005 Biz Spotlight exchange blog e-Dublin with Edu Giansante
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Paige: Hi, ladies. Welcome to Episode Number five. Today I'm really excited to welcome you to one of our online business spotlight episodes. So one of my goals with this podcast was to show how unbelievably possible it is to turn pretty much anything into an online business these days. There are so many times when people say to me, "Oh, I have this hobby or this interest, but I'm probably the only one interested. There's no one else that's going to need this knowledge or skills. It's not possible to turn this into a revenue-generating business." And I'm just like, "Mm-hmm (negative), that is not true, my friend."
Paige: So, today I want to introduce you to Ed. Ed runs the exchange blog turned business E-Dublin. Ed is a Brazilian who moved to Ireland. Do, what was his topic of expertise? He was an expert on what it was like to be a Brazilian who moved to Ireland. So, if you have some sort of travel interest or you moved abroad before, know that that is expertise which other people would really love to learn from you about. So I encourage you to keep an open mind as you listen to this episode to hear how Ed turned a pretty random wealth of knowledge on a specific topic into a very successful business, now before we get into the interview there's one thing I want you to hear first.
Paige: So, you know you want to run an online business which allows you a lifestyle of complete freedom but you're stuck figuring out which online business idea would actually work for you. Not to worry my Online Business Matchmaker training is just for you. Think of the training like a cocktail, we're going to mix together the passions and talents that you already have, your dreamy ideal customer and successfully proven online business revenue models. Get immediate access to the totally free 30 minute video training and accompanying workbook at paigebrunton.com/matchmaker. Again that's paigebrunton.com/matchmaker.
Paige: Ed welcome to the show I am so exited to have you.
Edu: Thank you Paige. Thanks for having me.
Paige: Absolutely. So, Ed you run a pretty different business. You help Brazilians move to Ireland. Can you explain how that all started and how did you know this was needed, and what was happening in your life that led you to create this business?
Edu: Sure. Yeah, I know it may sound very unique when you say helping Brazilians move to Ireland. Because first question that comes to mind is are there any Brazilians in Ireland right now? The answer is yes, and the second thing is Brazilians are the largest known European nationality living in Ireland at this moment. Which is insane… it's a lot of people.
+ full transcript
Edu: So, how did it start? Back in 2007 I was working for an advertising agency and I didn't have any English. My English was actually pretty poor, and I realized I had to learn English otherwise I wouldn't really move forward with my career, or anything like that. Then I start to research and found that maybe moving abroad would be the best way for me to learn and learn faster and through maybe some a more kind of immersive experience. Then, during my research, I did some research in Canada, United States, England and then Australia. All of them had a lot of pros, but some of the cons that would be crucial to me. One of them would be you could not work while you were studying and that was a big block for me because I didn't have the money to go and just pay for my studies with no work.
Edu: Then someone mentioned Ireland, someone said like. "Hey, have you thought about Ireland?" I was like, "What? Where is Ireland?" It's somewhere in Europe and that's as much information as I had access to at that point in time. So, what I did is I started to look up online, Ireland... Let me remind you again that's 2008, that's before Facebook, that's before YouTube, Instagram, anything like... So, there was no page, no ad, no one producing any content online. So, I was looking up online and there was no information in Portuguese about Ireland. So, I was like, "Oh, there may be something here."
Edu: So I started to, as I was doing my research, just get that content uploaded into a blog. Because, and remember again 2008, back in the days we're calling everything online with like letter E, in front of the actual thing. So like e-mail, E for electronic. So I had my E-Dublin which was-
Paige: So that's why? That's so funny I had no idea.
Edu: Yeah. So I literally said, "Okay because it's going to be electronic on a blog on a blog spot platform let's do it." Then I start to upload, as I was finding out information and just create this information about Ireland. I didn't really think much about like are there going to be other Brazilians. It was more for me to have a catalog of information and maybe just have my experiences stored somewhere.
Edu: So, as I was finding about Ireland I was putting it up there, and then in 2008 I finally had enough money that I was saving to then come and move to Ireland. So up to that point it wasn't a business, it was purely a bunch of content written and saved online. No prospect on monetization whatsoever. And I think when you said when did you find this was a need, I think I was the actual need. I was looking for the information and I couldn't find it. So I started to produce it, and that's kind of how it started.
Paige: So good. So I didn't know that, I assumed that you, like, got to Ireland kind of knew what you were doing and then you started like producing the content. But it actually was like literally you were just like I'm just figuring it out.
Edu: Exactly, yeah. I think one of the things we learn when we're building something new is that we should be solving a problem, and I think I was solving my own problem at that time. Something that I was actually facing myself and that's kind of how it started. It was purely myself, "Okay where is this information? There's nothing about Ireland in Portuguese." And that's literally how it started like the bare bones at the beginning.
Paige: But I mean if you have a problem then probably so many other people have that same issue. So, I mean clearly if you have an issue you know it's a real problem that you can solve. I mean, I guess even at the time you weren't really thinking like going to build a business out of it but-
Edu: At all no, not at all. As I said, if I'm struggling here to find information I'm pretty sure there might be other people struggling. At the time I'm not sure if it was big in Germany or in United States or Canada, we had Orkut as a platform for social networking.
Paige: Never heard of it.
Edu: Yeah. So, Orkut is one of employee from Google who was actually called Orkut, and he started this platform for... I think it was a test or something like that and then it got super viral in Brazil. It became a big platform for just a community like you would have Facebook groups nowadays. That was Orkut at the time. Or Beeble or things like that. Or, MySpace probably in the United States. So that was our MySpace at the time. Really informal, very bad, and that's how I found out through someone saying about Ireland and I found out there were more people looking for information about Ireland. But that was just as far as I had in terms of information.
Paige: Okay cool. All right so you get to Ireland 2008 and you're like figuring out life I guess. I don't know. learning the language, working or whatever. Were you going to school as well?
Edu: Yeah. I was going to school to learn English and also I found a job in an advertising agency. Kind of like an intern style, very low profile part-time job, but that was my way in through work abroad.
Paige: Okay cool, and like walk us through the next couple years of E-Dublin. So, it just started as a blog, what happened then? Like you got to Ireland then you just kept creating content I guess, or?
Edu: Yeah. So, I arrived in Ireland in April 2008, and I was producing content way before that because it was kind of like prep work to Ireland. Then, as I moved in it started to become more this is my reality now, this is what I'm living. The content changed a little bit from being a prep work to being more day-to-day, what's my routine like, what are the things that I do here. Maybe something that's curiosity about Ireland that you wouldn't find in Brazil. That kind of basic about that.
Edu: Then, two things happened that made me... One was obviously an amazing thing, which was a newspaper in Brazil a big one, they came and said, "Hey, I see you're living in Ireland, and that seems to be quite unique that you're building this content online. We'd like to interview you for our newspaper." And I was like of course. So I did an interview over the phone, and then that went like... You know you have in the newspapers you have like sections, and there was one for travel. I was like on the front page of the travel page saying Brazilian's helping people move abroad, move to Ireland. I was like whoa that's insane. So, that's kind of like how I got a lot of attention from the media at the time. When I say a lot of attention not necessarily like something would be used to nowadays but back in the days it was quite big.
Edu: Then fast forward about a month later, what happened was I was going to this English school, it doesn't exist anymore this school, they closed down a few years ago. You know when it's raining and it you get that carpet to smell really badly because of the wet. I just said something like, "Oh, this school smells like a wet sock." Obviously it was pretty bad, and it was just me making a joke. Then the director from that school called me and god knows how he found out my number but he called me and said, "Hey, I see that you actually had written about our school saying that we smell like wet sock. A lot of Brazilian students who are canceling their registrations with us and then they're moving into a different school. So you're actually effecting our business you should take that down, otherwise we're going to have to take legal action." I was like, "Whoa, I can take that down that's no problem."
Edu: Then I realized, oh there's something here, people are actually listening to what I'm saying. Then having some sort of influence on that, so that's kind of how the bulb lights kind of went up, and I was like there is a business here.
Paige: Yeah. So you realized that people are taking what I'm saying, and they're actually doing something about it and doing something with it. That's crazy. Okay and then tell me at some point this blog turned into a business. What were those initial offerings, what were the things that you started off by doing to monetize this thing? And how far after it started was that?
Edu: So, that was the first year still, that's 2008. Again, back in 2008 it was much more common to have a text based website then video or photo based. Out of the current other things were up. I was creating a lot of content in text and it wasn't super. "Oh, today it's going to become a business." It wasn't super sharp like that. It was naturally becoming a business because as I said this company, the school called us and said we're making an impact to their business in a negative way. So I was like, well maybe we can make a positive impact to other businesses.
Edu: So the first thing I did is I called the agency that I actually have bought my studies with in Brazil and said, "Hey, do you guys want me to advertise you? Like just say that I came using you guys as an agency and maybe we can make a deal here, you guys can pay us maybe some monthly fee or something like that?" And then he was like, "Yeah, okay let's do that." Then I think was like an equivalent maybe like $50 a month or something super low like that for us to just write it. It was me and then I had a friend who was like let's just about them and say it. Then we're like, yeah sure why not. Then we start to make it like okay we're making some money here maybe we can do that with a different school now or another agency.
Edu: Then that's kind of how things started to grow. But it was very informal still and people were like coming and like, "Can I write content for you?" I was like, "Yeah, of course you can." It was kind of like no due diligence around quality, more like traveler experiences. So it was very informal up to that point. It started to become little bit more serious in 2009 when we actually had okay now there's a company who wants to do an actual campaign with us. They actually want to advertise with a proper banner online, banners and imagery. So I was like, there may be something here. So maybe I should actually register this as a business. So I registered in Brazil as a business and that's kind of how I officially call it, okay we became a business not just a personal blog.
Paige: Amazing, so good. And then have you ever offered anything like specifically... Well I think you do now, you offer things to Brazilians to help them move. So, at first it was like sort of advertisers or advertising these different language schools or whatever it is. At what point... What did you ever create that was for sort of like people, do you offer one-on-one services to help them relocate, or you have a conference I think now?
Edu: Yeah. So, that's very fast forwarding to a few years. Back at that time it was... So we always had meetups, and meetups were very informal and free. People could just go in and catch up. The first meetup we did actually were not... because that was in Brazil and I was living in Ireland. So, and when I say we it's like this group of people writing content, they were just feel they were part of a bigger thing. It wasn't necessarily they were not hired as employees or anything they were just creating content because they wanted to.
Edu: Then it start to become this thing where people would just naturally do their meetups and call it like E-Dublin meetups, and every single month. Then they just took over kind of the name to create a meetup for people moving to Ireland. So, I think it's when we feel like there's a community being built around that, it was no longer something that Ed was creating or something I was writing myself. I think that's probably the most powerful thing you can get out of a business is when it starts to create this critical mass and runs by itself and you're just one piece of the whole puzzle, you're not necessarily the owner of the lead of that.
Edu: And I start to feel like now we have something here that people are consuming, maybe there is something we can do for them. It took several years for me to actually start to think about something I could charge as business to customers. It was always thinking about the businesses, because they're the ones I felt well, they are the ones that have the money to pay, are interest in targeting that audience. If you think about Facebook, if you think about Spotify, if you think about all these businesses, you actually consume their product for free. Whoever pays the bills is the business not the user. So I kind of had that feeling as well and did the same thing myself.
Paige: That makes sense that's really good. And I guess you knew as someone who was just moving there like I don't have a ton of money so I mean yeah.
Edu: Yeah and students are usually on a budget so you can't really charge them money, offering them something.
Paige: Yeah, really smart I mean that's great. Okay so can you explain what were those, like, early few years that you were running this. You had like a full-time job for a long time, you were in school for part of it, what did your day-to-day life look like of actually running this blog?
Edu: It started to go insane because back in 2010 I found a job, a really good job at Zynga, a gaming company. I was leading a team there. So my day job started to get really busy with activities. Then at night I had to write content, I had to think out what to do with E-Dublin. Kind of think E-Dublin as a business not just creating the content, put a little bit more planning behind it. So those were days where I actually had really few nights of sleep or no weekends and I think it's when you see a lot of quotes online where people say, "While I'm dreaming someone else is actually doing it, making it happen." And I was making it happen.
Edu: I was sitting down, not going out, staying in the room, locked there, typing, writing content, creating stuff, thinking about the new next big thing. So it was hard because you get to a point where because you're living abroad, when you live abroad you know that you kind of miss your friends, you miss going out, you miss doing things that you may feel like it's very common for other people. And if you put on top of that the fact that you're actually just busy working and you have less time than everyone else, and no one else is actually... They're like why are you doing this? Just stop doing it, like that's not making you any money. And it wasn't making money that would pay anyone's full-time salary. It was literally like a few bucks here and there per month it wasn't like anything meaningful. But I just felt like I was creating something much more meaningful than the actual money and I think that's what kept me going on that.
Paige: That's amazing. I mean what you've built now is unbelievable. So, now E-Dublin is the go to information for Brazilians moving to Ireland. You have a huge significant social media following, for serving such a small niche audience, almost 850,000 followers across all your social platforms. Your website has millions of page views every year. E-Dublin was voted the best exchange blog four times and you have 11 team members and you also have your own conference so you built something pretty big out of this.
Edu: Thank you. It does keep me busy now.
Paige: That's amazing.
Edu: There is one, I just think it's just worth calling out, it took me a while to quit everything I was doing. Actually, in fact it was earlier this year where I quit Dropbox to go full-time on E-Dublin. And to be very honest I'm not even full-time on E-Dublin because I'm having so many side gigs that I'm doing I'm still not full-time on it. But there's a book that you might know, it's called Originals: How Non-Conformists Changed the World. It's a super good book if someone hasn't read this book yet I recommend you reading it. There's so much they tell you about this book, but one of the key things to me is this mention that you shouldn't just quit everything and go all in in your business just because you believe in it. And I think that's one thing that I have in myself is I believe so much in E-Dublin but it doesn't mean that because I believe in it I only believe in E-Dublin I should go all in for it.
Edu: I believe in several things and I believe several things could go well. Having this side job or having your stable job sometimes may keep you sane when you're building something. Because if you're building something with the pressure of this is what's going to pay my next bill, or my next rent, there's a social pressure. There's an actual pressure emotionally on you to make it happen and you can become more vulnerable around losing who you are, losing little bit about your own personality for the sake of, oh I have to pay the rent." So having a stable business or having something stable on the side sometimes will be this kind of pillar that will keep you sane or thinking throughout all this work that you have to do and not necessarily go nuts or feel like okay now I have to just open up commercially to whatever.
Paige: I mean it also helps then you don't maybe... I think sometimes people start a business right away they kind of do some sketchy things they wish they didn't or whatever just in the name of making money and if you have a full-time job, I mean you had jobs at really cool companies, you worked at Dropbox that's amazing. So, to have that pressure I guess.
Edu: Exactly, plus all the money we're making on E-Dublin I could just return back to E-Dublin, I wasn't taking money as a salary because I didn't need to. Which means I could reinvest in the company all the time and I think that's what helped a lot build up new areas and kind of expand from where we were in terms of just being a blog, to then becoming a company production. A company where we would produce events and so on.
Edu: The event is an example of where I had to put a lot of money as an investor, let's say, because I had to use that money coming from somewhere to make it happen. And then once I happen, okay, now it's a proven business that can expand and make this an actual profitable part of the business. So diversify and all of that is part of the business. If you don't have the safe zone it's always going to be risky like should I do it should I not? So it's a really good way for you to keep sane, keep yourself emotionally stable and that too.
Paige: Really good. So how did it feel once you did go... Well, I guess you said you aren't fully full-time, but how did it kind of feel to be like I literally created my own job?
Edu: Right, yeah. I think the one thing that really gets me, even if you think a few years ago, but up to now, there are people who depend on me now because they're being paid a salary to build E-Dublin and to work on E-Dublin. So it's quite insane to think, I think even more than I built my own thing I'm my own boss, it's like there are people employed by me. There are people who depend on me to survive, to pay their bills. So that's quite insane and it was a little bit of a pressure like we need to keep growing, keep building. I think it's a good pressure, not a pressure as I said before to like take too many risks but more like we need to keep innovating, keep building new things, and diversify. Because it's very easy nowadays to have people catch up with you on things you're doing especially online.
Edu: I mean if you think about perception, someone may be seeing what you're doing, like website build up and your courses and they're like, "Oh I can do that." And they will copycat you and for someone who doesn't know much about that they're like, "Oh they're both the same but one is half the price why should I go for Paige?" Until they find out and figure who you are and your credibility.
Paige: Have other people tried to do something similar or like kind of copy cat your business, or?
Edu: I think that's very common is that everybody became an influencer in a way, right. Everyone's creating their own Instagram page or stories or their own blogs. So it's getting harder to be different in that arena when you talk about just Brazilians moving abroad. As much as it sounds like a niche, whoever is coming here they're like creating their own channels and you're like how do I make myself different from that.
Edu: I will give you some spoilers here. But, I think the main difference and I think that you know that yourself is building up your credibility and authority around your domain area. Whatever you know and you know you're good at, people will find difference. There will be a lot of, "Okay this is an amateur job, this is a professional job." And I think it can be seen different ways, not only the actual deliverables but how the process of the deliverable is done.
Paige: Yeah absolutely, so good. Okay, so clearly you grew the business quite a bit from the humble beginnings. Let's talk about content first. So when it came to growing the business in terms of content what was it that you did that grew the business from just a few page views or whatever or just a very small social media following to what you do now? What would you say was it that you did which grew that?
Edu: That's a really good question. I think one of the things I realized, especially when you talk about okay moving abroad and I was sharing my own experiences, I realized that I was attracting my own personality. My own kind of perception of things as a content. Then soon enough, people start to realize okay but this is not my reality, this is not how I see things, or you are not a female so this is different for you. Like a female traveling alone abroad is very different from the male, or a black guy. There's always this different perspective but also social, someone coming here as a couple or with kids, several different perspectives that will change how things are, how you're experience abroad is actually lived.
Edu: I was like okay maybe I should diversify and get more people to write content and just share. That's kind of how I think the community aspect started where I just opened up to anyone to share their own perspective. People could just go and talk about their own ways of doing things. I think that naturally created this portfolio of living abroad, not necessarily being a Brazilian male from Sao Paulo in Ireland. It's like okay anyone from Brazil, from different ages and different genders coming in and living and what's different? What changes? What are the common things? What are things we always struggle with? I think that creates this... You understand much more about what's happening.
Edu: Then you find out, I think, throughout that and throughout the years of the experience there's an evergreen type of content which is content everyone will look for, and everyone will be okay this is my own boarding guide. This is my struggling to get a visa guide or whatever. So you always find an evergreen content and I think that's also how you create a strategy around building up for SEO on that and then the other things create more of this community aspect. So you combine both and that's how you can achieve, to create this valuable content for people.
Paige: So good, interesting, so evergreen content. So you thought about the things that were important to anyone who is moving abroad. That's really good, awesome. Good. And then how did your business offerings evolve over time? So it started with sort of like this original sponsored content or banner ads or whatever, but what are the offerings the business has now?
Edu: The core business for us is still lead generation. That started from those small companies we were doing for agencies in Brazil. But right now when you create content if you think about inbound marketing it's usually creating content to generate a lead and then you warm up that lead through nurturing campaigns. Then once that lead is warmed up that's when you pass that lead to a sales team. So that's the structure of inbound marketing nowadays. So that's exactly what we do but we perform as a marketing business or a marketing operation for agencies or for schools, or universities.
Edu: So what does that mean in practice is university does not have the time or the willpower or even the interest to build up on that community that still very cold. Then we'll build up and nurture them around what's the importance of studying there, or what's the importance of concentrating your further education and so on. And once they're warmed up and they're ready to buy that's what we call the SQL the sales qualified lead. That's when we sell them the lead, and it's a lead that instead of buying it from Facebook that will cost you like 50 cents you pay five euro but then it's a much more valuable lead because the likelihood of converting is much higher.
Paige: Crazy. I had no idea that was your business, that's so cool.
Edu: Yeah so that's the core of the business. We do other things like banners, we do paid campaigns, we do video production, brunt content. But these are all around a lead generation, I think lead generation was the core of the business because where you can prove sales. You can make them buy.
Paige: Interesting. You cut off a little but for me in there but I think, let me just clarify. So you get these leads, you're warming them up and then I guess are you, you're collecting information on them so you know like to send them, to sell them to like a university or to something else or?
Edu: Yeah. Let me give an example. So let's say someone from Canada decides to move to Germany. But they really know just the basics of what are the visas I need, what are the best neighborhoods to live. Very simple things, but then you're like okay now that I decided to come here I need to learn German. So where am I going to study? What are the best universities, best German schools? You're going to do some research, maybe you find some information that may come from your website. Then what you do is you will then work on that nurturing or creating additional content for them to get them ready to understand what are the differences and what are nuances of each of the schools.
Edu: Once they get to a point where they're like I know enough about them to make a decision that's when we call, like, okay you're warmed up. That's through a lot of content generation. Then we have systems in place that will kind of qualify and give them scores. So, the more you read about certain things the more points you get and once you reach certain points you come to a threshold that would qualify you. So, we call you opportunity. So, once you're an opportunity we move you into that queue that will be pass that school or that agency. So it's segmented, which means if you are deciding to move into Berlin, a school that's based in Munich is not going to receive that lead, right. So we obviously make that smart decision as well so it goes to the right school at the right time as well.
Paige: And so what is the tech that you're using to track all that?
Edu: So it's a company in Brazil but they're very similar to HubSpot. I think HubSpot is a tool that it's quite expensive for bloggers if you're going to just start using it. I think it's around $600 per month. But I think once you get... So that's why, I mean we're no longer a blog so actually this is a business and I think there's a real value behind it. So once you start doing it it's more about the value you can get out of that. You could try and build it yourself but it's just so much work to do at scale, and having a tool like that will help you a lot.
Edu: So it's essentially a blog that connects you to something like HubSpot where you would create flows of content and certain triggers for this flows. So, I don't want to get to techy. But, essentially it means you read content A, we'll give you content A1 next. Then if you read email B you're going to trigger email B1 next. Kind of create like this leading and the tracks for you to kind of keep going on a content. I think a lot of people see that now they just don't know that this is actually automated. It's when you actually read a content and then a week later receive a content that's kind of complementary to that, like, "Oh hey Paige it looks like you're navigating on our page, and you just quit in the shopping cart. Are you interested in this?" And this is part of that. A piece on that so it's all of that work that we do.
Paige: Interesting. And so then, I mean, I guess when you were deciding like okay how do I monetize this business, you decided on lead generation. How did you decide that that was the right offering, were there any other potential options that you were thinking about?
Edu: You know how it started it was just because it was the easiest one. As much as it doesn't sound it's the easiest one. I'll tell you why. When we started I didn't have a system like that in place, of course. So it was literally someone filling out a form, like a contact seven form, very standard plugin for WordPress. Then as they would fill out I would just send that information from that form, which forward that email to an agency or to a school. So it was very ad hoc. They would pay me for that email forward. And why that's because if I was to give them something like, "Hey, I want you to sell and then whatever you sell we're going to get a commission." I would have to trust them and trust their system to give me a return like, "Oh, we sold this guy or we didn't sell them." If you multiply that by 100 schools or 100 contacts per week it just becomes unmanageable. So it would be impossible for us to manage so what I did was I'll forward you emails and then you pay me as I forward you the emails.
Edu: They pay me like nothing, they pay me like a euro or 50 cents that's it.
Paige: How did you know what was normal pricing for that? Did you research online or how did you know what to charge?
Edu: No, I still think I charge very little but that's... No, I had no idea I just said, "Look I'll send you this would you be willing to pay maybe like 50 cents for that?" And they're like, "Yeah, sure." So it started with like very, very cheap prices because we're getting so many queries. It got to a point where it was like 3,000 emails per month or something like that.
Edu: So, I was like well if I charge 50 cents that's like 1,000 bucks right. That's a lot of money. Then you multiply that because once you send that chunk to one school, you can send that same chunk to other schools. Then I start to send that to like five, six schools. So, that's like 5-6,000 a month. I was like well that's good money.
Edu: But then now it's becoming a bit of cannibalization because I'm sending the same contacts to five different schools with no criteria, that doesn't make much sense. That's when I was like okay I need to put some system in place. So it was more like we started with something really ad hoc and very informal and not really knowing if it was a good lead or not. Because was a cold lead, a warm lead to then realize okay there needs to be a little bit more work behind this. Because this is very easy to copy. So how do you make this a little bit more meaningful. So, that's when we moved into systems and scoring that's way forward ahead-
Paige: That's way down the line yes. So someone wants to do this they don't need to start already with like HubSpot or whatever they can do your version about how you started too.
Edu: Yeah exactly, and I think a lot of people do that. You don't need a system, right now there's so many affiliate programs that you can do and that does the job because that will pay you a commission over a link. It could be per click, it can be per conversion, and the system will do that for you. You don't need to do anything. When we started there was no simple thing like an affiliate like that so it was just like the easiest way to do it. If I was to start today I probably would go for an affiliate kind of format and use that as a system, it's much easier to control.
Paige: Yeah, that makes sense, interesting. So I know a lot of people when you say like I run an online business they're like what do you actually do every day? Like what do you mostly work on now?
Edu: Well, to me it's funny because my job now is trying to make myself relevant.
Edu: And I think that's probably should be the mindset for everyone who's leading a job online or leading a business. Because it's easy to get caught into tasks, and tasks are things that once you do it and you know how to do it, you can delegate someone and have someone do it for you. And then you can think about the next big thing.
Edu: So, I'm always trying to find what's the next big thing what's going to keep me relevant in this market? What's going to keep us unique in this market? To do that I need to free up time for day-to-day activities. If you're stuck in the day-to-day you're going to be stuck thinking about that and you're not going to be looking from the 200 feet about you, or having this holistic view. So the more I find that something became the norm, the more I try to hand over to someone or let someone lead that. So, that's kind of where we are now and that's kind of my day-to-day.
Paige: Your day-to-day is actually removing yourself from the day-to-day.
Edu: Right. So, you have to create processes, you have to train people, you have to hire the right people. Like the events we did that's the fourth edition we're going to run. So I actually hired to be an events coordinator and I'm training her around what we need to do. But I still need to be heavily involved in looking for vendors, or other things we need to do. Who are going to speak at the event? What is going to be the pricing model? What's the pricing for the sponsorship? So there's a lot that you have to think about, as much as someone is actually doing the job you always have to think about the actual product that you're selling so that's kind of the core.
Paige: Okay, and then I know you mentioned you had team members and you're handing things off. So, how many team members do you have and what are they mostly, what are they working on?
Edu: So since 2009 I have a content manager, she helps me produce on... Create kind of a content calendar. what needs to go live because since 2009 we have daily content going live on the website. Which is a lot.
Paige: Impressive. Yeah that's a lot.
Edu: So, that was the first person we hired. So she hired a couple of journalists, I think two are full-time and the rest are all freelancers now. She's managing that herself now. I have a video editor, and that started again, I was producing videos, and then I was like it's taking too much time to edit them so I hired someone. I started doing podcasts and I hired a freelancer to actually edit the podcast. So, it kind of starts with a freelancer that if we see that the volume is growing, we hire. We had two commercial people so one is in Brazil she's doing sales for the Brazilian territory and then I just hired someone now to do in Ireland. Again same thing, we try and if we see okay it's working let's get that person full-time. Then someone from finance because finance takes a hell of a lot of time. Oh my god, like doing taxes and returns and all that paying... And we have the two businesses in Ireland and in Brazil so we have to do that twice. Oh my god it's a nightmare.
Edu: I hate that. But like I think the one thing that I would suggest and advise people is just don't go and hire people, because that's a lot of commitment. You can always just start with a freelancer, you can start with someone helping you out maybe for... I mean if it's a real business it can give them share, and then maybe give them like a 5% share, a 10% share and then they'll help you out. Or of it's not at that point yet where you can give shares you can just hire them give them like a commission, or pay them per worked on. Then if you see that there's a value you can then hire the person. But that's how it start and that's kind of how we do things. Like our developer was full-time for a long time and now he's a freelancer because I just thought that was too expensive to keep a developer.
Paige: Makes sense. Good. Okay, so related to we were talking about advice for like similar businesses. So if a listener they've picked up they moved abroad somewhere and they're creating content on their topic, what would your advice be if you could go back to like edit the beginning and be like all right this is what you should do like what would you advise that person to do?
Edu: You mean in terms of content or strategy?
Paige: I guess in terms of like they're already creating content, they've moved abroad, how would you suggest they get into the business side of things? Move that blog into a business?
Edu: So, I think first and foremost is that I think everyone is getting to... I think entrepreneur became like a buzzword now. It's a great thing that people are trying to get businesses and monetize businesses. But sometimes if it's a hobby it's a very different thing. It's a very different approach to things. If you really want to make it a business you have to just put in your mind that this is not going to be as fun as it was when it was a hobby. It becomes responsibility, it becomes consistency, all of that will create this pressure on you in several ways. To be always creative, to be always thinking about something that you write about, something you don't, to podcast about, create your scripts before you talk, and interviewing people, researching on people, there's a lot of work that goes behind the scenes that people don't realize.
Paige: So question if it really should be a business or if you try to keep it as a hobby? Good one.
Edu: Question that for sure and then the second thing would be are you actually solving someones problem because if you're not it's a hobby.
Paige: Yep, that's true. Perfect I love that, that's really good. I agree there's a lot of people who, I don't know, they... Somethings could just be left as hobbies. Because you kind of ruin them for yourself. Like one thing, so we met at a travel blogging conference, I had a travel blog. I like to travel, and then I realized that every single time I took a trip I had to blog about it and it actually kind of took the fun out of travel. A trip suddenly became my job and so that actually wasn't that great.
Edu: Exactly, yeah. Actually this is a really good point. I just got a deal with a travel agency in Brazil to do 12 trips this year. Everyone was like, "Oh my god 12 paid trips this is insane you're... Oh my god, this is like perfect world." But well I'll give you an example, I went to Croatia for two days to do a video about the entire fucking country. Like, every single thing. So I was waking up at 5:00 in the morning spending like 20 minutes at a each attraction spot to record something for the drone. come back keep the drone charging in the car as I was driving down. Then getting more video, more footage, creating a script about what I had to say about that place, going to bed at midnight. Then 4:00 am walking up again to get everything charged. It's not fun, it's not like you, you're doing it for work.
Paige: And especially then the rest of the world also thinks like, "Oh must be so easy." And you're like you don't even know.
Edu: Exactly, yeah. I think that's maybe the joy. I think a good travel blogging or good producer or good entrepreneur is the one who makes it sound very simple, or looks very simple to do. Because they just don't expose that effort that they're making by looking tired or sweaty or just make it look natural. I think that's a... I mean fair play to people who do that and make it look very nice and very natural. But still there's a lot of work behind the scene that we know that happens. So I think that's what makes people feel like oh it's easy to do that but it's not.
Paige: Yep that makes sense. Really good. Okay, so I want to talk a bit more about content marketing. Is it correct YouTube tends to be your big focus?
Edu: Yeah I think YouTube is what takes most of my time now actually. If you think about content production yes.
Paige: Yeah, okay. I mean your YouTube videos, your videos in general, Instagram, YouTube, everything just absolute unbelievable. I think you have a 360 camera, you have a drone, you also just clearly have skills, and have a fabulous personality for it. So, can you take us a little behind the scenes like what is your YouTube game plan in terms of deciding on topics and actually creating the content and deciding, I don't know, all the things related to YouTube? What do you, what is your plan really to YouTube?
Edu: I'll tell you what it was and what it is now because it changed a lot. I think back when I was starting YouTube what I was doing is looking at what I had as a content on my blog, and then okay what's the most popular content here and then I'm going to create a video about that. Because that feels like the natural thing to do. But there are things that are not meant to be videos and they're just not as fun to do as you would do something else. It's boring as hell to talk about visas in a video. Like you don't have to be talking about visas. Plus no one is going to remember what you're saying because it's just too hard. They're like what are you saying? I have to take notes here. Like what's B1 what's L1, what's this? It doesn't make sense, and as much as we want to mention that it shouldn't be a type of video. That's my own perspective on that. I wouldn't watch a video about how visas work because that's way too complicated.
Edu: Where if it's more about opinions, more about your perspectives, or more about something that needs to be visual to build up on that then it makes sense to create a video. So, I always think... And that's why I'm telling you that I changed the strategy, where it was coming from this top popular content, to more like what are things that I feel like talking about. They might not necessarily relate to living abroad or living in Ireland or being Brazilian. So, I'm talking about Brexit now and I know it's going to effect us indirectly. So I feel like I want to share my opinion, and it feels much more natural to opinionate about it in a video than creating it in an article, because an article feels like it's going to be a little bit more, I don't know if serious is the word.
Paige: Yeah, I think serious. I agree.
Edu: It will feel like it's more formal. Right?
Edu: So, if a video feels like it's your opinion, you're sharing what you think about it and I'm doing that much more often. Sometimes talking about routines, things that I've changed, things that changed in my life since I moved abroad. But it's not necessarily because I'm Brazilian or not necessarily because it's in Ireland. It's just because you move abroad and your life changes. And you get to find about different culture and give. Things that you were taking for granted you don't take for granted anymore. That feels like it's a much more natural way to build videos and that kind of has been my strategy, let's say, like in the last two years or more. It's just like what am I now? What am I doing now? What are my values now? And just exposing that more than just having a very formal video.
Paige: I also, I can't force myself to do stuff that I don't like anymore. Like people want certain content from me and I'm like, "No I can't do it. Like I just can't make myself." So I'm also just more and more just like this is what I feel like writing about so that's what I'm going to do, I hope you like it.
Edu: Exactly, and I think that's one thing, as you do your passion because it's something that you truly like, people will follow they will... Like you may change your audience. And I'm seeing my audience change a lot because I evolved. I'm no longer a student of English in Ireland. This is not my life anymore so I can't be talking about studies in Ireland. There's people writing on E-Dublin about it, but if I'm doing a video it's not going to be about studies abroad. That's not what I do anymore.
Edu: So I think there's a natural shift and maturity that you gain. Then your content will change and then your audience will change as well. It's just natural, everyone has that.
Paige: Yep that's amazing. So, yeah, this actually relates to my next question. So, yeah, the content that you create now ranges from practical and useful to really funny and random like food tastings or Brexit or international relationships. So, you're basically just producing content that you just, you were like this sounds fun I'm just going to make this.
Edu: Yeah. I try, obviously, like I'm not going to create something that's very, very different from this lifestyle of being abroad or having different cultures. I think food tasting with foreigners is related to the cultural side of things. How they perceive our food and so on. And that's fun as well. But it's also, as you said, it's more like what are things that are feeling more natural to me and that I feel more gravitated towards then just building content for the others. I think as I build content that I feel passionate about people will naturally go in and they'll feel that passion for you in a video.
Paige: Then, so YouTube has a really specific type of content that tends to do well. So like quirky, funny, entertaining type stuff. Do you think any business can use YouTube successfully? Are there certain types of businesses or personalities that lend themselves really well to YouTube?
Edu: I think they all can. I think it's... there's another book that I would like to recommend people. It's the Blue Ocean Strategy. I think that Blue Ocean Strategy could be applied anywhere. When you think about businesses I think people, they get really stuck to the actual core of the business. So if you're a law firm, I mean oh my god what is a law firm? What am I going to do here that would be entertaining to people? There's so much that you can talk about. You could be talking about Brexit like what are the implications in legislation from Brexit? And you still talk about Brexit from your own perspective. Or you can be talking about several other things, you can talk about okay how does legislation apply to having a football player from Brazil move to play in England? What are the implications? What changes? And you could create something really creative which is around that topic but not necessarily about your business.
Edu: I think people just need to be a little bit more, think a little bit more out of the box and think about what are the things that relate to my business. Not necessarily directly. I think fitness has been really successful on that. You should think about any company that sells nutritional food or a gym they will create content about fitness or about being healthier. That has been like becoming an evergreen because everyone wants to become healthier now. Bit there's so much about everything that people can just start doing. Give you example right, you're not producing a content about how to use square or-
Paige: Squarespace yeah, it's true. Edu: That works.
Paige: Good, yeah I agree. Lawyers I mean lawyers man, I mean that would be useful information. Like lawyers talking about how Brexit affects people. I mean, no one is putting that content out and so it seems like certain industries you could actually do really, really well just because you'd be the only person who has the actual balls to do it.
Edu: Exactly. Here is an idea for someone.
Paige: Good. Also, question related to videos. You have some unbelievable just like shooting, editing skills. Where did you study this or did you just teach it to yourself, did you take some online courses or were you just playing around because your videos now are off the hook.
Edu: Thank you. I never had like actual classes or any of that. But I think it's always good to have references. Sometimes I think it's a hard thing to do initially because we tend to pay attention to the content. But if you're the producer of that content you should pay attention to what's happening behind the scenes there. A very simple example and I usually share with people when I'm doing my Insta stories is they're like how do you actually walk to the hotel room and then suddenly the cameras recording you entering the room? I was like, "Well did you think about me having to stop, put the camera there, record, leave the room, comeback?" So then if you're the producer of the content you should think about that. Like, what are you doing to get that footage? How do you get that specific scene.
Edu: That's kind of what I do when I see really nice videos I try to think about what type of lighting, where is the light coming from? Where is the camera position on that person? What's the angle? Initially you try to copy that and do like a version that looks like that. Then you learn and like you start to build your own kind of signature, let's say, to that where you're like this is a style that I like, that I feel looks well on the video. Then you go on and start building up on that. So I think you can study for it but there's always something that if you have a good eye for you can definitely do it by yourself as well.
Paige: That sounds like just curiosity. I clearly just need to watch your videos and see what you're doing and then be like all right. They're so good really. Okay awesome. I just have a few more for you. So I think it's safe to say, I mean we met at a travel blogging conference. You're ish a travel blogger. Some travel blogs have like the entire world on their blog. It's like this is so and so going to the world, other ones are like location specific. Can you maybe talk about like the advantages or disadvantages of those two types?
Edu: I think that's similar to when someone says should I become a specialist or a generalist? You could be a Jack-of-all-trades, a catch all, but that becomes you're also like a master of nothing. You're not a specialist. So when I started on E-Dublin because I was moving and living in Ireland it just became a natural thing to talk about Ireland. Then suddenly we're seen as like the specialists about Ireland. So anything you want to see or know about Ireland that's the... Go to E-Dublin that's where you'll find it. Then we're the go to channel for Ireland.
Edu: But I think just like as we evolved I think now people are like I'm living here now and we're all living here, where can I visit? Where can I go? That's where we start to talk about different locations, but never to the point of like here's all they need to know to move abroad or to move to this other place. It's more like these are places you could visit. If I bring people in to compare location like what the cost of living in your city compared to this city in Ireland, or so on that's more for the sake of giving them some perspective. But I'm never going to be a specialist on London or Berlin or in Munich because that's just way too much to know.
Edu: I could evolve into that and become I don't know maybe hire people abroad and create like E-Munich, E-Berlin, or E-London and that's when it's about the strategy right. If I'm trying to do that it's probably going to take me longer than being a specialist in Ireland and try to build up around the knowledge that I have in Ireland. That's kind of what we're doing like the events and the different types of contents. There's a lot around careers in Ireland because big companies are established here. So a lot of people didn't tap into it and I feel there's an opportunity to grow that I'm focusing on that at this point. So I'm not really thinking much about different locations and I think some people do that, but I think it goes to a point there's just so much you're going to create about certain destination and you're going to link yourself on that.
Paige: And I'm sure just Google wise I'm sure you're absolutely murdering like every other website related to that.
Edu: Right. I think that's probably the... You do well in one thing but if you're doing the same search and then you change the word Ireland for England, we're probably not going to be seen anywhere but that's the choice.
Paige: Yeah I agree because I think a lot of people when they think like, " I want to start a travel blog." They of course want to go travel the world and therefore like bring the blog with them. But I think there's really specific advantages to actually just focusing in on one location. One being if it goes from that hobby and becomes your job then when you go take a vacation, you go take an actual vacation.
Edu: Yeah exactly. A while now we're still getting a lot of work done in the destinations because it's more about the places you should visit. But you're absolutely right it's not that responsibility around having to create how much does it cost for the hotel, how much is the restaurant, how much is that and then taking pictures of everything. It's more about the experience of like, "Hey, I'm traveling to this place it seems like a fun place to be." And it's much more informal.
Paige: Really good, okay amazing. So in terms of a little bit of encouragement if you could go back to the Ed who was just getting started, had no idea what the hell he was getting into what would be some words of encouragement that you would give him going into this whole journey that you have gone into?
Edu: Good question. So, there's one thing that might help people and then I'll give you like little story on that and then the why.
Edu: So up to early this year as I said I was working for Dropbox, leading their operations for communities globally with a lot of strategy behind planning exactly what needs to be done, hiring a lot of people to do plan that and execute on that. I never felt I was as successful as building a community as I was when I was building E-Dublin. Back when I was starting E-Dublin I didn't even know what community manager means. I didn't know it was a job that community members would do. I didn't study for that, I didn't put a strategy around this is how E-Dublin's going to play out and this is how we going to make money. So what I did was I just did it, I just went and did it.
Edu: I started in a very simple way and it kept going as a simple thing, very informal but being very humble, very honest and very authentic. Because that was me, my own life experiences. So, if I was to go back I wouldn't change that and try and put in strategy. Like if Ed from today with a lot of knowledge about strategy would go back there, I probably wouldn't do that because it wouldn't flow the same way. So I think the best thing to do is just do it and then as you're doing it you're going to figure out and you're going have struggles. As you find the struggles you find ways and work arounds to fix that.
Edu: So I think people tend to be stuck in watching videos on how to do things or getting inspiration by listening to a podcast but I think the next thing you should do after listening to this podcast is go in and do what you have to do. Stop just watching and consuming the content but produce that content if you want to be a producer of content.
Paige: Absolutely that's really great advice, so good. Okay awesome. So where can we learn more about your business where can we support you and follow you and learn all about you and E-Dublin?
Edu: Sure. So if you search for E-Dublin, E hyphen Dublin anywhere you're going to find us. So we're on Instagram E_Dublin. If you go on YouTube E-DublinTV if you're on Facebook E-Dublin blog or E-Dublin.com.br and you can get all the information about us. We promise that we're going to create some content in English in the future.
Paige: Okay yeah that's a good question. One of the things I was researching I was like it's all in Portuguese.
Edu: We do get a lot of that and that's part of the, as I was telling you part of the plan is expanding within Ireland. So, what's the next thing for us it's probably creating content in English and maybe getting different audiences that are interested in Ireland. Or from the perspective that we have in the world.
Paige: Yeah, so good. Then what's your personal Instagram handle so people can go see your sick videos?
Edu: Sure, that's @Edu.Guasante. You probably have to write this down somewhere.
Paige: That would be a mission, thank you so much this was so wonderful.
Edu: Thank you. Thanks for the invite it was great being here. Paige: Thanks so much for hanging out with us for this episode of the Online Business Besties podcast. If you love the show be sure to leave a rating and review wherever you listen to podcasts. And of course check out the show notes for this episode and all past episodes at PaigeBrunton.com.
hang out with today’s guest: edu giasante
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