York Times best-selling author, Matt’s writings have been featured in countless publications. He’s a regular speaker at travel trade shows, and is the founder of FLYTE, a non-profit organization that sends students overseas to bring their classroom experience to life.

I talk with Matt about his unique approach to running his business. While others are building online courses, Matt has shifted to doing more in-person meetups and events. We talk about his newsletter, and we also talk about growing your Instagram follower count, scaling a business as a solopreneur, and much more.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • When & why you need to start outsourcing day-to-day tasks
  • Matt’s email opt-in strategies and tips to get more subscribers
  • The most important metric about your email list
  • How to quickly get more followers on Instagram

Links & Resources

Matthew Kepnes’ Links

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Matthew:
When I started these courses back in 2013, there wasn’t a lot of folks. Now you have so many people with courses, so many Instagrammers and TikTokers selling their stuff. It’s sort of like, is this worth the time to really invest in it when my heart really isn’t in it? How can I maintain 400K in revenue a year? Is that the best use of our resources? The answer is, not really.

[00:00:33] Nathan:
In this episode, I talk to my long time friend, Matt Kepnes, from Nomadic Matt.

Matt’s got a travel blog that’s wildly popular, and he gets into that—shares all the numbers. He’s probably one of the biggest newsletters that I’ve had on the show, so far.

What I love about him, in particular, is how thoughtful he is about his business model.

Most people are just adding more courses and figuring out how to grow revenue; honestly, what’s now fairly traditional ways, and it’s quite effective. Matt takes another approach. He gets into in-person events and meetups. We get to talk about why in a busy, crowded online world, he’s actually going offline.

I think that Blue Ocean Strategy he references, the popular book by the same title, I think it’s interesting, and it’s something worth considering when some of the online strategies don’t work. We also get into a bunch of other things like growing his newsletter. Like I said, it’s quite large.

Then, also growing an Instagram following. Instagram is not something that I’m going to actively pursue, but it’s interesting hearing his approach of what you do if you’re at 5,000 followers on Instagram, and want to grow to 50,000 or more.

So, anyway, enjoy the episode.

If you could do me a favor and go subscribe on Spotify or iTunes, or wherever you listen if you aren’t subscribed already, and then write a review.

I check out all the reviews. Really appreciate it. It helps in the rankings, and I’m just looking to grow the show.

So, anyway, thanks for tuning in today. Let’s go talk to Matt.

Matt, welcome to the show.

[00:02:06] Matthew:
Thanks for having me, Nathan. I’ve been trying to get on this podcast for ages.

[00:02:10] Nathan:
Well, don’t say that, that’ll make people think they can get on just by asking. Really, you came to my house and stayed in my cottage on the farm, and then you’re like, “Yo, have me on the podcast!” And that’s when I was like, “Absolutely.” But if anyone just asked, that would not be a thing.

[00:02:26] Matthew:
No, I just mean I finally—I’m excited that I’m worthy enough in my blogging career to be on.

[00:02:33] Nathan:
Oh, yes.

[00:02:35] Matthew:
I’ve made it.

[00:02:36] Nathan:
Yeah. It’s only taken you, what, a decade and a half?

[00:02:39] Matthew:
13 and a half years. Slow and steady wins the race.

[00:02:43] Nathan:
That’s right.

I actually want to start talking about that side of it, because I’ve been in the blogging world for 11 years now. But even I feel like things changed so much in the first couple of years, even before I entered into the world. So, I’m curious, going back to the early days, what were the prompts for you to come into the blogging world and say, “Hey, I’m going to start publishing online”?

[00:03:10] Matthew:
Yeah. You know, it was a very haphazard, there was no grand plan. Like I had Zanger when people had Zeno’s, which is, you know, a personal blog, way back, you know, 2003, whatever. And so what, I went on my trip around the world in 2006, I just kept updating this Zynga. You know, it was called, Matt goes the world and it was just like, here I am friends here I am.

And then, you know, everyone was really excited in the beginning. And then after a while I got sick in my update because the know their back of their office job. So I kinda just forgot about it until I came home and January, 2008 and I need money. And so I started a temp job, and I had a lot of free time and I really just hated being back in the, the office with the walls and everything.

And so I was like, I need to earn money to keep traveling. And so I started the website really as with the goal of it being an online resume, you know, it was very bare bones. I used to share a travel news, have an update, like tips and stories from my trip. And then there was a section where we’re like, hire me and it had my features and, you know, the guest blogs I did, I used to write for Matador travel.

So just as a way to sort of build up, a portfolio of like, Hey, Yeah, freelance writing because I’m wanting to read guidebooks, you know, I wanted to write for lonely planet. That was a dream, right. The guidebooks. And so just the blog was a way to hone my skills and just get in front of editors to be like, Hey look, I do right.

You know, here’s where I’ve been, you know, and, and sort of build that base. And eventually that became a thing where I didn’t need to freelance. Right.

[00:05:03] Nathan:
Was it called nomadic Matt from the beginning.

[00:05:06] Matthew:
He was, yeah. I B two names, nomadic Matt. And that does the world. Right. Because I like the double entendre of it. Right. Even though, but just cause I have a weird sense of humor and all my friends were like, you can’t do that one. You gotta do nomadic Matt. It was really good because it’s much better brand name, you know, in the long run.

But again, I wasn’t thinking about that. Right. I wasn’t thinking like, oh, I’m going to start this brand. You know, I gotta think of a clever name that people can remember. It was like,

Oh a place where people can see my work.

[00:05:39] Nathan:
Right. Okay. So now 13 and a half years later, what’s the, what’s the, the blog and newsletter look like. and I want to dive into the business side of it because I think a lot of people build successful newsletters, audience-based businesses, but don’t make the leap to like something bigger than themselves.

And so I want to dive into all those aspects of it.

[00:06:01] Matthew:
13 years later, it’s seven people. We just hired a new events coordinator to help. my director of events, Erica, coordinate all these virtual in person events that we’re going to kick off again. I have a full-time tech guy, a full-time director of content. We changed his title, but like three research assistants, because.

I picked a niche that like is always changing. Right. You know, you have a fitness website, how to do a pull up. It’s just, that’s it,

[00:06:37] Nathan:
You ranked for that keyword. You’re good to go.

[00:06:40] Matthew:
Yeah. Like how to do a pull up, doesn’t change what to do in Paris or the best hospitals in Paris, constantly changing, you know? so it takes three resources, distance.

Plus my content guy, me that basically keep up the content and then I have a part-time, graphic designer and part-time social coordinator.

[00:07:00] Nathan:
Nice. And how many subscribers do you have in the list now?

[00:07:03] Matthew:
We just called it, so it’s a two 50 because we just, cause I haven’t shaved it off in like five years or so. So we basically everybody that hasn’t opened the email in one year where we’re like, you want to be on.

And like 2% of them click that button. And then we just got rid of the other 90%. It was like 60,000 names.

[00:07:30] Nathan:
Yeah. So for everyone listening, two 50 in this case means 250,000.

[00:07:35] Matthew:
Yeah.

[00:07:36] Nathan:
Just to clarify, I 7% businesses off of 250 subscribers would be remarkable. That would be just as impressive, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. going into, so a lot of people, talk about or worry about, should I prune my list or that kind of thing?

What were the things that went into that for you? That’s a big decision to, to prune 60,000 people off a list.

[00:08:00] Matthew:
I think it was probably more, maybe I want to say six 60 to 80 I somewhere around there. we were pushing up against our account before I went to the next billing step.

So that’s always a good impetus to prune the list, but you know, I I’ve been thinking about it for a while because. You know, I I really want to see what my true open rate.

Is You know, like, okay, I have all these people and we were sending it this, I have multiple lists, but the main weekly list was like, 310,000-315,000 but it’s been so long since we called and we have so many emails there and I just really wanted to get a true sense of like, what’s our active audience.

And so between, between that and, pushing up against the next tier price tier. Yeah. it yeah. It’s cool to say like, oh, we have 300,000 300, you know, rather than 250,000 Right. But who cares? Right. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just a vanity metric, right? Yeah. It sounds cool. I get a million emails. Right. But if you only have a 10% open rate, You really only have 100,000.

[00:09:20] Nathan:
Right. I think that the times that it matters is maybe when you’re selling a book to a publisher and that might be the only time that you like that dead weight and your email us actually helps you.

[00:09:33] Matthew:
Yeah. Like if you’re, or you have a course, you know, are you trying to promote your numbers, but people would probably lie about that stuff too. yeah, so like, it really doesn’t matter because all that matters is like, what’s your true audience? Like who Who are the people that are really opening your stuff?

[00:09:50] Nathan:
Yeah. So let’s dive into the, well, I guess really quick, I should say I am a hundred percent in the camp of, like delete subscribers, like do that once a year, that kind of thing. Clean up the list, go for the highest number of engaged subscribers, rather than the highest number of subscribers. It’s just

[00:10:06] Matthew:
Right.

[00:10:07] Nathan:
To track.

[00:10:08] Matthew:
And, and I think you would know better than me, but isn’t this a good. Like signal to Gmail. And you know, when you, you don’t have a lot of dead emails, just go into a blank account. It’s never getting opened or marked as spam or whatever.

[00:10:24] Nathan:
Yeah, for sure. Cause a lot of these times, there’s a couple of things that happen. One is emails get converted to spam traps. And so it’s like say someone’s signed up for your email list six years ago And, they haven’t logged into that email account for a long time.

Google and others will take it and convert it to a spam trap and say, Hey, this email hasn’t been logged into in six years.

And so anyone sending to it, it’s probably not doing legit things now you’re over here. Like, no that person signed up for my list, but they’re basically like you should have cleaned them off your list years ago. And then if that person were to ever come back and log into that Gmail account, do you remember like, oh, just kidding here, have the, have the email account back, but they’re basically using that.

And so you can follow all the. Best practices as far as how people join your list. But if you’re not cleaning it, then you will still end up getting these like spam hits and, and other things. So you absolutely clean your list. Let’s talk the business side, on revenue, I don’t know what you want to share on the, on revenue numbers, but I’d love to hear any numbers you’re willing to share.

And then the breakdown of where that comes from, whether it’s membership, courses, conferences, that sort of thing.

[00:11:35] Matthew:
Yeah.

So there’s like the pre COVID world and the post COVID world. Right. You know, like,

[00:11:40] Nathan:
Yes.

[00:11:41] Matthew:
Cause I work in travel, so like, you know, pre COVID we did over a million and like I was probably gearing up to like in 2020, like one, five, I think I were going to get a little over one five. and again, you know, this is, I work in the budget travel side of things, right.

So like it’s going to sell a lot of $10 eBooks to get up to seven figures. salary books are 10 bucks. and so. Postcode during COVID week, I think in 2020 made like half a million. and this year we’ll probably get up to three quarters,

[00:12:23] Nathan:
Okay.

[00:12:24] Matthew:
K.

[00:12:25] Nathan:
He was coming back,

[00:12:26] Matthew:
Yeah. Yeah. and I think next year we’ll, we’ll get back over seven and then basically like how to go from there.

You know, so maybe 20, 23, I might get to that one, five that was going to get to in 2020. most of the revenue now comes from ads, and then affiliates. we did, we did do a lot on courses, but then I, one of the things that, you know, a big pandemic that stops your business, allows you to do is really look at the things you’re doing because every.

Zero. So it’s like when we start back up, is this worth investing time in? And so the answer is no. So we dropped down from, I think, peak of doing like $400,000 a year and horses, and this year we’ll do maybe 40. and that’s mostly because we just leave it up as like, you can buy this, we update it every six months.

If it needs, it’s basically like a high that blog course get all my numbers and tactics and strategies in there. but we don’t offer any support for it. Right. It’s just, you’re buying information. and so it’s very passive in that sense, but it’s not like a core business where we’re really moving and we were doing this pre COVID is moving into events and membership programs.

So like we have pneumatic map plus, which gets you like all our guides, monthly calls and sort of like a Patriot on kind of thing, but like free.

[00:14:03] Nathan:
That cost.

[00:14:04] Matthew:
Five to 75 bucks a month, depending on what you want. So it’s 5 25, 75. Most people opt for the five, of course. And it’s really geared to like, get the five.

But you know, that brings now, I think like three or four K a month. and then we have the events, which is donation based, but there’s just like another two K a month. And so this is like, since COVID right. So like, that’s say call it 50 K a year of, of revenue that we’ve added in. They didn’t exist before.

And now I know you’re, you can compare that against the loss of the courses, but we had been phasing those out for years. and so that’s really where we want to grow is bringing in more, you know, monthly revenue for that. Right. You know, Once we started, it’s easy and we’re gonna start doing tours again and, you know, so more high value things that don’t take as much time.

[00:15:08] Nathan:
Right. So on the core side, I think a lot of people listening, maybe they have an email list of five, 10, 15,000 subscribers, and they’re like, Hey, the next thing is to launch a course. And they’re hearing that’s where a bunch of the revenue is. And so it’s interesting you moving away from that. So let’s dive in more.

What, what made you look at the core side of your business and say, I don’t want to like restart that in a post COVID world.

[00:15:33] Matthew:
Yeah, there’s just, there’s a lot of competition, right? So like, I think it was like a blue ocean, red ocean strategy, you know, to think of that book of, you know, Blue Ocean Strategy. Right? One of the reasons we went into events is because a lot of our traffic comes from Google. And so it’s a constant battle of always trying to be one or, you know, in the first couple of spots.

Right with every blogger in every company with SEO budget, but there’s not a lot of people doing in-person events or building sort of a community in the travel space. So I looked at that of being like, okay, there are a lot of people doing courses and they love doing courses and they’re great teachers, you know, they’re, you know, you get folks who know like path when, you know, low, like everyone, all these teachable folks, you know, they, they love that stuff.

That’s not where my heart really was. And so thinking of like, this is a red ocean now, because you have, when I started this, these courses back in 2013, there wasn’t a lot of folks. Right. But now you have so many people with courses, so many Instagrammers and tic talkers selling their stuff. It’s sort of like, is this worth the time.

To like really invest in it when my heart really isn’t right. Like how can I maintain your 400 K in revenue a year?

[00:17:02] Nathan:
Right.

[00:17:03] Matthew:
What’s it going to take, you know, is that the best use of our resources? And the answer is not really, you know, let other people do that. Who love it. I mean, you want to buy my information.

It’s it’s solid stuff. Right. Everyone loves the advice, but to really create like a cohort, like your class, which is sort of like the new version of courses, you know, like, whether it’s a month or three months, it’s sort of like, you go with this like cohort, right. My heart really wasn’t into it because we can invest more in doing events and conferences and really in-person stuff.

Especially now that everyone’s really excited to do stuff in person again, with a lot less competition. It’s easy. It’s easy to start a course, but there’s a lot of capital investment in doing events that we have the resource to do that, you know, somebody with a 10,000 email list might not.

[00:18:03] Nathan:
I think I see a lot of people going into courses in, particularly as you alluded to cohort based courses where they’re doing it, like, Hey, this is a whole class that you’re doing, you know, you’re doing the fall semester for the month of October or whatever it is, I’m doing it, doing it the first time and really enjoying it because it’s a new challenge they’re showing up for their audience.

It’s just, it’s super fun on that, doing it for the second time and going, huh? Okay. That was way easier and way less. And then the third time they go, I don’t think I want to do this anymore. Like if the money is good and I just don’t enjoy showing up at a set time for a zoom call or whatever else. So it’s interesting of watching people jump on a bandwagon and some people it works for really well, and that is their strength and they love it.

And then other people that I’m going to like, look, the money’s good. And this is this just, isn’t what I want to spend my time on.

[00:19:02] Matthew:
Yeah. You know, I’ve been doing it for, you know, seven, eight years now and I just sort of lost the passion for, you know, I think it’s, I like when people take the information, they succeed with it. But I think after a while you start to realize, you know, it’s sort of a 90 10 rule, right? You, 90% of your students, aren’t really going to do anything with it.

And it’s not your fault. It’s just because they become unmotivated or, you know, so we tried to switch to the cohort based to be like, okay, this is the class weekly, weekly calls.

You know, come on, come together and you still get this drop off rate. That’s, you know, sort, it gets this hard and you’re like, all right, I’ve been doing this for eight years, you know, like moving on.

But I mean, if you have the love for like pat loves it, you know, like you’ve got a whole team about it, he’s got all these cohorts stuff that speaks to him where I think I’d rather do stuff in person that

[00:20:01] Nathan:
Right.

Well, let’s talk about the in-person side. Cause you did something that most people think is really cool and almost no one realizes how hard it is. I think I know how hard it is because I’ve attempted the same thing and that starting at a conference where everyone’s like, you have this big online following, like what you just need to, you know, you have hundreds of thousands of people you just need, I don’t know, 500 or a thousand of them to show up in a suit, that’s gotta be easy.

Right. And so they go and sort of conference, it’s wildly difficult. And so.

[00:20:33] Matthew:
Difficult.

[00:20:34] Nathan:
I’d love to hear what made you want to start the conference and then yeah, how’s it. How’s it gone so far?

[00:20:40] Matthew:
Made me want to start the conference was I really don’t think there’s a good conference in the chapel space. Yeah. And there are good conferences in the travel space that are very niche and narrow. you know, like there’s a woman in travel summit.

That’s really great. There’s one in Europe culture verse, which I liked, but that’s like a couple of hundred people there. Wasn’t like a, something to scale, right. With wits, which is women to travel is like 300 people. There was, this is no thousand person, 2000 parts. And like mega travel conference for media that has done like, you know, the conferences we go to where it’s like high level, you know, people coming outside of your immediate niche to talk about business skills.

You know, there’s, you know, In the conferences, there are, there’s always the same travel, like it’s me and like these other big names, travel bloggers over and over and over again. I want to take what I’ve seen and, you know, from social media world to, trafficking conversion, to mastermind talks, you know, to take all these things that I had gone to, we were like, let’s bring it together for travel.

Let’s create a high level, not a cheap, like hundred dollar events, like, you know, with major keynotes who get paid to speak, because you know, in a lot of travel conferences, you don’t get paid to speak, right? So you’re high. You’re going to get, you know, Cheryl strayed that come to your event for free.

That’s not waking up to do that. You know, I, you know, and while I can get nice deals from my friends, you still got to pay people right. For their time. And, and so that allows us to have a larger pool of people to create the event that I want to do. Because we will also get into the point where why should somebody who’s been blogging for five or six years, go to travel blogging conference app when nobody is at a more advanced stage of blogging than you are, you know, nobody understands SEO better than you do, right?

So like after a while you get into this, just drop off of people being like, do I want to fly around the world and hang out with my friends? So I wanted to also create an event where that I could go to and learn something is that I knew that would attract some of the other OJI, travel bloggers.

[00:23:06] Nathan:
Yeah. So how the, how the first one go, like what was easier than you expected and what was much harder than you.

[00:23:14] Matthew:
The first one went really well. We had 650 people, and you know, the next one we had 800. But now we’re closed because of Kobe, but we’re going to do one in 20, 22. And hopefully we get 800 again, things that shocked me, people buy tickets and don’t show up. Right. That’s weird. Right. Cause I was like, okay, we have 700, you know, I expected maybe like a 5% attrition rate, you know?

So like I sold my 750 tickets, but then like six 50, those 600 showed up because the other 50 of those speakers, right. I was like, wow, that’s a lot of no-shows for not achieving conference, you know? And so we plan, you know, a 10% attrition rate now.

[00:24:04] Nathan:
And you just mean someone who doesn’t even pick up their badge? Not even, they didn’t come to share us rates keynote, but just like they didn’t show up to anything at the conference.

[00:24:13] Matthew:
Yeah, they just did not show up to the conference at all, you know? And. So that was a shock me. I mean, I know I work in travel and, you know, people get last minute of press trips or they, you know, they buy their ticket and they can’t come cause, or they got stuck in the Seychelles or whatever, but I did not expect such a high level of no-shows. Because the food here’s another thing, food costs a lot of money. Right.

You know, I, I fully understand why the airlines took one olive out of your salad. Right. Because it’s one olive, but times a million people every day it’s actually adds up. Right. So like you think, oh, well it drinks five bucks.

That’s cool. We’ll do a happy hour. Okay. Now times that by a thousand drinks Write, you know, times two, because everyone’s drinking two or three, at least two. Right. So then you’re like, okay, that’s a $15,000 bill that you ended up with. you know, when everyone is all set up. Tax and tip hotel.

It’s crazy. It’s like, okay, these fees, you’re like, oh, I got to spend this like, yeah. Okay. Here is your lunch bill 50 grand.

But then there’s this fee that fee, this fee, this fee like Jake had like 65. You’re like, all right. I guess I got a budget for that too. So that was, that was really weird. Like high is the lunch cost, $40,000, you know, and actually hotels, overcharge, and they add a bunch of fees and yeah, you can get them pretty quick.

[00:25:46] Nathan:
So if you were, if I was starting to conference. They have 50,000 people on a email list or a hundred thousand. And I’m like, Matt, I heard you started a conference. I’m going to do it too. What advice do you have for me? Like what are the first things that you’d call out?

[00:26:03] Matthew:
It’s going to cost like three times more than you think. pricing. Where I went wrong in the second year. Right. So like we’ve lost money the first two years doing it, but I expected to lose money. It wasn’t because I was investing in this long-term thing. Right. But we’re at where I lost more money on the second year is that I really factor in flights as well as I did, like I kind of low balled it.

And so I always think he should. Oh. And I also invited, I kept inviting people without really seeing, like, where was I? on my like speaker fees. Right. So like really creating a budget and then sticking to it. And even if that means not getting some of your dream folks, to a later year, but working up the food and beverage costs first, because you know, you go to the hotel and they’re going to say your F and B, you know, is $90,000.

And if they never going to hit that, no, you’re going to go way. You’re going to blow cause you got to get them to say, what are all the fees? You know, like, okay. You know, if I have a 300 person conference and I want to do two lunches, what does that look like?

Plus all the taxes and fees,

[00:27:23] Nathan:
Okay, well, you, the launch price and you’ll, you’ll pencil that into your spreadsheet and they’ll fail to mention that there’s mandatory gratuity on top of that and taxes and whatever

[00:27:33] Matthew:
Yeah,

And whatever, you know, plate fee there is. Right. So you gotta factor all that in and then look at what you got left.

[00:27:40] Nathan:
It’s like when you’re buying a car and you have to talk in terms of the out the door price in

[00:27:45] Matthew:
Yeah.

[00:27:46] Nathan:
The sticker price,

[00:27:47] Matthew:
Yeah. I made that mistake when I bought my car last year, I was like, oh 17. And I was like, wait, how did 17 go from 17,000 to 22? And like, well,

[00:27:56] Nathan:
Right.

[00:27:57] Matthew:
Thing that I was like, ah, okay,

[00:28:00] Nathan:
Yeah. Do you think w what are some of the opportunities that have come out from running the conference and has it had the effects of your community that you’ve hoped? It would,

[00:28:10] Matthew:
You know, this is a very, blogger faced event, you know, more than just travel consumers. but it’s definitely allowed me to, you know, meet folks like Cheryl Austrade, you know, great way to meet your heroes. Is there pay them to come speak at a conference? so, you know, I, I know Cheryl, like, that’s cool.

The becoming more ingrained in sort of the, the PR side and with the demos and the brands, because, you know, on the website, I destination marketing organization.

[00:28:44] Nathan:
Okay.

[00:28:45] Matthew:
So they’re like, you know, visit, you know, Boise visit Idaho, we call them a DMO. And so like since I don’t really do press trips on the website, I don’t know a lot of them really well.

And so this has been a way to be, become more ingrained on that sort of industry side of events and not live in my own. and that’s helpful because now I know all these folks, when we want to have meetups that might be sponsored when I do a consumer event, which is next up. So get these folks to come for that.

So it’s just really been good, just professionally to meet a lot of people that I would normally just not meet simply because I go to events and they were like, Hey, come to our destination, we’ll give you a free trip. And like, you have a policy. And so I don’t get invited to as many things as you would think.

[00:29:37] Nathan:
Yeah. Why, why do you have that policy? What do you like? What’s behind it. And why is that different from other travel bloggers?

[00:29:45] Matthew:
Hi, it mostly stems from my hatred of reciprocity. You know, like if you, if I go on a free trip and it sucks, like I then create, it’s awkward. If I have to go like hot, like, Hey, you suck. And I have to write this online. Then it creates a lot of bad blood that gets talked about, you know, it’s a very small industry.

People move around a lot, so you get less opportunities or I can just go, Hey, I’m not going to write that. And then they feel bad. Cause like, you know, like you’re a nice person just doing their job, you know, like it’s not your fault. I had a bad time. you know, I did this once with a friend and she gave me a couple of places to stay, at a hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica and chill out and sort of tell was really far out of town.

And th the amount it took me to take a taxi back and forth. Like, I could’ve just got a place right. In the center of San Jose, you know? And so I was like, I really, I just don’t think it’s a good fit for my Anya. And she was very unhappy about it. I was like, I mean, I could write in, but I have to say that.

Right. Yeah. And so I just never wanted to put myself in those situations again. I also think that taking a lot of free travel, like I do budget travel. So you given me a resort like that. Doesn’t how does that help my audience? So if I start living this awesome life and getting free stuff, that’s great for me, but it’s not good for my audience.

And so I don’t mind taking free tours. Like, let’s say I’m going to go to Scotland. Right? I did. This actually was real life example. I wanted to access cause I wanted to write about scotch. So I was like, Hey, I don’t want to do like the public tour. you know, that 20 bucks, you know, it’s like 10 minutes and you get the, I like, I want to talk to people because I want quotes for articles.

I’m going to do like history stuff. So I contacted the Scottish tourism board and they got, got me visited. I that’s where I went to. I just love P scotch. and so they got me like private tours. So I can like take notes in such. and they gave me a free accommodation that I was like, I want to be really clear about this.

I’m not mentioning this place. And they’re like, just, just take it. And so, and I didn’t mention it and I didn’t mention that, you know, I got access to these, you know, distillers to ask some questions, but it was more about building this article as a journalist than,

Hey, I want like free tours, you know, like, I mean, I saved 20 bucks. Right. But the point was, I wanted to learn about the process to write about this story beam. And then they offered me free flights and stuff. It was like, now I just, I just want the tourist, please. Thanks.

[00:32:44] Nathan:
Yeah, it’s interesting of the, what a lot of people would view as the perks to get into travel blogging. Right. I want to get into it because then I’d have these free chips or I can have these offs or whatever else, I guess the right apps you get, no matter what, but, You know that that’s the other side of like, everything comes with a cost.

And I think it’s important to realize what you’re doing because you want to versus what you’re doing, because now you feel obligated because someone gave you something for free.

[00:33:12] Matthew:
Yeah. The most thing is I tend to accept our city tourism part, which gets you like free access to museums and stuff. I was like, okay, that’s cool.

But beyond that, I just, you know, I don’t want to get into, like, you want to give me a museum pass. I’m going to see these museums anyway. Sure. I’ll save some money and I’ll, I’ll make a wheel note, but I’m going to no obligation to write about which museum, because I write about the ones I like anyway.

So,

[00:33:39] Nathan:
Right.

[00:33:40] Matthew:
You know, that’s not to me like free travel. That’s not what people think of Like the perks of. the job are.

[00:33:46] Nathan:
I, that was funny. When I learned about the, like the welcome packet that cities will, will give, like the first time I saw it in action was. I went to Chris, Guillebeau’s like end of the world party in Norway. and I was hanging out with Benny Lewis there who runs, you know, fluent in three months, a mutual friend of both of ours.

You’ve known him longer than I have, but like, we’re both at our check into the hotel and he’s got like this whole thing of all these museum passes he’s got, and he’s just like, yeah, I just emailed the tourism board and said, I was going to say, and they’re like, oh, blogger. And they gave him like, you know, access to everything and you only ended up using half of it because we weren’t there for that long, but,

[00:34:28] Matthew:
Yeah. That’s great. You should always get these discount cards, like the comparison museum pass or the New York mic go card that will save you a lot of money if you’re doing lots of heavy sites in.

[00:34:39] Nathan:
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. okay. So how does actually let’s dive into the COVID side, right? Cause COVID took a hit huge hit on the entire traveling. we saw that just in the like running ConvertKit where, you know, having bloggers in so many different areas, we had a lot of growth because lots of people were stuck at home and start like, I’m going to start a new blog.

I’m going to have time to, to work on this or whatever. And it was a lot of cancellations, mostly from the travel industry. If people like, look now that what this 50,000 person list, that was a huge asset is now just a giant liability. because no one’s planning trips. How did you navigate that time? And what, like, what’s the journey been?

You know, the last 18 months, two years,

[00:35:28] Matthew:
Well first I would say that’s really shortsighted of someone canceling their 50,000 person list like

[00:35:34] Nathan:
I think they were like exporting sitting on it and they’re going to come back. But, but I agree. It was very shortsighted.

[00:35:39] Matthew:
Yeah. Like just like throw it away. 50,000 emails, right. I mean, it was tough in the beginning. You know, we went from like January and February were like best months ever, you know? And like, I mean, even, and then all of a sudden like, like March 13th is like that Friday, you know, it’s like everything crashes, like again, like we were on our way to have a banner year, like, like, like hand over fist money, you know?

And, and then to being like, how am I going to pay the bills? You know? and so, cause you know, we, haven’t sort of the, the overhang from Java con, right. You know, like we didn’t make money on the first two years. And year three was the, the breakeven year and travel con was in, Right in the world ended in March.

Right. And so I had laid out all, like, you’re so close to the event, that’s you? That’s when you start paying your bills. Right. And the world hits and all the sponsors who, you know, have their money, you know, in the accounting department are like, oh, we’re not paying this now. And so you’re like, well, I’ve just paid $80,000 in deposits and all that money that was going to offset.

It has gone. and then you have people canceling. A lot of people were really mean about it. They’re like, oh, I’m, I’m back now. And we’re going to do charge backs, that, you know, you have that overhang and just, you know, fall in revenue it’s it was really tough. thank God for government loans, to be quite honest, like I, I went to native through if it wasn’t for, all that, because a lot of my.

My money was tied up in non-liquid assets. So it wasn’t like I could just like sell some socks though, you know, pay the bills. but things have come back a lot. I mean, there’s a lot of paint up the man, for travel, I view it like this way, right? You got kids, right. You know, they get in trouble, you take away their toy and then you give them back.

Right. Where do they want to do now? They just want to play with that toy even more because it’s like, no, it’s mine. No one else can have it. And like where you want to do this other toy. No. And so now that the toy of travel is being given back to people like people are like, never again, am I going to miss out on this opportunity to travel on my dream trips?

Let’s make it happen. So we had a really good summer. I spoke to mediocre fall and winter just as the kids are back in school, people are traveling less, you know, but as more in the world, that? will be good. but again, as I said, at the beginning of this, it’s going to take awhile for us to get, to get back to where we were, but there’s definitely demand there,

[00:38:36] Nathan:
When’s the next conference when the travel con happening again.

[00:38:39] Matthew:
April 29th,

[00:38:41] Nathan:
Okay.

[00:38:41] Matthew:
22,

[00:38:42] Nathan:
So what’s the how of ticket sales benefit for that? Is there like that pent-up demand showing up and people booking conference tickets or are they kind of like, wait and see, you know, you’re not going to cancel this one too kind of thing.

[00:38:55] Matthew:
Yeah, I mean, we’re definitely not canceling it. I mean, the world would have to really end for it. We just launched, this week. So, early October, we just announced our first round of speakers. and we sold like 10 or 15 tickets. I don’t expect a lot of people, to buy until the new year I saw this.

And the old event, right? Because in the old event we were had in May, 2019. Right. And we announced in the fall, but it wasn’t until like, you know, a few months prior that people started buy their ticket. Right. Because they don’t know where they’re going to be. You know, where are they flying from? What were the COVID rules going to be like, the demand is there.

But I, I know people are probably just waiting and seats for their own schedule too, you know? So, but you were against so 800 tickets and honestly, from what I’ve heard from other events, you know, people are selling out, you know, because there was such demand, like it’s not a problem of selling the tickets, so I’m not sure.

[00:40:01] Nathan:
Yeah, one thing, this is just a question that I’m curious for myself. since I also run a conference, what do you think about conferences that rotate cities or like Mo you know, move from city to city, which we’ve been to a lot of them that do it. You know, the fin con podcast movement are

Two longer running ones that you and I have both been to. obviously that’s what you’re doing. The travel column. well, domination summit, which we’ve both been to a lot, you know, it was like very much it’s Portland. It’s always Portland. We’ll never be anywhere anywhere else. What do you think, why did you chose? Why did you choose the approach that you did in what you think the pros and cons are?

[00:40:39] Matthew:
Yeah, for, for me it was, you know, we’re in travel. I wanted to travel. Right. And plus, you know, I mean, you get up, we get a host, right? So like Memphis is our sponsor. Right. It’s in Memphis. Yeah, it was supposed to be in new Orleans. New Orleans was our host sponsor. Right. So moving it from city to city allows us to get, you know, a new host sponsor every year is going to pony up a bunch of money.

Right. I don’t know how Podcast move into it, but I think if I wasn’t in travel and it was more something like traffic and conversion, or maybe we’ll domination summit, I would probably do it in the same place over and over again because you get better consistency. you know, one of the things I hate about events is that they move dates and move locations.

Right. And, and so it’s a little hard to in travel cause you know, COVID really screwed us. Right. But we’re moving to being, you know, in the same timeframe, right. We’re always going to be in early May. That’s where I want to fall into like early may travel car, change the city, but you got the same two-week window, because it’s hard to plan, right?

So like if you’re changing dates in cities, you’re, you’re just off of a year. So I wanted some consistency, make it easier for people to know, like in their calendar, Java con early Mac, Java con, early Mac, you

[00:42:17] Nathan:
Yep.

[00:42:18] Matthew:
It doesn’t really work out cause of COVID, but post COVID we’re we’re moving to that, that, early may

[00:42:24] Nathan:
Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk more about sort of scaling different between different levels of the business. So there’s a lot of people who say, all right, 10, 20, 50,000 subscribers, somewhere in there. And it’s very much the solopreneur of like, this is, I’m a writer. I just do this myself. Or maybe they, you know, contract out graphic design or a little bit more than that.

What were some of the hardest things for you and why and what worked and what didn’t when you made the switch from it being nomadic, Matt being just Matt to Matt plus a team.

[00:43:00] Matthew:
Yeah, it It’s definitely hard to give up that control, right. Because you always think no one can do your business better than you can. And I mean, even to this day, I still have issues doing, you know, giving up control. Right.

[00:43:14] Nathan:
What’s something that you don’t want to, that you’re like still holding onto that, you know, you need to let go of

[00:43:19] Matthew:
Probably just little things like checking in on people and, you know, Content probably like Content. I’m very specific about my voice, the voice we have. So. But I should let my content, people make the content that I know is fine. but I definitely, probably overly check on my teams to be like, what’d you do today?

You know, you know, that kind of stuff. but I did take a vacation recently and I went offline for a week and they didn’t run the thing down. So I was like, oh right. That was my like, okay, I can, I can let go. And it’s going to be okay. But, so getting comfortable with that much earlier on, I would probably save you a lot of stress and anxiety.

I definitely think you should move to at least having somebody, you know, a part-time VA, if you’re making over six figures, hire somebody because you know, how are you are not going to go from a 100k to 500k really by yourself? Unless, you know, you just have some crazy funnel that you do, but even the people I know who are solopreneurs, they still have two or three people helping them a little bit part, even if it’s just part-time because the more money you make, the more time you have to spend keeping that income up.

And so your goal as the creator in the owner should be, how can I grow? How can I make more money? It should not be setting up your WordPress blog. You know, It should not be answering joke emails It should not be, you know, scheduling your social media on Hootsuite, that kind of low level stuff can be done by, you know, a part-time VA And maybe that part-time VA becomes a full-time VA as you scale up more. But you know, if you, you have to free up your time and you’re never going to free up your time, if you’re spending a lot of that time, scheduling. So you mean that the people I know who have half a million dollar businesses, selling courses, you know, and they’re really just a solopreneur.

They have somebody do that grunt work, right. Plus if you’re making that much money, is that the best use of your time now? Really? Right. So getting somebody to do sort of the admin front work, as soon as you can, even if it’s on a part-time basis will allow you to focus on growth marketing, and monetization, which is where you should be like Podcast.

This week. I have like four or five podcasts I’m doing, right. You know, that is a good chunk of my week. If I have to spend that time scheduling on social media, you know, or setting up blog posts, like I can do that. And this is where the growth in the audience comes in.

[00:46:12] Nathan:
Okay. So since we’re talking about growth, what are the things that you can tie to the effort that you put in that drives growth? Are there direct things or is it a very indirect unattributable

[00:46:27] Matthew:
Yeah, I think there’s some direct things like, you know, before, you know, asking 10 years ago, I would say guest posting on websites. Right. You write a guest post on like Confederacy’s site and boom, tons of traffic. Right. that doesn’t exist anymore. I mean, yeah. You can get a lot of traffic, but it’s not like the huge windfall it used to be, but it’s still good for brand awareness.

SEO. Great for links. Right. I would say things today that I can tie directly to stuff Podcast and, Instagram. So doing, like, doing a joint Instagram live with another creator. Right. You know, like me and, you know, it’s I know pat. because someone with a big following there, we do, we do a talk, you know, 30 minutes, you know, I can see in my analytics, like a huge spike in my following right after that.

And so that’s a great way to sort of grow your audience is to do Instagram collabs in just like 30 minutes tops and

[00:47:32] Nathan:
Podcasts

[00:47:33] Matthew:
I get a lot of people will be like, I saw you on this podcast. I was like, wow, cool.

[00:47:37] Nathan:
I always struggle with that of like, of all the activities that you can do. Cause you get to a point where there’s just so many opportunities open to you and it’s like, which are the best use of time. What should you say yes to, what should you say no to, and I don’t know. Do you have a filter along those or do you just, is it just kind of gut-feel

[00:47:53] Matthew:
I will say yes to any text-based interview, normally it is the same questions over and over again. So I sort of have a lot of canned responses that I can just kind of paste. and tweak But those are links, so I’m like, sure. Yeah. Send your questions over. Cut paste, tweak, you know, you know,

[00:48:12] Nathan:
Customize

[00:48:13] Matthew:
Customize a little bit, but you know, how many times do I need to rewrite from scratch?

How’d you get into blogging, you know, what’s your favorite country, Podcasts I definitely have a bigger filter on like you, I don’t do new podcasts.

[00:48:27] Nathan:
Okay.

[00:48:27] Matthew:
I know that’s like bad. because you know, this new podcast could become the next big thing, but come back to me when you have some following.

[00:48:36] Nathan:
I like Seth, Godin’s rule I’m not on south Dakotan’s level by any means, but he says like, come back to me. When you have 100 episodes, I will happily be your 100th interview on your podcast or something

[00:48:47] Matthew:
Yeah.

[00:48:48] Nathan:
And he’s just like, look, Put in your time and then we’ll talk.

[00:48:51] Matthew:
Yeah, so I like, I don’t look for just following, but like again, you know, knowing that people give up on blogs, people give up Podcast too. So. You know, you have to have been doing it for like six months a year, like week a weekly, you know? So I know like this something you care about. and I like to listen because you know, you get a lot of new people and they’re not really great.

You know, they asked us like a lot of canned questions and you’re like, listen, you’re taking, you know, an hour, hour and a half of my time. You gotta make it interesting for me.

Well, yeah, Podcast. And then for Instagram stories you gotta have, or Instagram lives, either a brand new audience, or if you’re in travel, at least 75,000.

Cause I have like a one 30, so I want to keep it in the same in a level.

[00:49:43] Nathan:
Yeah.

I know nothing about Instagram and promotions on Instagram and all of that is there. If someone were to, like, in my case, if I came to you and say, Hey, I want to grow my Instagram following. I’ve got 3000 people or 5,000 people or something like that. And I want to be have 50,000 a year from now.

Where would you point me?

[00:50:05] Matthew:
I would say, do you join Instagram lives with people like once a week, you know, and just, or maybe once a week for you and then go to somebody else on their side once a week. So, and just kind of work your way up, like find people in your, your sort of follower count level, you know? So in this case, I’d probably do, you know, you know, 1000 to 5,000, I would look for in your niche and like get online for 30 minutes and talk about whatever it is you want to talk about and and then go to someone else’s channel and do that, and then keep doing that because you’ll just see giant spikes and then you can move up the the ladder.

Then you have 10,000 followers and someone with 25,000 followers might give you the time of day. And then you talk about that, you know, and you just sort of build awareness because you’re always there. You’re always around.

[00:51:03] Nathan:
It’s a really good point about the figuring out what those rough bands are and reaching out within those. Because I think a lot of people are like, I’m going to go pitch whoever on doing Instagram live together. And it’s like, you have 5,000 and they have 150,000. And like the content might be a perfect fit, but they’re most likely going to say no, because you’re not

[00:51:24] Matthew:
Yeah.

[00:51:24] Nathan:
Driving that much value for, or that many subscribers for their audience.

[00:51:29] Matthew:
Yeah. You know, and so you, maybe I would, you know, someone was like a finance blogger, and they had like 40,000, 30, 40,000. I’d probably.

We do it because people who like to say money, like say money on travel. So it’d be like, there’s probably a good fit. And you know, 30,000 people, they might not know me or they have like, like you said, 3000, come back to me, you know, when there’s another zero,

[00:51:57] Nathan:
Right. Well, and then the other thing that’s going to be true is if I’m bringing you to, to my audience to share and teach something, if you’re using this strategy, like go do another 20 of these or 50 of these, and your pitch will be better. And the way that you teach finance to travel bloggers or whatever else it is, is going to get so much better.

[00:52:17] Matthew:
Yeah,

[00:52:18] Nathan:
It’s like, I kind of don’t want to be your Guinea pig. You know, I don’t want my audience to be your Guinea

[00:52:23] Matthew:
Yeah,

[00:52:24] Nathan:
Pig for your content. And so just get more experienced and come back.

[00:52:28] Matthew:
Yeah. And you know, you also gotta think about, you know, people are so time-starved right. You know, when I started blogging, I could. There was no Instagram. There was no Snapchat. There was no Tech-Talk, you know, Twitter was barely a thing. So I didn’t have to split my focus on so many different platforms and channels.

Right. I can just, alright, I can be on this one blog, but now when people are like, whoa, sorry, I have to like manage all these different social channels and all of these comments in the blog and everything. They not don’t have like an hour to give, you know, to just anybody way do you could have before,

[00:53:12] Nathan:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s so true. Okay. So on the email side, specifically, if someone came to you with say 1,000 newsletter subscribers today, and they’re like, I want to grow, I mean, you’re looking to grow to 5,000. This might be so far removed from where you’re at that you’re like, I don’t even know if that was, you know, a decade ago that I was in that position, but what are you seeing that’s working?

Where would you point them?

[00:53:33] Matthew:
What works for us right now? one having email forms everywhere on your site, sidebar, footer, we have one below the content below the content forms, and popups, popups, the work they’re really great. we find for really long posts, having a form in the middle of the post converts better than, at the end of the post, because know a A lot of people don’t read to the end, but when they get to in the middle you’re still there.

You know, if you look at heat maps are really long websites, right? You just see that drop-off right. So if all your forms are at the bottom of the page, they’re just not getting the visibility, that you need. so middle of the page,

[00:54:19] Nathan:
Do you play with a lot of different incentives of like, you know, Opt-in for this fee guide, you know, or are you customizing it to something for a particular country or there, the content that they’re reading

[00:54:30] Matthew:
Yeah, so we use OptinMonster for that. and so we have, like, if If you go to our pages that are tagged Europe, you get a whole different set of options. than if you go to Australia, like, and like the incentives are like, you know, best hostels in Europe, you know, best hostels in Australia, right? Like little checklist guides.

And I tweak what the copy for that, you know, just to see what wording, will lift up a better conversion rate. But yeah, we definitely, because, you know, we cover so many geographic areas. The needs of someone going to Europe are a little different than somebody going to New Zealand. So we, we definitely customize that kind of messaging. And I think that helps a lot, you know, and definitely customizing messaging as much as possible. Um know, but in terms of just, you know, we can talk about, you know, the market, like how do you word things, but middle pop-ups and mil of blog posts definitely converts the best. And so like that’s where we see a lot of growth, as well as, just on Instagram telling people to sign up for my newsletter or Twitter or Facebook, but don’t let the algorithm, you know, keep you from your travel tips, sign up now and people do.

[00:55:58] Nathan:
Okay. And is that like swipe up on stories that you’re doing

[00:56:02] Matthew:
Yeah.

[00:56:03] Nathan:
You know, on an Instagram live or all the above?

[00:56:06] Matthew:
All the above.

[00:56:07] Nathan:
Yeah.

[00:56:07] Matthew:
You just constantly reminding people to sign up for the list, you know, and. One of the failings of so many important for influencers today is, you know,

They always regret everyone as everyone does. They always regret not starting to list, you know? And so, you know, you just got to hammer into people, sign up for the list, sign up for the list, sign up for the list.

Yeah. And a lot of the copy is, do you see all my updates? No. Would you like to sign up for this newsletter?

[00:56:39] Nathan:
Yeah, because everyone knows. I mean, I come across people all the time. It’s like, I used to follow them on Instagram. I haven’t seen, oh no, I do still follow them on Instagram. Instagram just decided that I apparently didn’t engage with their content enough or something.

[00:56:53] Matthew:
Yeah,

[00:56:54] Nathan:
So now I no longer see their posts,

[00:56:56] Matthew:
Yeah. You like, I go, I always go to my like 50 least interacted profiles. Right. And, you know, there are some people that aren’t there. I interact with this guy all the time. How is this the least attractive? But that that’s Instagram and saying, here are the people we don’t show you in your feet.

[00:57:13] Nathan:
W where do you see that? Is that

[00:57:16] Matthew:
If you go to your, who you’re following, it’s it should be up on the top.

[00:57:20] Nathan:
Hmm. All right. I’ll have to look at that.

[00:57:22] Matthew:
Yeah. I’ll send you a screenshot. and so like, that’s the algorithm be like, here are the people who you interact with the least, but it’s like, no, I, I love their stuff. why why do it take them from me? So,

[00:57:36] Nathan:
Zuckerberg is like, do you really love their stuff? I just not feeling it.

[00:57:40] Matthew:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so, yeah, it’s just, you know, the algorithms are terrible and what I hate and I learned this last year, and this was sort of a unsurprising, but surprising thing is that stories, which used to be like the latest first.

[00:57:59] Nathan:
Yeah.

[00:57:59] Matthew:
That is, they have an algorithm for that now, too. And I was like, I, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am surprised.

And I’m annoyed by that because like, I liked it when it was just the newest first, but Nope, now that is based on, you know, sort of like Tik TOK thing of like, oh, this story is getting really a lot of interactions. We’ll bring it up the front of people’s queue or, you know, so it’s not just like your first, because you had one, one second ago, you know, like it could, it’s based on an algorithm

[00:58:35] Nathan:
Yeah.

And that’s how it’s all going to go. Facebook did that a lot, you know, with Facebook fan pages back in the day where it used to be fantastic for engagement. And then they were like, yeah, it’s fantastic. If you pay us

[00:58:46] Matthew:
Yeah. And even then it’s like, I would pay to boost posts. I was like, great. You saw, I lectured five people. What? I just gave you a hundred bucks and that was. And there was some guy you remember him commenting last year. He was like, whatever happened to this page? I was like, I’m still here. He’s like, no, no, no, no.

And this isn’t a common thread in Facebook. He’s like your pages to get a lot more engagement. What happened? I was like, oh, Facebook algorithm. I was like, people just don’t see it. Let me tell you where all my analytics side it’s like this page. So I have 2000 people. You’re like great. 1%, woo

[00:59:23] Nathan:
Do you do paid advertising? I’d like to get email subscribers.

[00:59:28] Matthew:
We used to, but, the CPMs went up so much that it wasn’t worth the effort. You know, like paying a dollar 52 bucks for an email subscriber, is just a lot of money for, for, for things. We don’t mind ties directly. Like we’re not taking people through finals buy a course, right? Like just to get rot email, I’m not paying two bucks for.

Yeah. And, and so I just, we stopped paying, like during the pandemic, like, June, June of last year, we were like, oh, we’re going to take a break. And then we paid somebody to help us for it to make kind of reset it up. But I just had to spend down so much. I was like, you know what, I’m going to turn off for a bit.

And yeah, that’s been like,

[01:00:17] Nathan:
Didn’t really miss it.

[01:00:18] Matthew:
Yeah, I looked at the numbers recently cause I was thinking, should we do it? And it’s not that big of a difference of just doing it organically on like Instagram stories or just on the page. Right. And I also don’t really like giving money to the Zuckerberg empire of VO. I just not a fan of that business.

And so like, I know my ad spend is low, but I can’t say just. On a rod number. Like it wasn’t that big of a deal. Like, you know, like, cause the CPMs were so high, we were having to pay a lot of money. So like we put in like two grand a month and we weren’t getting thousands. We getting hundreds of people, you know, I want four for two grand.

I want thousands of people.

[01:01:06] Nathan:
Yeah. For my local newsletter, we’re doing paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram and averaging about $2 per subscriber. And that I think now that’s considered pretty good. You’d like a lot of, with a broader audience, you’d be at $3 or more per subscriber and it gets expensive pretty fast.

[01:01:23] Matthew:
Yeah. I mean, but I think at some point you’ll just see such diminishing returns that, you know, I mean, how many people are in Boise, can you hit, you know, over and over again?

Right.

[01:01:35] Nathan:
Yep.

[01:01:36] Matthew:
I, I was just reading Seth Godin’s book. This is Marketing. And he said, you know, they talked about ads.

You turned off ads when the Content says turn ‘em off. And my Content, I was like, you know, they’re not really paying for themselves.

[01:01:50] Nathan:
Yeah. Let’s see. Yeah. You turn that off. Looking forward, maybe like two or three years is that I think your business has fascinating of the approach that you have of taking an online audience, building a real team around it, and then building it into the in-person community. what do you think the business is going to look like in two, three years?

Where, where is revenue coming from? What’s your vision for the events and meetups and what are the things that like over that time period, they get really excited.

[01:02:19] Matthew:
Yeah. Two, three years. So we’re talking, you know, 20 by 20, 23, most of our revenue coming from stuff in person, you know, having chapters around the world, people pay to go to them. So, you know, it it’s like 10 bucks and you can bring your friends for free, right. So it’s like five bucks versus. Just for the cost of like hosting events.

Right. doing lots of that, doing tours, we’re bringing back. and they won’t be just with me cause they’re community events. Right. So we’ll have guides, right. So it’s not just, you’re coming to travel with me, sort of what Rick, Steve does. Right. You go on and Rick Steves tour, it’s his itinerary, but he’s not on the tour.

Right. He shows up to a couple of them throughout the season when it’s not like you don’t expect him to be your guide at the time. So moving to that, having a consumer event for like, like a, like a world domination summit, you know, a weekend somewhere just for travel consumers, having an app for both having an app for that company. then online just being a lot of and affiliates and you know, even me. Just even taking away just having this like passive income course, just because, you know, one less thing to worry about. Right.

And then travel con, so being around, but actually making money this time.

[01:03:47] Nathan:
Do you think travel con is going to turn into, I mean, obviously it’s a significant amount of revenue, but the expenses are so high. Do you think it will turn into a profitable business

[01:03:56] Matthew:
Oh yeah. Yeah. Like, I mean, a lot of the unprofitability is just comes from the fact that I had no idea where that was doing.

[01:04:02] Nathan:
Yeah, I know that firsthand from my own conference, so yeah.

[01:04:07] Matthew:
It was, I didn’t realize how quickly expenses gets that. Right. You know, being like, oh, okay. Like my food and beverage budget is 120,000 writing that in there. And then getting $145,000 bill because, oh yeah, it’s 120,000 food, but then there’s tax fees, which we, you know, all this stuff and like, Okay, well, that’s $25,000 off the profit.

Right. and so with a better handle of expenses, like we were definitely like this year, we were gonna like reg even, you know, at the very minimum, we’ll pre COVID and this year we’ll also break break event. Um it’s and just keeping a handle on, you know, like, well, how will I don’t invite a hundred speakers, you know?

And, and be like, oh, I had planned to only budget, you know, 50,000 speaker fees, but now I’m at 80. Okay. Like, handling the cost better. We’re good. Now I have a professional events team that kind of slaps me around and it’s like, can’t spend that money.

[01:05:06] Nathan:
I know how it is, where I’m like, Hey, what if, and then just like, now

[01:05:10] Matthew:
Yeah,

[01:05:10] Nathan:
Love it, but no,

[01:05:12] Matthew:
Yeah,

[01:05:12] Nathan:
Don’t like, you don’t have the budget for it.

[01:05:15] Matthew:
Yeah. But no, I mean, you know, we used to have a party. And we’re getting rid of the second night party because people don’t want to go. Like we didn’t have a lot of people show up cause like they’re out and about on town. So it’s like, wow, I just spent, you know, $40,000 for like a third of the conference to come, you know, why not take that money and use it to something that’s more valuable for everybody that has more like impact for dollar spent and still not like go over budget.

You know, same thing with lunches. We got, we were getting rid of, we’re doing one lunch now.

You know, cause people don’t really care that much, you know, about in

[01:06:01] Nathan:
Yeah, it’s super interesting.

Well, I love the vision of where the conference is going, and particularly just the way that the whole community interplays. I think it’s been fun watching you figure out what you want your business model to be, because obviously, with a large audience, your business model can be any one of a hundred different variations.

I like that you keep iterating on it, and figuring out the community.

[01:06:26] Matthew:
Yeah, we’re definitely going in-person. We’re definitely going to expand to colleges. So, taking the meetup and doing a presentation to a local student union. Because you got to keep people in the grind, right? Keep feeding the grind. So, college students love saving money.

We are experts at that. They love to travel. So, just giving a presentation to college campuses around the world as a way to expose them to our brand, and get them to our local event. Like, “Hey college students in Boston, do you like this event? Well, we have a local chapter here. Come join us.”

[01:07:08] Nathan:
Right. Yeah.

[01:07:10] Matthew:
They sign up for that, and they get my email.

[01:07:13] Nathan:
I like it.

Well, if anyone wants to sign up and follow along, and all of that, where should they go to see the Instagrams, and subscribe to the newsletter, and everything else?

[01:07:22] Matthew:
Yeah. You can find me at NomadicMatt.com. The community website is, TheNomadicNetwork.com, and @NomadicMatt on every social media platform.

[01:07:32] Nathan:
That’s the good thing about finding something somewhat unique, and doing it nice and early.

[01:07:37] Matthew:
Yeah.

[01:07:38] Nathan:
You can claim it, rather than being “The” whatever, at underscore something.

[01:07:43] Matthew:
Yeah. I mean, it also helps having an established brand and the trademark, because if someone took my name on TikTok, and I was just like, “Nope, TikTok.” And they’re like, “Okay, it’s now yours.”

[01:07:54] Nathan:
There you go. Yep. That’s a good way to go.

Well, man, thanks for hanging out today, and I’ll catch you later.

[01:07:58] Matthew:
Yeah. Thanks for having me.

58 episodes