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How To Build Evergreen Information Based Websites (with Ruairi Spillane from Moving2Canada)

Ruairi’s the founder of 3 successful web businesses with millions of annual unique visitors. Here’s how he builds and scales evergreen information based websites and communities.

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Intro

Welcome to the Indie Media Club Podcast. I’m Ben Aston, founder of the Indie Media Club. We’re on a mission to help independent, bootstrapped media entrepreneurs succeed, to help people who create, promote a monetize through content do it better. Check out IndieMedia.club to find out more. 

Ben Aston

So today, I’m joined by Ruairi Spillane and is the founder of Moving2Canada.com and Outpost Recruitment. He’s a finance guy turned entrepreneur after his move to Vancouver in 2008. And with three successful businesses under his belt and millions of unique visitors every year. 

Ben Aston

So keep listening to today’s podcast to learn more about evergreen information-based websites, community building, scaling, and diversifying. Hello, Ruairi. 

Ruairi Spillane

Thanks for having me on. Ben. 

Ben Aston

Thanks for joining us today. So let’s start by digging a bit into your story. And you started Moving2Canada back in 2008. Can you tell us a bit about what that kind of an idea was back in 2008 and why you thought it was a good idea to start building a website around that? 

Ruairi Spillane

Sure. So I guess the idea might have been conceived in 2008. But the business didn’t start in earnest until 2012. So what happened in 2008 was I moved to Canada and that started to put the wheels in motion. So I guess the core of moving to Canada, it’s a community the word community is overused a lot of these days. So it’s overused a lot these days. But it’s B.C. community users today shared the same dream of being successful in Canada. So it’s a marketing platform. It’s a content creation website, but it’s also a community of newcomers in Canada. 

Ben Aston

And what does that community actually looks like? I mean, you said that community is overused. What does your Moving2Canada community look like? 

Ruairi Spillane

Sure. So the mission we have is to simplify the process of moving to Canada. So Canada attracts over a million new immigrants every year. That’s between students, permanent residents, temporary work permit holders. So moving to Canada is designed to support these users. It’s a free resource to support them at whatever stage of the journey they’re at. So the journey often starts with Hawaii Canada. You’re sitting in another country and you realize that, hey, I like the idea of living in Canada. I like the idea of economic opportunity. I just want to have a year or two of adventure and then we support the user. True is answering to Hawaii question. The immigration debate comes down to planning employment. Then often these users move on to become permanent residents and becoming citizens like you and me. 

Ben Aston

Well, I’m not actually a citizen, Ruairi. 

Ruairi Spillane

Oh, not yet. 

Ben Aston

I still got to do my paperwork. I’m a mere permanent resident. Yeah. No, I haven’t. I haven’t done my paperwork, so I can’t vote and I have to get a visa every time I go to the States. 

Ruairi Spillane

Well, we have some we have some articles to help you with that. 

Ben Aston

So back in, I guess in 2012, when you started at the website, what was the what was what happened on day one? And how did you know you’ve got this gone through this experience yourself of moving to Canada and, you know, integrating into society to the extent that now obviously you’re a citizen of Canada, but what did you do on day one where, you know, okay, I’m going to make this thing? 

Ruairi Spillane

I think having lived here since 2008, I guess 2008 was interesting because that was the global financial crisis happened later that year. So I randomly ended up getting offered a job in Canada. And here I was, an Irish citizen sitting in Vancouver. Due to the global financial crisis. Quickly afterward, a lot of people I knew and friends of friends started contacting me, asking the same questions around moving to Canada. They’re asking me, what’s the employment market like? How do I execute? How do I get a work permit? What else do I need to look out for? Where should I live? So a lot of the ideas for the content verdure in my head from Real-Life, questions from people. So I think day one was it was a case of just putting the frequently asked questions to get or it actually started off. It was a simple Facebook page back when you could create a notes section on a Facebook page. Right. And basically I went through all the frequently asked questions that I was getting. I made them relevant to all audiences. My experience was dealing with a lot of Irish people having moved from Ireland, but I made them relevant to all the various nationalities. I added hyperlinks to take them to relevant resources and just beg skilled and borrow to try and grow my fanbase. So day one essentially looked like a giant private messaging. All of your friends taking the time to personalize the message to peoples to get a better result rather than just posting it across social media. Did a lot of. Yeah, a lot of it was just big, big stolen borrow, grow some funds, start building basic content. I didn’t even have a website. On day one. So a lot of it really started with testing the concept in a very cheap, meaningful way. And I was very lucky that I was still employed during that process as well. So it was just a case of taking two or three hours every evening to try and work and work on the aspects that I needed to improve. So it was a very lean startup to try and test the concept. 

Ben Aston

And so you’ll see your building out this community. You’re inviting everybody you know, and asking them to invite their friends and putting together this, I guess, wicky of frequently asked questions within Facebook with all those questions that people keep asking you. And then how did you decide that? I mean, obviously, you had in your mind that there was something about our business idea in here somewhere if you just spend that much time on it each night. So what was your what was the original business model you were kind of thinking you were going to develop here? 

Ruairi Spillane

I think what forced the business, first of all, it was I had moved in 2008. So as working in financial, it would have a financial software company after the financial crash. I was pretty disillusioned with the financial industry. So I really wanted to do something more meaningful. And I realized this. Joe in Ireland was severely impacted by the financial crisis. So a lot of people were had to leave Ireland. So they had no intention of exploring other countries. But families that had to uproots and immigrate to Canada to get out of situations of negative equity right after the housing crash. So in terms of I knew something had to change. And I guess for me, when I learned about the challenges, Ireland was in a situation where we were after a construction boom before the financial crash. So a lot of Ireland’s exports were actually working in the construction sector. So Ireland was in a unique situation where they had to export a lot of their construction talent. And here I was in Vancouver who had a unique situation where the oil industry was booming at the time and they needed to look beyond the borders of Canada to find construction workers. So the original idea for me was I wanted to identify Irish construction talent before they immigrate to Canada. And I wanted to build a recruitment agency. I saw large Canadian corporations, construction companies such as Akon, Graham, PCL. They were traveling to Ireland and the UK twice a year to recruit. And I do the business opportunity for me was I could be the 24/7 middleman. Helping these people. So the concept of moving to Canada was to build a lead generation that could help me identify these people early in the process. And then the revenue model was US Canadian employers would pay me to connect them with top-quality talent from overseas. 

Ben Aston

And so, I mean, that was that your mastermind from day one, that that was what you were trying to build? Because that’s quite a that’s quite a complex route. It’s a revenue generation. Right? First you build the community, then you hope that some of them are construction workers and then you try and talk them up for jobs. 

Ruairi Spillane

Definitely. I did go very wide. And it was funny to variations. Right, because the Facebook page started with Vancouver initially. And then I realized that it was more so in Alberta where they needed to workers. So I toyed with western Canada, moving to western Canada, and then somebody realized, well, you might as well go, but all of Canada. And my challenge was I’d just been living in the country for 23 years. I realized, how am I going to build all the content? So I did go very wide initially and that was probably the biggest challenge. But I was very lucky. The concept started in 2011. So for the first 12 months, I was essentially moonlighting. So I had revenue coming in and I was just trying to make enough hours in the evening or during my lunch or whenever I could to try and test the concept. So when I saw the traffic growing through the website very, very quickly, that then opened up decon advertising component very quickly, I did have my eye end up, but I knew I needed to grow traffic considerably. So the quick growth in traffic made it a lot easier for me in July 2012 to quit my job with very limited revenue. But figuring that I can make this work because I realize I need to dedicate myself to this full time. 

Ben Aston

Cool. And so at that point, you’re monetizing through sponsorship on the website and also through recruitment fees from placing Irish immigrants into construction jobs across Canada. 

Ruairi Spillane

Yes. And that was pretty much it in the first year. So I expanded, I realize, to Ireland is a very finite population. So I started expanding that very, very quickly. But it was always easier to focus on a market that you knew and understood. I knew how to find Irish people in particular, and we quickly expanded it then because I realized a resource like this shouldn’t have any kind of boundaries. And Ireland is just one of many groups now of benefits from the free information on our website. 

Ben Aston

And so obviously, the Web site became a big component of what you’ve created. You’ve got the Facebook group. And then how did you make that kind of, I guess, transition, or has it always been kind of symbiotic, this resource within the Facebook group and the website itself? 

Ruairi Spillane

I think it was symbiotic, as indeed Facebook groups were. Obviously a great place for people to gather and identify the audience. What we really wanted. My goal really was to have these people register, moving to Canada, and create a profile and didn’t date allowed me to. Joe identified construction and engineering talent. But it also allowed me to kind of understand a segment better in terms of audience insights. And then that allowed us to kind of build up the advertising component of the business. So it was quite interesting in terms of it being a hybrid between advertising and recruitment. But essentially, it’s marketing, right? Our idea was to build a free resource, build traffic, and outpost recruitment, which is my recruitment brand, became a customer of moving to Canada. So we were able to generate revenue through advertising with Canadian brands and services. And then we’re also able to build recruitment revenue by ah by delivering top quality international talent to Canadian employers who I think is really a fascinating business model. 

Ben Aston

Are there other examples like this that you that inspired you? 

Ruairi Spillane

No, that’s right. Interesting. And it’s a quote. What kind of lunatic starts up a recruitment business having never worked in the construction or never worked in recruitment? I always pondered the idea of going working with a recruitment agency for twelve months just to understand the process. But I guess it came down to just being I was very unhappy in finance and I knew I needed to make the change. So I just realized that, hey, I’d prefer to just get busy doing my own thing rather than sitting in an office day today. And that was the primary motivator for me. I wanted to behave freedom of time and freedom of location. And I wanted to be able to spend more time in Ireland every year, more time traveling. And I wanted to be able to kind of work when I felt productive as opposed to sitting in an office from 9:00 to 5:00. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. And let’s talk numbers. How many visitors do you get to move to Canada each month? Do you know your numbers? 

Ruairi Spillane

Yes. So it’s typically we peaked in the last few months at around six hundred thousand visits. That’s roughly about 400000 unique visits per month. 

Ben Aston

And then. And how in terms of your subscriber list what does that look like? 

Ruairi Spillane

It’s roughly about a hundred thousand and that’s typically kind of full profiles. We do have email-only options. But typically, we’re able to convert to a large component of this. The idea for me was we it’s free information and we just designed a hook, which is our getting started guide. So if you’re having trouble knowing where to start. The idea was, you know, you complete a tree or form in a profile. It kind of tells us what your intended arrival date, what your visa program, or what you think your visa program might be. Your profession. Basically very simple information. And we didn’t give access to that. It’s basically it was a 30 page PDF to kind of simplified a process, essentially a high-level view of the whole Web. And that allowed us to tend to actually get her better insights on people, too. 

Ben Aston

So in terms of it, I mean, he talks about like creating that lead magnet, try and get people to create profiles. But in terms of building up one hundred thousand thoughts. That’s pretty impressive. Like, what’s with the things that would be most effective for you in marketing Moving2Canada, kind of increasing awareness of it? Has it been that community that you created on Facebook or has it been something else? 

Ruairi Spillane

I think to be very honest, I think it’s it’s the product. What we’re selling in Canada. It’s a very attractive product. And the world is in a joke candidate country with a great lifestyle. We four of the top 10 cities are the most livable cities in the world. So I think the idea was that we created that simplification buffer between the user and the Immigration Canada website. So Immigration Canada is a very bureaucratic website. It’s complexity, and we just created that buffer. So I think we’re in a space where there was a lot of the demand for information. And the idea is we made it free. A lot of our competitors that kind of came and went. We’re trying to monetize it too quickly. I was very lucky that I had recruitment revenue to keep me going at the start. And my goal was always to make it free and keep it free. And we just really focused on growing our audience. But I think a lot of it was just this huge demand in that space. We grew true Facebook initially referrals. We’re still at a point where about 70 percent of our traffic is organic. So basically through strong SEO. We didn’t use paid advertising until 2016. So it just grew organically, very quickly between 2012 and 2016. And but we always had the challenge of how do you kind of monetize? And it really was a lifestyle business formation 2012 to 2016. And I remember when we started getting Joel, it started growing very quickly in 2016. And then we realized, okay, now we need to know. We need to learn. We had advertisers at that point, but it was a very kind of simplistic advertising. And then we realized right now we need to get a little bit more sophisticated in terms of how we sell advertising because we have an audience now and we have to educate Canadian brands and the importance of building a relationship with a potential lifelong customer before they arrive at these ideas once they arrive at the airport. Sometimes they’ve already made our mind up on what products and services they’re going to use. And if you think about every new car, mergers are a deal. Need a bank account. They need a phone. They have to buy travel insurance. There isn’t a lot of products and services. And that was the opportunity for us. We just had to educate Canadian brands, some verticals, ghettos, and many verticals still. And so our goal became to try and educate brands and why you should become part of the journey as opposed to waiting until they arrive. 

Ben Aston

And so obviously, you began to monetize it through this advertising or sponsorship and through that recruitment placement. So you started trying to recruit people having no recruitment experience previously. How what did what was that like for you? 

Ruairi Spillane

It was interesting. But look, I always, always say to people that you can teach. If your heart is in the right place to challenge with a lot of sales positions and recruitment in specific is if you can make large amounts of money very quickly, as you can essentially, or you’re selling a piece of paper or you’re selling. Resumé. Right. So, yeah, you’re selling a relationship. The more I studied it, having come from investment banking or derivative valuation. The money side of that turned me off to greed. And that’s what I realized was to challenge with the recruitment industry in the way I viewed it was all recruiters were stripy suits, point issues, and tell you lies. So that’s very much a generalization. But that was the opportunity. If you think about it from my perspective, I realize that everyone is going distraction. And the more I chatted with companies, the more I realized as they have a need, but they just don’t they don’t want to give their business to these people. So my idea really was to come in and just be ethical and general, see what you say you will do, and call when you say you will. And it’s amazing in any sales profession is and just behaving ethically and acting as a kind of trusted consultant instead of constantly going for the sale and being motivated by greed and not delivering value. And that really was the opportunity. So I reached the conclusion that I was almost better off not going working for a large agency because then I would be poisoned with the process. If you know what I mean, that you’re churning out resume is and you’re busy trying to under pressure to make things happen. I wanted things to grow organically. And I was quite patient about doing things the right way and focusing on long term business to do a little bit of a cliche. But there aren’t too many recruiters who recruitment agencies who are genuinely focused on a long term business deals with Saddam are under pressure from metrics. Monthly targets. And they know if they don’t hit their target, the Dehra out of the game. So they don’t they push a square peg into a round hole. And guess what? It doesn’t work out. And then it’s hard to get your money back from a lot of agencies if you don’t deliver value. So I started putting that on my contracts. I started standing over them for six months. And then even if something happened in the first 12 months, I was actually giving credit notes to my clients. So I was basically addressing the problems that I was learning about from chatting with my clients and prospects. 

Ben Aston

That’s cool. And so how much of the business, from a revenue perspective at least comes from the website vs. how much comes from the recruitment placements? 

Ruairi Spillane

It’s about 50/50, so Pre-COVID we’re tracking at around a million dollars in revenues and it was about 50/50. So the idea for me, Fendi advertising revenue was split into two proportion. About 50 percent of that thing, again, was down to affiliates. So it’s basically more of a content play. And then half of that advertising revenue was actually based on campaigns. So digital campaigns for clients. 

Ben Aston

And so how has that changed over the years? I mean, in terms of back when you started, you had this idea of it being a recruitment kind of play through the medium of Web site or community. So how’s that evolution? What’s the evolution look like over the years? 

Ruairi Spillane

It’s always in terms of like revenues as a whole. We’ve typically grown by about 34, 40 percent year on year since 2012, which has been great. It’s less recruitment was always the recruitment is definitely less of the overall mix. Now, we’ve developed our sophistication and the advertising component has grown considerably in recent years. So between 2012 and 2014, I would say 70, 80 percent of my income was focused on recruitment, whereas now we’re getting to a point where it’s roughly 50/50. But I expect the advertising mix to continually expand. Now as we’ve developed to nurture these relationships over a longer period. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. So it’s almost like you have two businesses in one. I think it’s a pretty fascinating business model. And I’m interested in what you think. If you were to do it all over again, this journey from 2008, I guess, to where we are today. What’s key said your biggest grew up. The biggest mistake that you’ve made is maybe something that you’d do differently had you have the chance to do it all over again. 

Ruairi Spillane

I guess it’s very easy in hindsight to say I think I’m just not aiming big enough for having more confidence in your ability. But I guess it’s tough. But one of the biggest Joe screw-ups or changes that I had to make in my business was officially or initially the recruitment part was under to Moving2Canada brand. So I basically had an employment agency called Moving to Canada Recruitment. So when oil prices crashed in 2014 and the Canadian economy had wobbled considerably. Temporary foreign workers or international workers were the no longer flavor of the month because there was mass unemployment in Alberta and the old inter prairie provinces. So I think the kind of lesson for me was I should have just created a longer-term brand that could focus on local and international talent because I found myself dealing with more and more local Canadians. But didn’t you’re always confused by the Moving 2Canada brand? So I think for me, I think the lesson in that would be it’s always better to kind of build a standalone brand and of thinking bigger than you actually think you can achieve. Right. Because after 2 years after two years in business, I had to rebrand the employment agency. So that created a bit of a headache, right. Where if I think if I dreamt a little bit bigger, I could have realized here, let’s make this a stand-alone brand because I do want to work with Canadians and I want to work with international workers as well. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. So let’s talk about your team that manages to move to Canada. Can you tell me who is in your team now and how you structure it? 

Ruairi Spillane

Sure. So we have a team of four people. So in terms of the recruitment that’s dealt with primarily by myself and I have one other recruiter. And then on to moving to Canada site, we are blessed are two very flexible employees. So I have an editor and product manager and then we have a content developer/social media/marketing person. So we have a very small but nimble team. So I guess the challenge for us. My initial goal was always to have a small, manageable business. I have had a larger team, but I found it very difficult to manage a team. We were up to 11 at one point and I found it very, very difficult to manage a team remotely and dealing in the post-COVID world. I just found it was easier to work with a more simple model. 

Ben Aston

So you’ve got people in your team, your small Web team. It kind of they’re all wearing multiple hats. So how did you find these people who had this kind of range of skills? Did you hire them, as you know, through your own Moving2Canada platform or Did you specifically think, okay, I’m going to hire an editor somewhere? 

Ruairi Spillane

My first employee, Hugo, actually approached me when I launched Moving2Canada. I had an article in the national newspaper in Ireland and basically he approached me. He was living in Montreal. This is back in 2012. He was living in Montreal. And he sent me a very polite e-mail asking why Montreal wasn’t covered as a destination on and I’m Moving to Canada platform. So why had I six cities covered, but not Montreal? So Hugo ended up I basically told him I said I’d love to add it, but I don’t have money to pay people or hurry people so hugely. So it worked pretty much as a volunteer initially. So he was very passionate about the product and us kind of worked through it. I was at a point where I was there. Look, I know revenue and I said I’d love to get this done, but it’ll probably be three or four months. And Hugo actually volunteered and said that he said basically he was happy to come to work for a very small amount and then on the hope that it could grow into something. So basically, I hired Hugo full time, I believe, in 2013. And so he’s he left for two years because I couldn’t sponsor him. He wanted to stay in Canada and I wasn’t large enough to sponsor him. So he went to work for an immigration firm. So he developed a lot of content or a lot of skills and expertise over a tree year. Period, when a large immigration firm, then my other content developer, was actually hired internally to moving to Canada. So again, they had worked with an immigration firm and very diverse backgrounds. So we hired Dane last year when we were looking to expand beyond or expand our content to video audio. And so we really needed somebody who takes in, takes audio and video. So Dane has a background in drama and had to work for an immigration firm. And it was a bonus that he was Canadian as well. I always felt bad does hiring predominantly immigrants for the journey. So we wanted to balance things. And then I guess when it came to hiring a recruiter last year to expand the outpost recruitment brand, I ended up hiring an immigrant who had kind of been true to the journey of adapting to Canada. And I basically hired somebody who had never worked with an agency again. So Maria was hired because basically it was more so being curious and being willing to talk to people and having adapted to multiple roles in Canada. So I saw that as the critical skills that I needed to be reordered and I could choose a recruiter. 

Ben Aston

Right. So in terms of in those early days, you talked about how you weren’t able to pay people very much or a tool. Were you offering equity at that point or where was it just kind of, hey, you know, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours kind of thing? 

Ruairi Spillane

It was more so the latter. It was just a case of making it work. I was very lucky. And Hugo was clearly very passionate about the project and said, hey, I want to be involved. Way to make things work. Right. And now we fast forward eight years later this year. He has equity in the company. So it was just amazing to have given that I’m a sole owner. It was amazing to actually have somebody who is passionate about the project and would develop. And yes, he’s earned equity over time because it was just great that especially I was a long, long struggle trying to bring him back. But it basically took about two and a half years for his PR process in Quebec. So I was very excited then to have him come back to the project because I just felt there was a lot of unfinished business. 

Ben Aston

That’s cool. I’m curious myself because, in my company, that isn’t an equity sharing. But I’d love to know how you if you’re happy to share it, how you have that kind of equity sharing works or how it’s earned in your company. 

Ruairi Spillane

Of course. So thankfully, we probably started discussions a few years or when he’s coming back, basically. I was keen on the table and it just came down to me allocating a percentage and just saying here, this is a reward for coming back. And for all your help in previous years, because I always felt in debt it isn’t he is passionate about the project, but having somebody who is nimble enough to get involved. Right. I don’t think equity and in the project would have made it had an impact at the time because it was worthless. Right. But then as we move forward, it’s kind of based on performance strategies and to challenges of all. As I’ve been in a few scenarios where I’ve had people offer single earn equity subject to revenue targets. But I guess the goal is you want somebody with skin in the game. So having equity targets focus on profitability is much more meaningful because then you’re going to ensure the efficiency of the company. Right. It’s one thing, growing revenues. It’s another making profit. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, definitely. And so let’s talk about your stack, your tech stack in terms of the site that you’ve built. When you started out, did you build your own WordPress? Was that you who built it? Or I’d love to know what you’re using now and how that’s evolved over the years. 

Ruairi Spillane

Sure. It’s always been WordPress. I didn’t I’ve never had Web development skills, but I was actually a work colleague, so I knew one of my colleagues at work could build a WordPress Web site. So the initial moving to Vancouver is initially called was a very basic page. I think it was about 10 pages under. We continue to use WordPress CMS to this day did in terms of other technologies. We use campaign monitor for email and marketing primarily because it’s superior for segmenting content. We set up a lot of automated journeys that have a lot of segmentation depending on the to profile the data points we have under user. And we use Salesforce as our CRM. It’s connected and a customized CRM that accounts for recruitment as well. And we’re using Google Ad Manager on to manage our inventory. 

Ben Aston

I’m surprised to hear you say use using Salesforce because that’s a pricy tool, isn’t it? 

Ruairi Spillane

It is. You’re not the first person to point that out. The choice of the tool was influenced by a colleague who could customize Salesforce. So I went looking at it. I basically looked at a few ATS systems or applicant tracking systems for recruitment. And I wasn’t very impressed. And I knew I needed a CRM for the data for the Moving2Canada site as well. So I went with the choice of customizing a CRM and at the time my head was a separate work colleague. But basically she had a lot of expertise in customizing. So it was okay when you needed only one or two licenses. But then as the business grew. But it seems Salesforce was a lot more popular or wasn’t a lot more credible. Five years ago. And it’s kind of considered very mainstream and expensive right now. Right. Because but five, six years ago when I had to implement a CRM, Salesforce was kind of just one of many choices. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, that’s cool. So I want to talk about the process in the way that you produce and publish content. Right at the beginning, you talked about how it started off. This was just a page of notes in the Facebook group that’s obviously now grown into a whole website that’s getting hundreds of thousands of views every month. How what does your content strategy look like? And how do you what’s your process of creating and publishing content? 

Ruairi Spillane

Sure. So I always figured with content you’ll eventually, Pete, I’ll have all of these problems solved for the process of moving to Canada. It becomes a bit of an endless journey right to the point where now we have so much content that we’re trying to build a tool that links together. But I’ll come back to that later. In terms of the day, two days, and I have two content developers, so a lot of our ideas, and we have a very specific roadmap, as in the things you want to do, things you want to get to. But a lot of it comes from our Facebook forums, from queries, and we’ve acquired a reputation as being a first for immigration news. Immigration is just one component of the content, but we generally see it as the hook for getting people into Moving2Canada. So obviously, it’s the area that we can. It’s the biggest problem that we can solve for the user. And we find once we find them early in immigration journey, we’ll stay right with moving to Canada all the ways to deal, making the move even afterward pure and even applying for citizenship, as I mentioned earlier. So a lot of it really comes down to in terms of content. We sit down quarterly to actually figure out what problems do a lot of SEO so fine-tuning existing content and new content ideas. And I guess a lot of our focus now is and we all feel that you’ll never get to that 100 percent point, but we feel we’re very happy that we solved a lot of the problems for the users now. So incidentally, our content guys are essentially building a product that can key and all of the components of the move. So we’re basically building a tool to wrap all the content together for the user. 

Ben Aston

Nice. And so in terms of that content strategy, just to dig into that SEO optimization part of it. So are you originally when you kind of created this content plan, was it all based on search volumes, and that kind of dictates your priority, or how do you decide what to write about? 

Ruairi Spillane

Yes, so we use, Mangools as a tool just too obviously we look at high ranking competitive sites. But a lot of it really comes to, I guess, not shoehorning for our popular search terms, but we’re also trying to find figure out the relevancy. Right. Obviously, the choice of domain for us is in the moving to was to Moving to Canada wasn’t available at the time. So I decided we played with putting the numerical two and We realize that kind of breaks up to two words perfectly, so that really helped us because obviously moving to Canada was the key driver for us in terms of traffic. But it’s a little bit of looking at the demand side. But mainly we’re kind of looking at what the problems we need to we don’t have the guys don’t have content targets. We more so focus on how important the content is to our user. And we typically measure that as in if we see if we listen in social media and we see topics being talked about constantly or we see people sending us questions, we invite a lot of feedback from our audience. There is a constant kind of let us know what you think kind of out there. And so it’s mainly driven on where we feel we need to go, as well as strategically because we do focus a lot of our content. No focus. About 30 percent of our traffic comes from India. But a lot of our we focus a lot of our content strategies on developing traffic for other countries, other specific regions as well. When we listen to our advertising clients as well. 

Ben Aston

And so then you’re using Mangools, too. That’s why you’re trying to find keywords. You’re sourcing content ideas from your community and what you see people talking about. And then in terms of that process of creating that backlog of content. Are you managing then the production of it through Trello or some other project management tool? Or how do you can you get content out the door?

Ruairi Spillane

So we use Asana as our own internal project management tool. In terms of how we get it out the door and it’s all done in-house primarily. So basically, I have two salaried employees, but the content isn’t their primary function. Right for Hugo, for example, is an overall editor, is also involved in the product, my product manager as well. So these guys wear many hats. And I think you can come to strategy is we focus on what’s critical for each quarter. And it’s a lot of it is just adding things that a roadmap and then on the quarterly on a quarterly basis, we can sit down and we figure out right just in these 10 articles we’re gonna get done in this quarter. And then a lot of it, as you said, is just having it, having a space to add new ideas and prioritize and discuss them on a monthly basis. 

Ben Aston

Do you know how much it costs you to produce content, do track, that’s all? 

Ruairi Spillane

No, we don’t have a specific metric. So beyond the two salaries and some of the technology, that would be the best proxy I could use. So it’s probably something I should look into. 

Ben Aston

And so then I’m guessing you didn’t specifically calculate an ROI on the content you produce? 

Ruairi Spillane

No, because the challenge for us is in some of the content obviously is created for Outpost as well. And it’s even very because we’re free website, probably be a lot easier if you’re a subscriber website and you can kind of a sign of value to each kind of user. So given we’re a free web site we just find is very tiered levels of users and in the revenue potential of each user is in very, very different. So we can do specific proxy’s writers and you can measure. You can divide your overall revenue by the number of users who are unique users or sessions or just to get a general proxy. But we can find as we look at that number and it’s kind of hard to know what it means without digging in the different tiers. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, definitely. Cool. Well, thanks for sharing those insights on content. I’m wondering if you can share a bit about your goals for Moving2Canada, and Outpost for the next year. You kind of touched on that product to the developing. But what’s on your roadmap? 

Ruairi Spillane

Sure. So for specifically for this quarter and we’re really focusing on fleshing out our interactive tool, which is moving to kind of the goal. I alluded to that earlier, essentially moving to move to kind of the goal is it’s a tool that just wraps all of the content, whether it’s audiovisual or articles. We’re also building some kind of calculation tools for budgeting the cost of your move and different angles like that. So similar to Trello or Asana, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to break the overall move of our overall relocation process into all of the relevant tasks, using the jobs to be done methodology. And then we can assign timelines. You can actually create a calendar. You can actually create calendar invites for each thing just to help people manage things on a specific timeline in terms of prioritizing the tasks, researching each of us. Because you may recall, it’s a little bit ahead for trying to think of all of the aspects that you need to manage to make the move to Canada happens. So we just wanted to break it down and simplified for the user based on each year of insights at this point understanding the emotion associated with each task and trying to help handhold people because the ideas and there are agencies out there that will charge you to do it, do it, fill out the forms and deliver a service. But we’re really focusing on the user who wants to impart themselves and actually self learn and develop a skill set because I think there’s a lot of satisfaction in terms of being in control of the move and not being at the mercy of an agency. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, definitely. And a vaunts toughie. What are your biggest challenges? I mean, it sounds like wrapping this content around this kind of user journey is an interesting way of kind of pivoting or providing additional value to users. But what was tactically or strategically tough for you right now? 

Ruairi Spillane

Well, there are probably multiple, multiple answers there, but it wasn’t one of the initiatives that are obviously trying to make your users sticky. It is the goal of every product or service. Right. So we’re really trying to develop more multimedia content in terms of educational email journeys. We’re starting to do live streams at the moment. So but I think the overriding thing when you ask what’s tough is selling digital media is tough. A lot of brands are now in a space where they have you know, they have AdWords, they have Facebook, and they’re really trying to figure out, well, what can you really bring to the game? And I think a lot of brands see multicultural marketing as putting an Indian guy and an Asian lady next to him on a billboard. Right. And what we’re really trying to push is that you know, multicultural marketing should really start with becoming part of that journey. And that’s the kind of unique value proposition that we can offer to people. And when you look at the verticals in Canada’s banking sector, do they really understand the value of winning a new commerce business before they arrive? And we find ourselves doing a lot of educating, a lot of large Canadian brands and the value of trying to get involved a little bit early. One of the marketing managers of a leading Canadian bank is and the film we use this called a lot. But he said if we wait till they arrive, we lose the game. So the concept there was this as a bank, and I remembered as when I arrived first as well as and I became a BMO customer purely because the BMO branch was down the stairs from my office. So work told me just said, did you want to get paid on Friday. I said sure. And then they said, well there is a bank down there, you can set up an account. So the idea for us is for we think there is a huge opportunity for Canadian brands to become more involved in the moving process and not just sit there and rely on multi-market multicultural marketing campaigns in Canada because it’s often too late to win their allegiance at that point. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, yeah. And people are unlikely to transition for the free iPad mini that they’re offered, right? 

Ruairi Spillane

Exactly. And it was like Scotiabank I’ve been a customer for probably seven or eight years. But I’d go to these newcomer welcome sessions. So it has heard the Irish community and I remember I meet them there and I say my pitch to them really was I asked him, I said, why are you here? Why are three of you paid to be here in your evening time? You said every one of these people got a bank account in the first three days and didn’t do and do it kind of like this a-ha moment and I was like, wouldn’t you like to try and win them over before? And said, you can’t unless you want to be at the airport and welcome them. I know CIBC is doing that right now. But the idea for us is we can help these brands to actually do you know, first of all, you want to create awareness, but you can also build that relationship by being associated with the journey. It’s a very emotional journey of moving to Canada. Right. And generally, you and I may have come for a year or two. Initially, we didn’t realize. You don’t realize you’re a long term immigrant at the time, but especially winter is long term immigrants. It’s a very emotional journey that often takes you to know, it can be 12 to 18 months trying to put all of those parts together. So we’re offering these brands the opportunity to become part of the journey and develop or have access to a brand new potential lifelong customer. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. So I think that that advice of thinking, thinking through that user journey and providing value and then thinking about the monetization as part of that, not the be-all and end-all. I think it’s super valuable. But for someone at the beginning of their digital media journey, maybe they’re starting at a community or a Web site. Can you give one piece of advice that you think maybe you tell yourself back at the beginning if you do again? But was one thing that you. Maybe has been super impactful or useful that the listeners could take away and then apply. 

Ruairi Spillane

It would be to follow your passion and not the money is. And I. I realized when I think back in my career as an I studied business. I absolutely loved entrepreneurship. I was so excited by my marketing modules and then living in Ireland. We did a strong financial services industry and it was considered more of a safe thing. And my parents were like our two even family friends. And your brother is going to tell you. He marketings. It’s such a hard space to get into, you know, finance and accounting are much safer. So that was the biggest. When you think back, that’s where it started going wrong for me. Right. As I worked in finance for five years before I got older and started following my passion for as old as passionate about entrepreneurship. I just loved learning about marketing. And I realized that I would be far happier with less money doing something that I love. And I realized between 2012 and 2014, I had very little money to my name. I was living from Check to Check. But I was I just realized that I was far happier overall with my sense of well-being and what I was doing in life. So I think that’s one the challenge is a lot of businesses have is and everyone kind of goes it. That’s a great idea. But what’s your revenue model? Sometimes you just need to try and solve a problem for an audience. And Joan, my idea was I know I’m solving a problem. It might take me three or four years to build enough traffic to have an advertising business, but I’ll figure out something to make things work in the interim, and I’ll just be patient and build an audience for all the right reasons. I had a lot of competitors in the space. Everything kind of goes, Oh, that’s a great idea. I was going to do that. But so many of them haven’t figured out how to monetize it because or monetize it successfully because they’re trying to monetize it from the start. And my biggest kind of advice is just to add value and follow your passion. And it was a real slow burner of a business, but it got there in the end. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. And I have one of those Web sites, those competitions. I started the Vancouver Mover back in twenty, I guess, 2011 when I was moving to Vancouver. It’s funny that I had almost exactly the same idea. You had a much more, well thought out strategy about how you’re going to monetize it. But yeah. The VancouverMover.com. Yeah, I gave up on it very quickly, but it’s there. And actually it did rank for how to call the UK from Canada or something like that, like a really obscure term. It ranks quite well for a while. But yeah, that was my project for I had it was back in 2012 actually My plan was I’m going to build 12 Web sites in 12 months, so I’m gonna have 12 projects. And this was one of my projects. And then I realized that actually building the website isn’t that isn’t the challenge. It’s the building, the content, and the community. Anyone can build 12 websites and in 12 months. But anyway, The Digital Project Manager was also one of those websites back in 2012 that I started work on, and that became the catalyst for what I’m doing now. So, yeah, it’s definitely worth kicking the can on a few things, seeing what you’re passionate about. And I love what you’re talking about, you know, following something that, you know, you’re going to have to hustle. You have to work hard at this. So when you’re not making money, you still need to be interested in it. So thanks for that advice and thanks for joining us today. It’s been great having you with us. 

Ruairi Spillane

Perfect. Thanks for having me on. 

Ben Aston

If you like what you heard today, please subscribe and stay in touch on IndieMedia.Club. But until next time. Thanks so much for listening.

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