From the archive: This episode was originally recorded and published in 2019. Our interviews on Entrepreneurs On Fire are meant to be evergreen, and we do our best to confirm that all offers and URL’s in these archive episodes are still relevant.
Kenny Kline is a serial tech entrepreneur and the founder of content company JAKK Media, which owns and operates media sites that serve passionate audiences.
Jakk Media – Passionate Audiences. Great Content.
Kenny’s LinkedIn – Connect with Kenny on LinkedIn!
Kenny’s Twitter – Follow Kenny on Twitter :)
3 Value Bombs
1) Know what you are oddly obsessed with.
2) No niche is really too small. Even small audiences can get big revenue.
3) There is a lot of opportunity to be successful; you just have to take sustainable action.
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: How To Find A Niche That Guarantees You Can Fire Your Boss Next Year with Kenny Kline
[1:04] – Kenny shares something about himself that most people don’t know.
- Kenny is an active bee keeper in New York City.
[2:00] – How do we identify a niche where we can both build a business and compete in 2019?
- Look for passionate audiences and even sub-audiences.
- It can be for a limited amount of time.
- You can use platforms such as Google and YouTube to help you find your niche
[7:20] – Kenny gives an example of someone who is using YouTube as a platform in a powerful way
- Nick English
- Know what you are oddly obsessed with.
[9:53] – What is the most important thing to do when starting a business?
- Keep in mind that you are on a marathon and not in a sprint.
- Plan and make sure to strategize.
[12:04] – There’s always so much to do – how do I allocate my time for maximum efficiencies?
- Evaluate – spend time to appraise what needs to be done for the business.
- Do the things that matter.
[14:26] – A timeout to thank our sponsor!
- HubSpot: Building a business is challenging enough; your tech stack shouldn’t make it harder! Learn how HubSpot can help your business grow better at Hubspot.com.
[14:28] – What are the best ways to monetize? And how soon can I do this?
- Affiliate – earn commission by recommending others’ products or services.
- Sell a product – create something that is specifically for your audience.
[16:21] – Let’s talk about scaling…
- Do more with something that works.
- Level up – do partnership or cross promotions.
- Find ways to keep doing what you’re doing without spending as much effort.
- Outsource – think about potential for partnerships or promotions.
- By providing your audience with more value you can scale your revenue.
[18:23] – Can you talk about the process of outsourcing vs. hiring internally?
- Outsourcing – great way to get started with the business. Outsourcers will allow you to break down your business.
- Hiring internally – hire someone who can equally do the business for you or who can do better than you.
[21:49] – How big can these niche sites really get? Is this actually a viable business model?
- Kenny says, “absolutely” and provides an example.
- Barbend – intense weightlifter site. Getting 2 million visitors a month.
- Niche sites will help you connect your business with audiences around the world.
- No niche is really too small. Even small audiences can get big revenue.
[25:04] – Kenny’s parting piece of guidance
- There is a lot of opportunity to be successful; you just have to take sustainable action.
- Jakk Media – Passionate Audiences. Great Content.
- Kenny’s LinkedIn – Connect with Kenny on LinkedIn!
- Kenny’s Twitter – Follow Kenny on Twitter :)
[29:01] – Thank you to our Sponsor!
- HubSpot: Building a business is challenging enough; your tech stack shouldn’t make it harder! Learn how HubSpot can help your business grow better at Hubspot.com.
John: Light that sparks, Fire Nation. JLD here with an audio master class on how to find a niche that guarantees you can fire your boss next year. And I have brought Kenny Kline to rock the mic, because he’s a serial entrepreneur and founder of the content company JAKK Media, which owns and operates media sites that serve passionate audiences.
And Fire Nation, we’ll be talking about identifying niches where we can both build a business and compete, and we’ll be talking about which platforms are most important, the best ways to monetize, how do you actually scale, and outsourcing versus hiring internally, and so much more when we get back from thinking our sponsors.
Kenny, say “what’s up” to Fire Nation, and share something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
Kenny: What’s up, Fire Nation? Glad to be here. And something people don’t know about me is that I’m an active beekeeper. So, in New York City that’s a rarity, but I am one of the few that does it up on the roof.
John: Well, one thing I will say, and we’re not going to go down a rabbit hole here, but Fire Nation, if you don’t know how important the bees are to this world operating properly, then it’s pretty interesting to educate yourself on that, because they are so critical, and actually right outside my office window at certain times of the year, we have this tree that blooms, in these beautiful flowers, and we have all of these bees, and Kay’s like oh my god, look at all those bees. Like ew. I'm like, babe, those things are making this world go around. So, let’s give some praise to the bees out there.
But Fire Nation, as I promised in the interim, we’re going to be talking today about how to find a niche that guarantees you can fire your boss next year. So, I love the specificity, I love the theme of this, and let’s dive right in to identify niches where we can both build a business and compete. Talk to us about that, Kenny.
Kenny: Yeah. It’s really the golden age for niches these days, where there’s just such a great opportunity to build an online business and almost anything. And so, when I really first started out doing Internet work, it was 2009, 2010, and you had to build everything from scratch. But these days, you can build up a membership website or your own information service or be a consultant, those types of things, and have a great presence, and you’re just ready to go.
And so, it makes it so that people can build a business in more and more specific niches. So, anything you’re passionate about, anything that people care about or need information, you can do it.
So, how do you identify these, is a good question, and I say all that, because nothing is off the table. I mentioned beekeeping. That’s a fantastic niche. That’s a way to make some fantastic money these days online is selling a course or selling products related to beekeeping or that type of thing, when 10 years ago, it’d be very tough to do that.
If you’re looking for a niche, I would first one, look for passionate audiences or passionate sub audiences. And that doesn’t mean they have to be passionate forever, but it means they’re passionate for a moment. So, for example, one of my biggest sites is a mattress review site. And people are very passionate about mattress shopping for probably a month or two, and then they buy their mattress, and they don’t have that passion anymore needless to say.
As long as you’re passionate for a period of time or like beekeeping for a longer period of time, you can really build a business around each of those. So, how do you do that? One, look for these passionate audiences. I love looking through Reddit feeds, I love looking through YouTube for channels that are really specific, and I love just looking in the world around me were everything you see in your life that you care about, probably millions or hundreds of thousands or tens of millions of people are also caring about it as well.
The other place to really look is Google trends and Google correlations. So, those are both tools put out by Google, and if you go in and type in something into each of those, you can see how popular something is over time. So, as things are getting more popular or steadily increasing, and oftentimes on the internet, lots of these passionate Array [00:04:25] more and more people are finding their way onto the internet.
So, really just go in there and dig through and find these passionate audiences. Reddit and Google trends are my favorite two places to identify those niches.
John: So, Fire Nation, passionate audiences and even sub audiences. That’s a great place to start. And remember, it can be for a limited amount of time. Like you people are looking to buy a camera. They’re probably going to buy one really high-quality camera every few years or five years. Who knows? Or a mattress like the example. That’s a great time to actually get into that person’s psyche for that one-time experience or once every five, ten-year experience.
And I really love the examples he gave like going into Reddit and different places. I found Quora is a great place to find what people are really excited about, because they’re asking really detailed questions about things, and you can see what they really care about by the questions they ask.
So, if our listeners are at the beginning stages, Kenny, what platforms are most important for them to focus on?
Kenny: So, I’ll say this is always up for debate, and it’s always changing, but two that haven't changed in a long time are Google and YouTube. The first one I think everyone’s aware of. They’ve maybe heard the term SEO. They obviously understand how Google works these days. And if you’re building a niche site, you can often rank for terms in Google just by putting out really good content and working to get some exposure to the site. So, if you’re working on something really specific, you can compete.
Now YouTube, that’s my personal favorite platform, especially for a beginner, just because there’s so much opportunity on that platform, and is much, much less competition. So, naturally there’re lots of people making videos, but people really spending the time to make good videos on YouTube around certain niches is a rarity.
And with the great advent of the iPhone and all this equipment, it really doesn’t take much on the technological side as of the last couple years to make really good videos even for a beginner. You know, takes a little practice obviously, but making great YouTube videos that are successful is in my opinion at this point a guarantee if you keep at it. It takes some work. It takes some consistency, but YouTube is a place where I know that you can be successful.
John: I love examples. You know of anybody that you worked with or whether you’ve just maybe study from afar where they’ve actually utilize YouTube in a very powerful way many like they’ve actually gone and done the research and they’re producing the type of content that you think they should be producing, they’re using the platform in the best way to eve seen?
Kenny: Yeah. I think a great one is this guy that used to work for me. His name is Nick English, and he started a boot review YouTube channel. Men’s boots leather boots only review channel, so a very, very specific thing. He started about a year ago and just puts out one video a week. The video quality is pretty good. Nothing special. But he just is really, really well researched work there, and he’s got up to in think almost 20,000 subscribers now a year later, and he’s got people contacting him to do promotions and to review their products, and he’s getting tons of free stuff and people paying him or offering to pay him for sponsorships, and all this just doing one video a week reviewing boots, so being really specific.
And it’s one just because he saw it was a thing. He actually looked on Reddit, and there’s this popular sub Reddit about men’s boots that is very, very active, and he went on YouTube, and there’s maybe a one-offer view from people here and there, but there wasn’t one really great channel around boot reviews. So, he made it, and he’s had some great success as of that.
John: Fire Nation, what are you oddly obsessed with? What’s something that you just love or have passion for or are again oddly obsessed with? You’re just like, you know what? I would just do this for fun, which means you’re going to keep doing it. You’re going to stay consistent. You’re going to actually make good content, because you love this topic like the boot example, a great example.
And another one of my buddies, Chase Reeves, has a great YouTube channel all around backpack reviews. And guess what? I bought a $350 backpack based off of his review on it on his YouTube channel, which he got a hefty commission for, not to mention he gets schwag. He gets offers, he gets sponsorships, all these cool things, because he just loves backpacks.
So, he wants to check them out, and now he gets Santa Claus Christmas every single day or week or month when they send him backpacks, because they’re hoping he’s going to review them on his site that gets incredibly targeted views.
So, think about this stuff, Fire Nation. What are you oddly obsessed with? So, what’s the starting point? What’s the most important thing for our listeners to do when they’re at that starting point?
Kenny: So, I think the big thing is, so you've identified your niche, and you've identified your general approach, you’re going to do a YouTube channel let’s say, is you need to really make sure that you know that this is a marathon and not a sprint.
So, I think a lot of people that I’ve spoken with over the years, they get excited, they go all in, and the burnout three months later. Most things don’t get huge traction in three months. Most businesses aren’t soaring three months after launch date. A lot of times it takes a year, two years, five years to really grow it into something that is meaningful and that is substantial.
And so, what I always tell people to do is really plan it out so that you can do it over the long haul. Like with Stridewise’s channel, he did it once per week, one video per week, because he knew he could do that over the long-term, and I said to him at the beginning, plan on not being able to leave your day job for two to three years.
So, what can you do at nights and weekends that you would feel good about and that you would be able to sustain over the long term. And that’s what he came up with. And that’s always what I say is that you have to do it strategically as well. Use that excitement to put into the quality, but don’t say I’m going to do five videos this week and then three months later, you don’t have any energy left.
It’s kind of like working out where if you go to the gym really intensely for three months and then you get tired any stop, a year later, you’re going to be right – you’re going to be nowhere essentially. If you go to the gym two times a week, three times a week, something manageable for a couple years, you’re fitness is going to grow.
And business is no different. Especially in media and growth of these types of sites, because no matter what you do in a small niche, it’s gonna take a lot of time to really grow our presence, grow your brands, grow the business around it.
John: And I think it’s a great point about running out of energy and really managing your bandwidth and just everything that you’re doing, Fire Nation.
So, what would you say, Kenny, about allocating their time correctly?
Kenny: I think this is something I’ve heard a lot on the podcast. It’s the 80/20 rule. You have to really understand what was your business and spend most of your time doing that. All the stuff that, you know, either it bothers you or it just feels good to do because you’re good at it or all that stuff, you can't spend a lot of time doing it if it’s not going to move the needle for the business.
And so what I do, to this day, every single month, I sit down and I say what did I do this month? What should I have done this month? What in my business really moves the needle? And those things have changed dramatically from the time – the things and actually do to change since the start of the business, but that process of looking back and saying what was impactful with my time, and how can I spend more of my time doing the things that really matter, really move the needle for my business, and how can I get rid of some tasks I don’t need to do or that don’t move the needle and really allocate my time that way.
That’s what’s really powerful for me to this day and that I recommend doing day one in your business. And maybe you don’t know exactly what moves the needle just yet, but take some guesses and have that evaluation period over and over again, and always make the adjustments to that time allocation.
John: Fire Nation, Kenny is not dropping value bombs, because we are going to talk about how to monetize the best way that specifically do that and then scaling, which is so important but sometimes a difficult, and we’re going to talk about outsourcing versus hiring internally when we get back from thinking our sponsors.
So Kenny, we’re back, and let’s talk about monetizing. You know a lot of ways to monetize. Over here at Entrepreneurs on Fire, we have many diverse revenue streams, but what have you found are the best ways to monetize and how our listeners can do that?
Kenny: Yeah. So, when you’re engaged in these passionate audiences, I found that there're two great ways to really monetize early on, day one. And one is probably like you said with the backpack site making recommendations on products, so entering into an affiliate arrangement with one or many vendors or with Amazon directly. Essentially, that just means when you recommend a product or service, if someone clicks over from your site and purchases, then you as the referrer get a cut or a commission of the business. So, that can be really valuable for passionate audiences.
And the second is just to have a product that you sell, and I am a big fan of digital products, so either an e-book or a course or something like that that’s really specific to your audience and what they’re interested in can be very valuable.
So, day one, you can start with both of those things, and they’re great, and the scale very, very well. In our business, chasing page views, trying to get ads on your site and monetize that way, it’s just not working that well anymore. It doesn’t scale very well in my experience, and day one, you know, even if you have thousands or tens of thousands of visitors on your site, ads – and I'm talking kinda like AdSense or ads that go actually on your site are a great way to monetize.
So, you really want to look to extract the value that you have provided your customer either through recommendations or through providing them a really specific digital product I would suggest that they can use and really get a lot of value out of.
John: So, once you start to get the basics and we’re making some dollars, some sense, we’re actually generating some form of revenue, how can we scale? Like what do we need to think about, because we want to go from 1 dollar to 10, 10 to 100, 100 to 1,000, 1,000 to 10,000 as we keep growing. Talk about scaling.
Kenny: Yeah. So, scaling, it comes naturally in two ways. One is if you’re talking about traffic, kind of how do I get more of that, and there’s always a variety of ways, and you’ve been doing something that works if you’re thinking about scaling. So, can I do more of that?
And also once you get to a certain stage it’s like well can I level up? You know, if you’re a YouTube person and you’ve got a couple hundred subscribers, it’s like all right, it’s working, but I just need to do more of this and get more subscribers. If you have 10, 20, 30,000 subscribers, 100,000 subscribers, then you say oh maybe I can do partnerships or cross promotion or that type of thing with other YouTubers or find bigger ways to grow your audience.
So, I think one is to find ways to keep doing what you’re doing without spending as much effort. So, part of that is just natural, because you’ve been doing it, and so you get better at it. But also can you hire somebody or can you outsource a part of this process that takes you a lot of time but is pretty repetitive so that you can spend the time to really explore and do the things that can move the needle even more, whether it’s partnerships or promotions or that type of thing.
On the other side, scale can also come just by providing your current audience more value. So, like I was talking about with the digital product or a course, if you can create a course that is 10 times better than what some product you’re promoting or the course you had before, you can charge a lot more, and so, you can, with the same audience, scale your revenues tremendously just by providing them more value either through a service or a product or even just making better recommendations if you’re doing the affiliate model.
John: So, I feel like a lot of people have problems when it comes to either building a team or just outsourcing everything. Like they really had to struggle, and they say you know, I can see myself building this massive team and having them do the work, me having control, and then being focused on the business, or alternatively, people that are saying but I can just go find people who can be independent contractors and are just great at what they do and they can just do this stuff for me when I need them but are like on a full-time payroll
So, talk about that, that process that’s kind of the pros and cons of outsourcing versus hiring internally.
Kenny: Yeah. And I’ve done both myself, and they both definitely have pros and cons. So, thinking about outsourcing [inaudible] [00:17:43]. Outsourcing is generally a great way to get started, particularly in this type of workers economy where you can go on a place like Upwork, or you can go to a variety of other sites and get someone that’s willing to work part-time that’s very good at something specific.
And as I pointed out when you’re thinking about scaling, you should start earlier on where you don’t need someone to come in and do everything. You don’t need a second you. And I think that’s everyone’s inclination initially is like oh I just need someone that can do everything.
Well, outsource is a great way to practice not doing that where it’s really breaking down your business and saying what can I clump? What couple things can I clump together or even one thing if it takes a lot of time that an outsourcer can do reliably and with maybe some training but not a ton of training, and really start using one or a couple outsourcers to develop that.
Now as time goes on, if you have 10, 20, 30 outsourcers, then answers to be a lot of outsourcers, and before that point, you might think about hiring internally. And at that point, my first hire always has been someone that could manage a part of the business equally as well or better than me.
And so that essentially means I don’t want someone that can come in and be me again. I think that’s a big hiring mistake, but if they can take this area of my work off my plate, and even do it better than me even grow it better than me, then that’s a big value add.
So, if we’re talking about YouTube, for example, I filmed a lot of my own videos for a long time with one of my early channels, and my first hire was a video guy that came in. He did all the filming, all the editing, all the graphics, that type of thing. And so, that hire, one, it freed up a lot of my time, because I wasn’t doing that myself, but also video editing was something I kinda taught myself, I’m okay at it, but he was much better, and so the quality went up as well.
So, that hire was really, really valuable, and the first 5 to 10 hires I think it should be someone that has obvious value and they know where they fit at the company immediately. And one, that makes it just easier for you to scaling grow, but two, also it makes it easier from a management standpoint, because I didn’t have to sit there and train him on all this stuff. He came in and he knew more than me about a lot of aspects of his job. Naturally I have to work with him as a boss and get him in line with the style of the channel, but he brought a lot to the table that he taught me as well, and I think early hires as you scale should be able to do that as well.
John: So, when it comes to niche sites, the word niche kinda means small or really specific or unique. So, a lot of people are like well, could I really turn this into my thing? Could it really turn this into a viable business? What would your answer be to that?
Kenny: I would say absolutely. Now is the perfect time to do it. I’ll give you some examples of my business is our mattress review site gets 5, 600,000 visitors per month. So, that’s a very, very specific niche, but it’s getting a lot of traffic.
Another one of our sites is called BarBend. It’s a very intense weightlifter site. So, if you’re really, really into weightlifting. I’m not saying you go to the gym a couple times, I’m saying you’re kind of – this is your life. That’s what BarBend covers. It does news and events and training tips and reviews and that type of thing. And that site currently has 2 million visitors per month, and we think we can grow it to 5 to 10 million visitors a month.
So, you can see both of those are really, really specific niches, but they scale tremendously, and it’s just a beautiful part of the Internet these days where there are so many people you can connect with all across the US, all across the world when you’re building your business that no niche is really too small.
And I’m a big fan of the – we’ve talked a little bit about courses. Online courses is a great way to generate – even from a very, very small audience, and even more specific kinds than mentioned, you can generate really great revenues. I have a number of friends that I connect with that do online courses from – one does memory improvement. One does productivity. One does how to code Python, and all of them are making more than $1 million per year teaching just that one course, a very, very specific course.
And it’s a very high-end course, and they’re absolutely experts in that little area of the world, but it just goes to show you that these niche sites can grow into not only a viable business model, but a really substantial business as far as most people are concerned.
John: I mean Fire Nation, my biggest take away here is this can all be overwhelming, because you literally can do anything. So, you need to know this down to doing the one thing that you are weirdly obsessed with. We all have our little weird if sessions. What’s yours? Because that can turn into a niche site that a) you absolutely love doing, because you’re weirdly obsessed with it, and you can find your tribe.
It doesn’t have to be 2 to 5 million viewers per month like Kenny’s building up to. It can be 2 to 300,000 or 20 to 30,000 views per month, but if it’s a very specific niche and people are as obsessed about that topic as you are, then I mean you can really build a viable business around this.
And by the way, start small with that one thing that’s going to give you some learnings and some understandings on that next go around or that second idea, or a third idea, or a fourth idea as you’re building up your portfolio of potential niche sites.
Or by the way, may be just knock it out of the park with one, and you just put all your focus into that one thing. That can be a great viable option as well.
So, Kenny, give us a wrap up. What’s one thing you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from this master class? Give us the best way that we can connect with you and any call to action you want to share, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Kenny: Absolutely. So, the thing I’ll leave you with is I hope that this specific information I gave you just goes to show you that it is possible. So, this is definitely the starting point. There’s a lot to figure out, but if you pursue this path, I think there’s a lot of opportunity to be successful.
And so, it’s just really about taking action and taking sustainable action, and you can go on fire your boss, and within a year’s time have a cool business that you really enjoy that you’re working on that you can keep on growing and turn it to something that can really change your life and that you are really proud of.
So, you can do it. I know you can. And so, if you want to learn more about the sites that I've worked on, I do this under my company called JAKK Media. We have four sites. Sleepopolis, BarBend, Security Baron, and Mattress Clarity that we run right now and are planning on launching some more in the coming year.
And follow the online either at LinkedIn or Twitter@ThisBeKenny, are the best places to reach me.
John: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you’ve been hanging out with Kenny and JLD today. So, keep up that heat, and of course, head over to EOFire.com. Just type Kenny in the search bar, and his show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today.
These are the best show notes in the biz. We have links to Kenny’s websites, all his other sites that he has. You can check them EOFire.com and then search for Kenny in that search bar.
And Kenny, I just want to say thank you, brother, for sharing your truth, your value with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Kenny: Great to be on. Thanks so much.
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