Today’s guest is the one and only Neil Patel.
If you don’t know Neil well you may be living inside of a box.
The Wall Street Journal calls Neil a top influencer on the web. Forbes says he is one of the top 10 online marketers and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the top hundred most brilliant companies in the world.
He was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by president Obama and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
He has also been awarded with congressional recognition from the United States House of Representatives.
Justin Verrengia: It is a true honor to have you on the show today Neil how are you doing my friend?
Neil Patel: I am doing great thanks for having me.
Justin Verrengia: It’s a true honor, I just want to take the time to thank you for speaking at our Revolution event, there was probably about 1,200 people there from all around the world and you delivered over six hours of just pure gold bars and we just appreciate it so much and you said something on stage. You said, “This is the most enthusiastic crowd of people I have ever seen” because you were doing a blogging training and I thought that was kind of cool so thank you.
Neil Patel: It was actually awesome, I actually meant it. I speak so often but I never seen a crowd that enthusiastic and that engaged.
Justin Verrengia: Right on man and that’s a true complement so thanks brother. I want to kick the interview off with an interestingly weird fact about yourself.
Neil Patel: I’m trying to think what is a weird fact about myself, I’m OCD I don’t know if most people know that, I don’t mind touching hands or any like that, I’m OCD in which if my house isn’t clean it freaks me out or when I go to the airport, I actually have booties that are put over my socks.
Justin Verrengia: I have never heard anyone say that but it sounds like a clever idea because those airport floors are really dirty aren’t they?
Neil Patel: They are.
Justin Verrengia: Cool I appreciate that, if you don’t mind sharing, how did your journey as an entrepreneur all begin?
Neil Patel: My journey began when I was 16 years old, that was what I call “My first real start up” that which I tried to create a website that would connect people who are interested in finding a job with people who are looking for candidates for job openings. Now the business failed. It was just an exact replica of monster.com but instead of creating a good replica I created a shity replica, never succeeded but that was my first start of being an “Internet entrepreneur.”
Justin Verrengia: Right on, and continue taking us through the journey. You didn’t strike gold on your first attempt so that obviously didn’t stop you.
Neil Patel: It did not stop me. With that business I thought when you pop up a website people just come to your website, I was naïve I didn’t know better. So I had to learn marketing, I actually first paid a few companies to help me out with the marketing, I lost all the money and that didn’t create any results but I did end up learning how to build traffic to my own site because I lost all the money and I had no choice but to learn on my own and I actually got pretty good at it.
My site started ranking well for job valuated terms, still wasn’t making any money because I didn’t know how to monetize but I was getting traffic and from there I decided I was going to college and I’m going to skip this entrepreneur thing and just go get a job. I started nighttime college classes while I was in high school and my first speech 101 I gave a speech on how the search engines work and how Internet marketing works and someone from the audience hired me and they are paying me at that time $3,500 or $5,000 per month, something like that and I thought I was crushing it because I am in high school not even working 10 hours per month and I’m like, “This is the real money.”
Little did I know I would be making $25 million a year and that’s how I started and from there it was this kind of luck, the owners son introduced me to companies like Countrywide which no longer exists because Bank Of America bought them out right, Blue Cross is still around and a few others and the next thing you know I was 16, 17 years old and I was generating $20,000 a month in revenue and I was like, “Oh shit I am onto something.”
Justin Verrengia: What is that like being in high school and having that sort of success, what were your friends thinking?
Neil Patel: I wasn’t really spending the money, I was taking the money and reinvesting it into other channels, businesses, etc. and no one actually knew in high school what I was doing. They were thinking okay cool you’re just doing some stuff like you should just go to college and get a job like the rest of us, no one really got what I was doing and I didn’t care to explain.
Justin Verrengia: Super cool and there is a blog post that I read of yours Neil and you mention spending like over $150,000 on high-end clothing to attract high end clients and basically the case study proves successful that you more than recouped what you paid for in clothing. Do you mind sharing more about that case study with us?
Neil Patel: Yes I ended up generating over 600,000 worth of income, I forgot the exact figure from spending like $160,000 or something like that on clothes. What I ended up learning was I would naturally go into meetings and pitch people to work with me, a lot of people would say yes but the majority would say no and over the years I fine tuned the pitch.
I have been using the same pitch for years and I have been doing this for 10, 11 years now. When I started dressing nicer it was just an experiment to see if it would actually help, my pitch stayed the same but people thought because I dress nicer, that I was more successful and they thought if they work with me that some of my success would rub off on them and they would also do better and for that reason more people wanted to work with me and it was kind of funny.
Just like dressing nicer to briefcases, to suits, to shoes, it was like, “Wow this guy must be crushing it” and if he is crushing it we should work with them. So more people were just willing to sign, my pitch stayed the exact same but people really do judge you based on appearances, it sucks but at least it’s the reality from my experiment.
Justin Verrengia: That is super powerful thanks for sharing that with us and what inspired you to do that experimental case study, did you learn from some other marketer who did it or did it just cross your mind if that if I presented myself nicer maybe they will be willing to pay me more?
Neil Patel: I didn’t mention in the blog post that I had to dress nicer to some extent because I do a lot of paid speaking engagements and when you speak to like governments and sometimes like the president of these different countries and stuff like that you have to dress a certain way and there are dress requirements and I normally don’t care what I wear but if someone is paying you the rate and you are making a decent amount of money from the paid speaking gig, you have to abide by their rules especially when it comes to attire and so I do that and I was going to spend the money anyway on clothes because I was making a lot more from speaking so it ended up working out where I started wearing the clothes in business meetings.
Justin Verrengia: That is awesome to turn a lemon into lemonade because you had to dress like this anyways, you might as well make some more money from it.
Neil Patel: Exactly and the clothes people notice, I remember when we were taking pictures, I think you were saying, “Wow this jacket is soft.”
Justin Verrengia: You know those really soft leather jackets, it feels like butter leather. I touched Neils jacket when I put my hands around him for the photo and I am like, “This must be expensive” and you just smirked and said yes it actually is, which is awesome.
What has been your big reason why from the time you were a young entrepreneur, and how has that transitioned over the years, what do you feel your purpose is here on this earth?
Neil Patel: When I started out my entrepreneurial journey, I just wanted to make money and it is transformed in a way now I just want to help other entrepreneurs succeed like that really does make me happy. If you go out there and you take some of my tips and your business grows, I am ecstatic and whether I make money from it or not, I really don’t care, don’t get me wrong I love money but I prefer helping people, when other people succeed it puts a smile on my face.
Justin Verrengia: That is so awesome and it’s really apparent in your charisma and your energy, it’s just the way you carry yourself. I think that it’s a beautiful thing not having expectations but just serving because the Universe is going to reward you like 100 times fold anyway. It’s just the power of law of attraction, helping others and karma and all of that good stuff.
I have a question that I am curious about, do you follow any spiritual traditions or spiritual beliefs?
Neil Patel: I believe in karma we do good and then good things will happen to you and that’s mainly it. I am not really religious or anything like that, I just believe that if I always help people, don’t worry about the benefit to you and whatever happens, happens.
Justin Verrengia: What has been one of your biggest temporary defeats, obviously you have some of the top websites / blogs in the world, you have KISSmetrics, you have a lot of amazing stuff out there, have you had one of those experiences where like everything almost crumbled at one point along your journey, maybe earlier on or maybe something more recent?
Neil Patel: Yes early on I had a lot of times where things just kind of went south for example, the Internet marketing agency that I had it wasn’t doing well, I lost all that money plus more and I lost over $1 million in a cloud computing cloud hosting company back in the day before clouds were even popular, there was no Amazon Web services at this time and the business failed and I lost all the money and it was borrowed money and I couldn’t pay it back, so I just had to work until I could pay it back but there was a few times where I was really thinking about quitting, giving up on entrepreneurship.
Justin Verrengia: And did you have a breakthrough, through that experience?
Neil Patel: No I didn’t have a breakthrough actually I just stuck at what I know, I’m too young to get a job and I was going to high school and I am going to leave college and pay it off and I was going to just keep doing this and focus and as I was starting to focus on Internet marketing and just doing that as a service provider.
I’m like if you focus you typically can do really better or a lot better in one business versus if you spread yourself thin and I am like it is better as an entrepreneur you can make way more money from a financial perspective and assuming you can focus your energy on the right thing.
Justin Verrengia: Makes total sense and what is the vision of Neil Patel look like for the future, where do you go from here if you are able to paint your perfect picture throughout the next few years?
Neil Patel: I want to speak a lot more and help more entrepreneurs and that is it. That is all I really care about.
Justin Verrengia: Awesome, what is some entrepreneurial advice you could offer to the listeners?
Neil Patel: There are a few things, one as I mentioned focus, there’s not enough time in the day for only one business, it’s more than a 40 hour a week job so don’t try to do two or three at the same time. Number two you’re going to make mistakes, everyone does even Facebook, yes their multi-billion dollar company but people have mistakes and failures, they tried to create a Snapchat competitor, etc. a lot of it didn’t work out, doesn’t mean Facebook will not succeed it’s just like people make mistakes and failures happen, if you can learn from them though and avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again you will increase your odds of succeeding.
In a sense all I’m getting at is make mistakes, learn from it and never repeat it again.
The third one will be as it happenes to be mistake oriented as well, there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there from decades ago for example, the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, all the these types of people, etc. and the business concepts back then are still very similar to the concepts we have today. Those guys had a lot of different strategies, they also made mistakes, and they learned a lot reading the biographies, learning from them is also a great way to avoid new mistakes as a new entrepreneur that you may end up making.
Justin Verrengia: Neil, some of these questions I am going to be asking, I actually did a Facebook post and I just said if you could ask Neil any question in the world what would it be and these are some of those questions which I think are really good. I had to do less preparation because so many people had so many good questions and so I’m like “YESSSS” LOL.
And one of those questions is Neil who is your top mentor, who is a marketer that you model after?
Neil Patel: There is not really a marketer that I model after, my top mentor is a guy named Andy Liu, he is one of the best deal makers in business that I have ever met.
Justin Verrengia: And when did you first realize you were meant for greatness?
Neil Patel: I don’t know if I was ever meant for greatness, I realize that I can affect people and help others out around four or five years ago when I started getting emails from people saying, “Well your blog has been helpful” or “You changed my business” or “Because of you I doubled my revenue” and I was like cool I can help people.
Justin Verrengia: Simple and plain man awesome! So your main mission in life is helping other marketers and entrepreneurs become successful and just keeping it simple?
Neil Patel: Exactly!
Justin Verrengia: Can you share what the vision of Internet marketing/blogging looks like for the next 5 to 10 years, do you see any major transitions happening?
Neil Patel: Yes I see it becoming much more personalized, the content you’re going to see is going to be based off segmented lists, segmented blogs in which if you are a once a week reader you will see a post once a week, when you log into our blog or when you visit a blog it will be like “Welcome Justin”, or “Welcome Neil” and it will show you the recent blogs that you haven’t read. I would say in the next year or two it will start to happen, it will be much more tailored towards the visitor.
Justin Verrengia: Very interesting and would you see social media doing the same thing?
Neil Patel: Yes I think social media is already there, I see them doing it with the algorithms, I don’t know what is going to happen next to the social landscape but I do see them trying to become more personalized to the fact that makes their network more sticky and causes you to come back and make more ad revenue.
Justin Verrengia: What do you see for the future of video marketing? I speak to a lot of Facebook marketers, I do Facebook as well and I know you have a lot of insight and I’m curious to what is your perspective on video for the future of Facebook and blogging in general?
Neil Patel: I think video is powerful, it is a way to connect with people, get your message across and it typically increases conversions from what I have seen, that is if I assume you create a good video script.
Justin Verrengia: How often do you use videos to build your business or is everything you do just in the flesh like speaking and making deals as you say?
Neil Patel: Yes most things are in the flesh like speaking, making deals in person stuff versus recorded.
Justin Verrengia: Right on and do you mind sharing a recent awesome deal you have made, something that you are very proud of?
Neil Patel: Let’s see I don’t know if it is recent, I would say the last good deal that I ended up making were I bought a company for less than X profit and I was able to sell it for like eight, nine times more money within like 90 days.
Justin Verrengia: That is a nice investment, would you consider yourself an investor? Are you currently looking for the next thing that you can turn around and flip a profit with?
Neil Patel: Always, I love doing that it’s like an adrenaline rush for me.
Justin Verrengia: And what is one book that you have read more than once that has helped you tremendously along your journey?
Neil Patel: How to build friends and influence others, I think that is the title, I read that years and years ago.
Justin Verrengia: Is it How To Win Friends And Influence People?
Neil Patel: There you go, you got it. I’m still bad at book titles.
Justin Verrengia: One of the takeaways I got from that book that is always in my heart and my core is “If you can help somebody get what they want you will basically and automatically get what you want.” and so now I’m like “How can I help others” it’s a brilliant book thank you.
What is a quote or a phrase that has helped you stay focused enough to help you achieve your current status?
Neil Patel: Can you repeat the question?
Justin Verrengia: What is a quote or a phrase maybe a mantra for life that you have used to help stay focus to achieve your current status?
Neil Patel: There is a quote by Christopher Reese and it goes something like…
“Be careful who you talk to and how you talk to them because the person you could be talking down to today, could be the person that you have to kiss their (you know what) tomorrow.”
So something like that, it’s much more smoother but the whole concept of this quote is, you don’t know where people are going in life so you should be kind to everyone, it should not be based on who they are or what they do or anything like that because the next thing you know they could be your boss or they could be the person you are trying to do a deal with. So if you are mean and rude to people and you are talking down to them, it’s going to hurt you.
Justin Verrengia: Great point and never think of doing that on social media, you don’t know how often I log on to Facebook and see people talking down upon other people and I’m just like, what are people going to think about you because if you’re going to talk negative about someone publicly obviously it doesn’t make you look any better, you know what I mean so it is quite great advice.
Neil what are your thoughts on CISPA 2015, it is the infamous cyber security bill which may be headed back to the Congress this year.
Neil Patel: I have no clue what the bill is even about.
Justin Verrengia: Me neither but I had to ask you.
My next question is about your KISSmetrics, whihc is obviously an analytical tool for tracking conversions and traffic on your website, how does it compare to just using regular Google Analytics?
Neil Patel: Google Analytics is great and I would recommend that everyone uses it, KISSmetrics is for businesses and it helps them do things like maximize their lifetime value per customer, improve conversion rate, it focuses on how to actually get a customer to convert and how do you keep them.
Justin Verrengia: Right on and super powerful, how long have you had that business now?
Neil Patel: Over five years I am guessing.
Justin Verrengia: Very cool actually I just signed up for it today, I just have to copy paste the code to my blog and I’m looking forward to using it so thank you.
What are your top three tips for getting and you will be surprised at how many traffic questions we get because we all know 95% of entrepreneurs with a business they struggle with marketing and lead generation and traffic in general…
What are your top 3 tips for getting 1,000 visitors per day?
Neil Patel: There is a few and one is when you link out to people within your blog posts just email them and let them know, “Hey Justin I just want to let you know I’m a huge fan of yours and we are counting your information as so great that I even sent you a link to my greatest blog posts, it would be an honor if you can check it out and read it thanks, Neil. PS, sharing it would make my year.” That is one tactic and it works well especially for someone like me who links out to over 20 websites for one blog post.
The next tactic is blogging so I would just go out there and find all the people who are contributors on Forbes, Entrepreneurs or any other sites that you might ended up blogging on and get to know them and give them feedback like, “Your article is great, what have you ever thought about X, Y and Z”.
So you got to strike up conversations like that and then eventually, you get to know them for like three weeks, maybe a month and you can be like, “Hey Justin a quick question for you, your information is creating a level at what you are doing at Forbes, I also want to follow in your footsteps, you’re one of my top role models and I want to be like you” anyway you can do an introduction to the editor at Forbes and if you ship over an email like that, there is a good chance that they pursue your email introduction and the Forbes editor gets the introduction from another contributor there is a high chance that they will accept you.
Justin Verrengia: Powerful and how do you just suggest finding their email address? Like search on their website or you do a reverse lookup and search whois or something like that?
Neil Patel: Yes look at the website search actually on those sites there are some websites so you can try out, all that kind of stuff.
The other thing would be if you could end up finding all the people that used to link to your competitors but don’t you can actually hit them up, it’s like broken link checkers, just Google “broken link checkers” and you will find a lot of tools, you can put in competing URLs and keywords and you can actually get those people to replace links with the relevant web pages like on your site. “Hey Justin I know you are linking to X, Y and Z page or website from your blog that site no longer exists, if you want you can actually replace the link with this one that is relevant and if you do end up replacing the links it is a great way to drive more traffic.”
Justin Verrengia: Nice, I appreciate those tip and Neil what are some of your favorite WordPress plug-ins that you are currently using now on your blog?
Neil Patel: Popularity Contest although it is not supported anymore, it helps organize all of my favorite hits, my most current most popular posts all time etc. and I put that in the sidebar and it works extremely well. I also like using Subscribe to Comments, it’s a plug-in where people click a check box and you are notified by email every time there is more comments on your blog, it helps increase comments. The SEO plug-in by Yoast is great it helps optimize your blog for the search engine and those are three plug-ins that are worth checking out.
Justin Verrengia: My next question for you, why do you prefer or if you do prefer I believe you have WordPress commenting on your blog do you prefer that over Facebook commenting or is there a difference, is it better to use one over the other?
Neil Patel: The reason I don’t like Facebook comments is because those comments are not indexed by Google which doesn’t help with search traffic so I just use WordPress comments, not Facebook comments.
Justin Verrengia: What are the most important steps for busy parents and executives to get the most leads and conversions daily from their blogs and websites with the limited time?
Neil Patel: Make sure other than writing good content, make sure you are collecting leads with opt-in forms. I send them to landing pages, you can put it in your sidebar, and you can use tools like Hello Bar in specific places. You can collect leads like email leads and then drip them and then convince them to buy product or service, don’t forget their call to action type of stuff and conversion types of tools that can help you convert visitors into buyers.
Justin Verrengia: And how often do you recommend emailing a list?
Neil Patel: At least once a week keeps them active, if you email them to often your list is going to get burned but once – three times a week is what I found to be the ideal amount.
Justin Verrengia: And what is your sweet spot for how any blog posts that you release in a week?
Neil Patel: The more the better, I can’t release that many, I try to write 2 to 3 sometimes 4.
Justin Verrengia: And something that you mentioned at the training in Vegas, you talked about blog post with over 2,000 words get picked up better with Google and it is more engaging for the audience. Some of the questions I was getting is, “How in the world do you come up with 2,000 word blog posts?”
Neil Patel: Typically to start writing on a topic of 2,000 words is pretty hard, but you can have 1,500, you can have 1,000 but you just don’t want to be at 500.
Justin Verrengia: Do you feel that a blog post with 500 words would be penalized or that it just wouldn’t rank the same in the search engine as if you had 1,000 words?
Neil Patel: Wouldn’t rank the same, that’s what I seen.
Justin Verrengia: And who many years have you been blogging now?
Neil Patel: A long time, I have done blogging seven years is my guess.
Justin Verrengia: And how many blogs do you have out there that you have created?
Neil Patel: That are still up and running?
Justin Verrengia: Yes you can give me both numbers, if you happen to know, I’m sure you have quite a few.
Justin Verrengia: Is there a reason that you don’t have it anymore?
Neil Patel: I just hated blogging on it, I was only blogging to generate traffic and revenue, I wasn’t passionate about the topic.
Justin Verrengia: So you just let it go and started focusing on your other ones?
Neil Patel: Exactly.
Justin Verrengia: What was the next one?
Neil Patel: It was Quick Sprout, and Kiss Metrics, then Crazy Egg and Neil Patel is only like 3 or 4 months old.
Justin Verrengia: What made you decide to do that, just to brand your self?
Neil Patel: Yes if something happen to Quick Sprout or if I sell it or something at least I have a blog that I still own with an audience. I started in September of 2014, that was my first month I wrote one blog post and that month got 15,000 visitors.
Justin Verrengia: That is awesome very cool and is there anything else you would like to share with our audience? Also what is the best way for our listeners to connect with you?
Neil Patel: The best way for them to connect with me is just QuickSprout.com, there is a contact page and people can hit me up there.
As for any last tips just keep at it, where most people fail in marketing is that they give up when something doesn’t work. It’s not easy, it’s not going to work right away, it takes time if not months, years for things to start taking off and for traffic to start going up.
Justin Verrengia: Basically have a long-term perspective blogging because it’s not built overnight but with consistency anyone can become a successful blogger, do you believe that?
Neil Patel: I do.
Justin Verrengia: Thank you so much Neil is a true honor having you out today, I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart and I just want to thank all the listeners for tuning in, looking forward to seeing you on the next episode.
Love and Light my friends.
>>> Interview ends here <<<
I’m looking forward to reading your comments down below.
If you enjoyed today’s episode, check out our previous episode with Avram Gonzales: TEDx InspirACTION