This week we’re deconstructing the TGI strategies used by Michael O’Neal, host of the Solopreneur Hour podcast. He appeared on episode 28 of TGI.  

Who: Michael O’Neal. Michael is a branding expert and host of the highly successful Solopreneur Hour podcast, which has over 10 million downloads, as of 2019. He is a car guru, specifically vintage porches, and recently started a new brand to support that hobby called Rennch. He has created 5 hit shows, and has interviewed major celebrities to include Charles Barkeley, Adam Carolla, James Altucher, Hines Ward, and many more. 

Traction: Prior to starting his show, Michael was an expert in branding. He took his skills in order to nail his podcast when he started it by following these three rules: 1.Nail your brand: people have to know what you’re all about within three seconds, otherwise you will lose their attention. 2. Audio/Video Quality: When Michael started podcasting, he knew that there was no excuse for having poor quality audio. He made it a priority to appear and sound as if he were a professional broadcaster, giving the same appearance as anyone on major league shows. 3. Entertainment trumps all: Even if your show/podcast/YouTube channel is educational, it must be entertaining. Michael uses the example of his algebra teacher in high school. While in his class, he never remembered the lessons because of the material, he remembered it because his teacher was entertaining and that resonated in his mind. Entertainment sticks, and that’s what helps achieve traction. 

Growth: Although Michael has a lot of fantastic growth hacks, the one that was most powerful was what I will call review reverse engineering. Once you’ve established your brand, a quality standard, and made sure your content is entertaining, you can move onto where to focus next. How? Michael recommends searching for books, courses, or content in your niche on Amazon or other sites that allow customers to provide feedback. In that feedback, eliminate the 1 and 5-star reviews, because they rarely offer anything of value. In the 2-4-star range, comb through the feedback and identify gaps in the coverage that people want more on. Once you’ve found the themes in the gaps of content, you can provide that content and provide that to the world. Using this technique, you know that there is demand for your content, meaning that your content will certainly be shared and valued. 

Income: Michael is somewhat of a contrarian when it comes to income and monetization, but what most stood out to me when it came to income hacks is that he recommends not having a plan for future monetization. He firmly believes that you should remain open to opportunities and stay flexible as you grow your brand. If you have one particular target in mind, you may miss opportunities. That said, however, Michael has 10 monetization techniques that he keeps in his toolkit for future brands. Those are:

  1. Advertising – Having a company sponsor your content 
  2. Affiliate Marketing – Using content to sell products that you get referral fees for 
  3. Coaching or consulting – What are you good at? Sell private coaching calls and monetize your brain 
  4. Live events with upsells – Sell events and offer products once you get on stage 
  5. Paid speaking – Promote yourself as a speaker with your brand and attract speaking opportunities 
  6. Product endorsements – Have a specific sponsor that endorses content that you provide 
  7. Media passes – This is an opportunity to save on expenses by getting free passes to media events in exchange for covering their event as a broadcaster 
  8. Free equipment – As a content producer with an audience, offer companies to highlight their products in your content if they provide them for free
  9. Products – Create your own products and sell them to your audience, as long as they fit your niche 
  10. Books – Package up your content and make a book that you can then sell to your audience  

Traction action step: Ask three strangers to check out a video or audio file of yours. Once they’ve finished, ask them three questions. 1. Summarize your brand; this will give you insight in what elements of your brand stand out. 2. Provide their opinion on the content of the audio/video. 3. Ask for a 1-2 brands that are most similar to yours; this will allow them to give you a review by association. If it’s a fantastic brand, that’s a good sign. 

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