Podcast

291 Form 5K To 12 Million With The Power Of Affiliates with Nathan Hirsch

Nathan Hirsch is an entrepreneur and expert in remote hiring and eCommerce.
Most recently, Nathan co-founded FreeeUp.com in 2015 with an initial $5,000 investment, scaled it to $12M per year in revenue, and was then acquired in 2019.

Today, Nathan is a co-founder of OutsourceSchool, a company working to educate entrepreneurs on how to effectively hire and scale with virtual assistants through in-depth courses. Nathan has appeared on 300+ podcasts, is a social media personality, and loves sharing advice on scaling remote businesses.

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Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Free Gift:   VA Calculator

3 Key Points:

  • If you have an affiliate program, tell everyone you possibly can, pick a number, pick a timeframe, do it consistently, you’re not selling them, you’re not pitching them, you’re reaching out to them, trying to set up a networking call.
  • Look for people that are in your space that don’t do what you do, but that has the same type of audience the same type of community, you call that Partnership
  • Have that affiliate program in place, networking, going on podcasts, building the partnerships, creating content, and then eventually going after those micro-influencers.

Show Notes:

[3:29] The first thing I do is I network with three new entrepreneurs every single morning, seven days a week, you don’t have to do it like that.

[3:55] During that networking call. You want to learn about them, learn about their story, tell them about you, tell them about your story, and see if there’s some way to work together to help each other.

[5:06] It all goes together because the networking could lead to the partnership, the partnership could lead to a podcast off of that. The next thing is content, consistently putting out content every single day.

[5:59] Have that affiliate program in place, networking, going on podcasts, building the partnerships, creating content, and then eventually going after those micro-influencers.

[7:11] We had real systems, real processes for interviewing, onboarding, training, and managing them and keeping them reducing turnover, and keeping them engaged and motivated.

[11:00] Creating a list of all the things you do, that are repetitive creating systems and processes, you can delegate those to a VA. That is the key to growing and scaling your business and the quickest way to really get into the mindset of growth, rather than just repetition.

[12:50] I think people getting out of the mentality of pushy and salesy is step one, what does work is reaching out to connect with other businesses.

[15:07] Some people, they kind of have that sales shield on, you might have to say, I’m not trying to sell you anything I’m trying to network.

[16:45] No salesy no pushy, and hear them out, listen to their story, be a good listener, ask them questions, learn about them, see if you can help them.

Transcript:

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Christine Schlonski [0:02]
Hi Gorgeous. This is episode number 291 with the wonderful Nathan Hirsch.

Nathan Hirsch [0:08]
Hi, this is Nathan Hirsch, you are listening to Heart Sells! Podcast.

Christine Schlonski [0:12]
I’m really excited about today’s guest. I have tried to get Nathan on the show for quite a while and finally, it had happened. So we will be talking about how he went from actually 5K to 12 million with his amazing business, how he sold it and about his new projects, and how you can learn to tap into the power of affiliates. Nathan has dropped quite a few golden nuggets. So I hope you are ready to tune in. Nathan Hirsch is an entrepreneur and an expert in remote hiring and eCommerce. Most recently, he co-founded Freeeup.com in 2015 with an initial 5000 investment scale to 12 million per year in revenue. And then it was acquired in 2019. Today, Nathan is a co-founder of Outsourced School, a company working to educate entrepreneurs on how to effectively hire scale with virtual assistance through in-depth courses. Nathan has appeared on over 300 podcasts, is a social media personality, and loves sharing advice on scaling remote businesses. So I hope this episode is just right for you. Let’s get started. Well, I am so super excited to have you on the show today. Nathan, welcome.

Nathan Hirsch [1:37]
Thanks for having me excited to be here.

Christine Schlonski [1:39]
Yeah, I just would love to start with your recent success out of many successes you’ve had. But last time when we talked, you kind of were without a company. And then like some weeks later, you are all in creation mode. And you have this amazing new company you’re building out right now, which we’re going to talk about as well because it delivers wonderful value. So let’s just talk a little bit, how do you get from 5000 of investment to actually get as a return 12 million per year in revenue?

Nathan Hirsch [2:25]
Yeah, so you’re talking about my last company Freeup.com, we grew from a $5,000 investment to a million, 5 million, 9 million, and then 12 million in year four. And we really did it using our organic marketing playbook really the same playbook that we’re moving over to our new business Outsource School, it starts with having an affiliate program. So we had, we gave out 50 cents for every hour that we build the someone forever, that you referred. So all of a sudden people that like Freeeup would tell their friends, they tell their communities and they would talk to about Freeeup at conferences. And not only did we have this affiliate program, but we had it very clear on our website, we made sure to mention it at the end of every phone call. So whenever I would talk to anyone, I would say, by the way, I have this great affiliate program, whenever I trained the VAs on how to take phone calls, eventually, with clients, I made sure at the end of every phone call, they mentioned that affiliate program.

Nathan Hirsch [3:18]
So that’s the baseline you have an affiliate program, you have it everywhere you tell everyone you possibly can. From there, there are multiple things you can do. And they all kind of go with each other. And you’ll see what I mean. So the first thing I do is I network with three new entrepreneurs every single morning, seven days a week, you don’t have to do it like that. But pick a number, pick a timeframe, do it consistently, you’re not selling them, you’re not pitching them, you’re reaching out to them, trying to set up a networking call. During that networking call. You want to learn about them, learn about their story, tell them about you tell them about your story, and see if there’s some way to work together to help each other and more on that in a bit.

Nathan Hirsch [3:57]
So the next thing you do is you try to go on podcasts like this one. And podcasts are a great way to get in front of thousands of people at once. They are good for building relationships. You and I were chatting right before this podcast, which kind of goes into networking, and networking can lead the podcast and vice versa. It’s good for backlinks, it’s good for SEO and building the authority on your website. And it’s good for referrals and other things like that. It can refer you to other podcasts and other partnerships, which goes into my third thing, which is partnerships. So we look for people that are in our space that don’t do what we do, but that has the same type of audience and the same type of community. For example, we went after Amazon sellers. When we first started free up I was an Amazon seller, we offered VA s and freelancers for Amazon sellers. We went to these Amazon software companies and we said hey, you don’t provide VA we don’t provide software we have the same we’re both going after the same people. Let’s do some swaps every quarter every two quarters. We’re going to do a blog article, guest blog on each other blog or a YouTube video together or an email blast to each other’s audience. And so again, it all goes together because the networking could lead to the partnership, the partnership could lead to a podcast off of that.

Nathan Hirsch [5:12]
The next thing is the content. So consistently putting out content every single day for those of you that follow me, Nathan Hirsch on LinkedIn, or Facebook, or on Instagram or Twitter, @realnatehirsch, you can see I put out content consistently relative content, content that helps people regardless of whether they buy my services. And the last thing, which is a little bit harder, a little bit down. The line is micro-influencers, people with communities, people that have a following, they have a Facebook group, it could be a podcast, it could be a coach for the students, and you want to partner with them. So they refer you to their audience. The key here is making sure that you add value and you’ll take really good care of their community. Because these influencers are kind of like gatekeepers to their community, they don’t want anyone to go in and hurt things.

Nathan Hirsch [5:55]
So I know there was a lot, but it really comes down to having that affiliate program in place, networking, going on podcasts, building the partnerships, creating content, and then eventually going after those micro-influencers, they all kind of go together. But if you’re consistently doing those little by little over time, you’re going to be able to organically scale your business really quickly. And anything you do in paid ads, Facebook ads, Google Ads are only going to complement that organic marketing strategy.

Christine Schlonski [6:24]
Wow, what an amazing strategy. And I’ve what I like is everybody can basically implement it

Nathan Hirsch [6:31]
Works for every business. Well, I mean, we’re doing it right now with Outsource School.

Christine Schlonski [6:34]
Yeah. So that tells us about Outsource School. Like, that’s a really cool idea. So basically, you are teaching people how to have the VAs?

Nathan Hirsch [6:46]
Yeah, I mean, it took me a good five years to really learn how to hire virtual assistants. And with Freeeup I mean, we were an eight-figure business that had no office, no us employees, it was me, my business partner, Connor, and 35 VA’s in the Philippines. And they all work remotely, we didn’t have an office in the Philippines. And we didn’t just wake up one day and hire 35 people and cross our fingers and hope it worked out. We had real systems, real processes for interviewing, onboarding, training, and managing them and keeping them reducing turnover, and keeping them engaged and motivated. And then hiring them for specific things like podcast research, or lead generation or customer service, or social media. So when we made the decision to sell free up, and we help with the transition, and made sure the new owners were set up to be successful, we started getting a lot of requests, Hey, can you teach me how to use virtual assistants because we went on podcasts, and we did blog articles, but we never really sat down and said, this is our process step by step.

Nathan Hirsch [7:45]
So we launched this course called “Cracking the VA Code” that you can get on Outsource School. And like any new business, I think you launch it and you hope for the best you don’t know if people are gonna like it or not like it and the reaction was very positive. So we started launching new mini-courses on “How To Hire VAs To Get More Podcasts and Lead Generation” and “How To Hire a VA Bookkeeper”. And we turn it into a membership where if you buy “Cracking the VA Code”, you get full access for an entire year of all the future courses that we come out with, you get to be part of our community, you get support. So if you take our course and learn how to interview a VA, and then you go and interview a VA and they say something and you don’t know if that’s good or bad, or a red flag, you can come to us with your VA questions. And if you want us to come out with a course that’ll help you you can tell us and we’ll do it. So we created this community.

Nathan Hirsch [8:33]
And then kind of a cool thing that we’re adding is the same developer that built Freeeup is working on an SOP Building Software that we think is going to be a game-changer. And we want to build VA software that complements whatever else is out there and complementary education. So that’s the basic idea. We’re about 90 days in the reviews have been great so far. And we’re really excited to help a lot of people because we know that hiring VAs can be the difference between scaling and staying put.

Christine Schlonski [8:59]
Yeah, totally. I love your excitement. I love the energy that just comes from you talking about it. And that’s what we entrepreneurs have, right? We’re so excited about that new idea about creating something putting it out there. So what advice would you give people like looking at all of your business experience? When they let’s say they’re in a service business? Maybe a coach, a healer, creative consultant, expert speaker? What can they do? In a, you know, with maybe a smaller budget to get that VA support? Because I know for myself, you know, these are things that can be pretty frustrating. If you haven’t figured them out that and why should people look for a VA in the Philippines?

Nathan Hirsch [9:45]
Yeah, great question. So the cool thing about hiring virtual assistants is you don’t need to hire VAs full time. I just hired a bookkeeper for five hours a month, five hours a month, not even a week and she just keeps me on top of our monthly reports. From day one, she pays out our affiliates, she’s just on top of that stuff. And that’s one less thing I need to deal with. I also just hired a VA from Freeeup, which is a little weird. But I hire them for 10 hours a week, 7 am to 9 am, just to clear my inbox every day just to give me a head start to every single day. And I think that’s what entrepreneurs need to focus on. Yes. So eventually, you can build out that 35 person team and have them build you thousands of hours every week. But you don’t have to start there. And even though I’ve done that before, with my new business, I’m not starting there. I’m starting small, and I’m building up gradually, as I need it.

Nathan Hirsch [10:34]
So I think the key is, how do you take some hours that you’re spending on low-level repetitive tasks, and move those hours into revenue, growing tasks, everything, we started off this episode talking about the partnerships, the content, the marketing, the affiliates, and micro-influencers, like that’s where you want to be spending your time. And you can have VAs to assist with a lot of those things, too. But you want to be focused on that high revenue stuff. So creating a list of all the things you do, that are repetitive creating systems and processes. So you can delegate those to a VA, that’s five hours a week, or 10 hours a week, or five hours a month, whatever it is, and shift where those hours are being allocated. That’s the key to growing and scaling your business. And it’s the quickest way to really get into the mindset of growth, rather than just repetition.

Christine Schlonski [11:22]
Yeah, and I think it’s so important that you’re pointing this out, because as entrepreneurs, oftentimes we get stuck in tasks that are not that much fun, and they don’t generate revenue. And it’s really important to have the mindset and be open to outsourcing this because you might be paying $10 an hour, and you have the opportunity if you find an affiliate who helps you sell your course, making several hundred or thousands of dollars, depending on how you are set up. And that’s so super important. So to get money into the door that you can actually afford to hire a VA. I think one of the key components that you are mastering so well is connecting with three entrepreneurs every single day, seven days a week. How did you have the idea? And how can people take your idea to help them and their business?

Nathan Hirsch [12:25]
Yeah, and we talked about it a little bit in our lead generation course that’s coming out. And I The other thing to remember is I’m not working seven days a week, I’m not doing these calls seven days a week, I’m just reaching out to them like I might reach out to three people on Saturday, reach out to three people on Sunday. And they might not respond to me until Monday. Even if they do respond. I’m scheduling those calls during the week. So I’m not just constantly hustling seven days a week, but it’s the consistency that matters. And I think people getting out of the mentality of pushy and salesy is step one, how many of us have gotten those LinkedIn messages that say, Hey, I do SEO, buy my products right now, like that doesn’t work. What does work is me reaching out and saying, Hey, my name is Nathan, I own XYZ business, we’d love to connect with you, or we’d love to connect with you? I’m in the same space.

Nathan Hirsch [13:10]
And I mean, entrepreneurs are only going to respond in one to three ways, right? Like they’re, most people are really nice. If someone reaches out to me like that, I’m going to respond back and I love networking, I’m going to talk to them, they’re going to ignore you or miss it. Or maybe they use a different channel. And you can either follow up or maybe you contact them on Instagram if they don’t check Facebook. Or occasionally you’ll get that rude mean person that or someone that’s just having a bad day that rejects you. And, and that’s okay, too. I mean, you move on. And I’ve had people that have rejected me for years. But because I didn’t get angry, I didn’t get aggressive, I didn’t get pushy, I didn’t get frustrated, I kept following up within reason I didn’t follow up the next week, but six months later, I’d follow up and eventually I got on the phone with them. Eventually, they saw my content, eventually, whatever it is, and then we ended up working together, people are busy, people have good days, people have bad days, so you can’t let that frustrate you. It’s about that consistency. And you’re gonna meet a lot of awesome entrepreneurs, like me like you that want to help other people that want to meet other people. And that’s where you get to focus your time.

Christine Schlonski [14:12]
Yeah. So what’s your system is you set up a time, like right in the morning, to kind of connect the three people, send out a message or schedule a call, and then you’re done. And you repeat the next day?

Nathan Hirsch [14:27]
Yeah, or 7 am. I find those entrepreneurs, I try not to just make it completely random. Usually, it’s a connection of a connection. Or, for example, if I just went on your podcast, maybe I’ll look up what other guests you’ve had on the podcast. And then I can reach out to them and say, hey, we were just on the same podcast, we’d love to connect with you. So super easy way. So I’ll reach out to them. I’ll send them a message we’d love to connect with. And then they could respond to me instantly. They could respond to me a month later anytime in between. So throughout the day, you’re getting these responses back and you want to make it easy for them.

Nathan Hirsch [14:57]
You want to answer any questions because I think some people, they kind of have that sales shield on. So like, oh, what are you trying to sell me? So you might have to say, hey, I’m not trying to sell you anything I’m trying to network and then have a Calendly or scheduling app. I like Calendly. But you can use whatever app you want and say, hey, do you want to use your calendar? Or do you have one that you want to use? And a lot of times, they’ll have one and you can book in at a time that works for both you and then you have the call. So make it super easy, super clean, you can have canned responses on your phone, like a common response that I’ll get is what’s Freeeup or what’s Outsourced School. If I say hey, we’d love to connect, I own Outsource School. So I have three sentences on my phone canned response, if someone says, hey, we’d love to connect with what’s Outsource School, boom, copied in there, and it’s no big deal. And I’m not copying and pasting everything from a can but certain things. I just find myself repeating over and over again. I just have them ready to go.

Christine Schlonski [15:46]
Yeah. And then what happens on the call just for people who might not be such great networkers? Like what would they do? If somebody actually says, yeah, I’m happy to book a call with you like, What’s the next step?

Nathan Hirsch [15:58]
So on the call, the first thing you want to do is show that you appreciate their time, they took time out of their busy, busy day to meet with you and start off just thanking them. Hey, I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me whatever it is. From there, there’s always some element of small talk. I mean, right now we’ve got COVID 2019. Tear to the COVID-19 going on. So usually, my first question is, hey, how are you holding up? How’s everything going with you? Or are you in your family safe? That’s an easy one, assuming people are listening to this after COVIDs over. Ask them where they live, like basic, small talk doesn’t have to be anything crazy.

Nathan Hirsch [16:30]
There’s no right or wrong there. And then from there, you kind of re-establish, hey man, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, we’d love to hear about you, your background, your story, love to tell you a little bit about me. And then if there’s some way to work together, great. If not, I love just meeting other people. Again, no salesy, no pushy, and hear them out, listen to their story, be a good listener, ask them questions, learn about them, see if you can help them. Maybe you can add a connection, maybe you can connect them to someone, maybe there’s a podcast you were recently on, and they would be a good guest or, or you can add value in different ways. Hey, I noticed something on your website, whatever, don’t be salesy. And then you tell their story and vice versa. Or maybe they have questions. And that’s really the phone call. And in the end, if you think they’d be a good partner or something like that you can bring it up, hey, I have this partnership program. I think it would be a good fit. If it works for you. You could whatever it makes sense. After that, you might realize that it doesn’t make any sense if you just think of time, or it could be a relationship or it could be something where you check back in three months or something. So that kind of depends on where the conversation goes.

Christine Schlonski [17:35]
And how much time would you reserve for such a conversation?

Nathan Hirsch [17:39]
Well, I tend to talk pretty quickly. So probably in that 10 to 15-minute range.

Christine Schlonski [17:44]
Yeah. Okay. So you wouldn’t set up like an hour or something

Nathan Hirsch [17:47]
I know I would never set up and usually, I let them book 30-minute calls, just because that’s how my calendar is set up. I don’t want to have like 3 – 10 minute calls every 30 minutes. But the call usually takes 10 minutes. 15 minutes or so.

Christine Schlonski [17:59]
Yeah. Okay. Awesome. So when we go back in your life, and it seemed so entrepreneurial, what was the very first thing that you ever sold?

Nathan Hirsch [18:11]
Textbooks. So I actually even before that, it’s funny, I was always good at negotiating like how much money I would make per hour. So all my friends would be making like minimum wage, right? And I would, I would look for jobs that I could negotiate. I remember I landed a job that was supposed to be 10 bucks an hour, I negotiated my way up to 12 bucks an hour. And at the time, this was oh man 2007 ish, somewhere in there and making 12 bucks an hour when you’re like 15 Oh my god, that was good money like people couldn’t believe making that money. So. So like that was I think the starting point, I was like, hey, I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. I’m gonna negotiate this. Not that I’m like better than anyone else. But I kind of had that mentality that like, I’m special. Like, if you want to hire me, you gotta pay the premium and for whatever reason, that worked and translated.

Nathan Hirsch [19:01]
But then when I got to college, I’d had these summer jobs. I had these summer internships. And I really learned a lot about business about marketing and money and profit margin, just like normal business stuff that a lot of people don’t experience in their 15s, aged 15 to 20. And I also had a boss where I was working 40, 50 hours a week and I hated having a boss there was nothing I hated more than having a boss. So when I got to college, I started hustling because I didn’t want to get a job after college. I said, hey if I’m working for someone for 30 years, I’m going to be miserable. So I started buying and selling people’s textbooks. I would list them online and eventually came across Amazon. That’s how I found it. But that was my first business was competing with my school bookstore, offering higher prices in them holding on to the books at the end of the semester and reselling them at the beginning of the next semester and making that difference and I eventually got a cease and desist letter from my college telling me to knock it off because I was competing with them.

Christine Schlonski [19:59]
That’s interesting. And did you sell anything before that when you were younger?

Nathan Hirsch [20:04]
I had a lot of failed lemonade stands. So I didn’t live on a very busy street. So it was funny. I tried like lemonade. My parents have rhubarb, which is a fruit for those of you that don’t know, and rhubarb and raspberries, so I would try to sell those. But again, no one came down my street. So those failed pretty miserably. I mowed lawns for my neighbors. So I always had a little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, but nothing where I actually made good money.

Christine Schlonski [20:30]
Yeah, well, but you know, the question is like, have you ever made money as a kid? And you know, for lots of people they haven’t.

Nathan Hirsch [20:36]
Right?

Christine Schlonski [20:37]
So that experience I find fascinating. What’s, what’s the first idea? Like, what did you come up with? And yeah, well location is everything when we talk about real estate and putting your lemonade stand in front of your house. So but you know, you gave it a try, and you came up with another idea. So I just love that. Yeah, we’re already out of time. But I’m so happy that we do have another conversation. Before we do, I would really encourage people to check out your VA calculator, which I find fascinating because it helps you to make good choices. Tell us about the VA calculator.

Nathan Hirsch [21:16]
Yeah, so before you do anything before you start interviewing, onboarding, training, and managing VAs, you need to know how many VA’s you can afford, is it one part-time for 10 hours a week is it two full time and we have this awesome VA calculator, if you go to outsourceschool.com/VAcalculator you can grab it and you put in information about your business you put in how aggressive or how conservative you want to be, and it spits out, hey, you can afford one full-time VA or one part-time VA or whatever it is. And that’ll give you a baseline. And the reason I made this calculator is for years on Freeeup, there would always be that one client who would hire VA and invest time and money and energy into them, only to realize that they couldn’t afford that VA. So I always wish that there was a tool that could help that type of personality. I think this VA calculator will really help a lot of people.

Christine Schlonski [22:03]
Awesome. Well, thank you so so much. I’m excited about our next interview coming up soon. And thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and positive vibe and energy today. Talk to you soon.

Nathan Hirsch [22:15]
No problem. Thanks for having me.

Christine Schlonski [22:18]
While there were so many golden nuggets, and I just loved was, the kind of energy Nathan shows up, and how determined he is to do his daily connections, his outreach, his communication, and to inform everybody about his affiliate program. So I’m wondering if you have an affiliate program in place if you are planning one, if so, I think this was really, really valuable for you. And if you don’t have anything in place, that might be something you want to consider to help your business grow. I’m looking forward to having you back for the next episode, Nathan will be sharing “How To Maximize Every Single Day”. He’s quite a master in it. So come and learn from him. And also have some fun today. Hop on over to christineschlonski.com find the podcast tab with the show notes, the resources, we talked about, the transcript, and all the links that connect to Nathan, so you can learn more about him and dive into his world. And also, once you’re over there, sign up for The Empowerment Notes. This is empowerment right into your inbox, where I share some strategies, inspiration, motivation, tools with you to grow your business with your heart, and from your heart. Thank you so much for having been here. Have an amazing, amazing day and I’m saying bye for now.

 

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