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How To Build The World’s Biggest Cycling Tech Blog (with Tyler Benedict from Bike Rumor)

Tyler’s the founder of the world’s largest cycling tech blog and the Peak Content Summit. In this episode, he tells the story of his entrepreneurial journey and what it took to get there.

We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.

Audio Transcription:

Ben Aston

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

Today, I’m joined by Tyler Benedict. Tyler is the founder and editor of bikerumor.com. And that is the world’s largest cycling technology. But that is not all. He’s also the founder of the Peak Content Summit and the host of the Build Cycle podcast. He’s worked in advertising and even launched his own beverage company, Hi Tyler. Thanks for joining us today. 

Tyler Benedict

Thanks for having me. 

Ben Aston

So I want to dig a bit into your story because I think it’s quite interesting how you went from working in advertising, launching your own beverage company. You decided that was a good idea and then transitioning into, you know, being a media entrepreneur with bikerumor.com. Can you tell us a bit about that story, how you transitioned through that? I know you did journalism right at university. Yeah. Tell us a bit about that story. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, sure. So my dad started an ad agency the year I was born back in 74. And so growing up, I would just hear the stories of whatever was going on there. There were other dinner tables and then in high school, I would, you know, went in and helped out a little bit in the summers and stuff and gradually took out a little more responsibility. You know, each year I learn a few new skills and. Kind of saw a lot of the inner workings, so, you know, for better or worse. I kind of know how to do a lot of different stuff, including like all the graphics and I know the Adobe programs and everything. So I end up getting caught up doing a lot of that, such as because I know how to as opposed to delegating it like I probably should. But you learn a lot when you’re hands-on and someone in your family is doing and talking about it for all of your life, basically. And so when I went to school as you said, I have a degree in journalism. And it was just one of those things where I never actually thought I would use it. I was just kind of too far along to switch again, even though it was pretty clear I was not really into it. Like my grades were barely passable to the point where I got out of there and that was the end of that. Or so I thought. All right. But, you know, with my background, I went to work for an agency in Charlotte. Basically, when I was done with college, I wanted to get out of Florida for a little walk that lived there my entire life. And. Worked at an agency there and really didn’t care for it. My dad offered me a job back in Florida, so I moved back down and was working for him. And honestly, just bringing down morale at the office because it was pretty clear I didn’t want to be there either. And around that time, 

Ben Aston

Why didn’t you want to be there? 

Tyler Benedict

You know, it’s just I mean, when you’re something’s just not right for you, it’s you just it’s hard for me to fake it. Like, I can’t really get excited about something I don’t want to be doing for very long. You know, a couple of days. Sure. But yeah, day after day, we have to. Week, month, or month. Absolutely not. And at that point, though, I was doing both a mix of the graphics, like filling in whenever there was an overload, but also trying to do more accounting Slack work and working with clients. And one of the clients we had was this group of doctors that had created this vitamin subplot line. And I started asking them how they came up with it is like where you guys formulating, how are you get agreements and batching and mixing. They’re like Tyler. No, no. That’s not how this works. We just came up with a formula and sent it off to a lab somewhere, and they make it for us. And I’m like, my mind was blown and my eyes were open. And it’s like, well, hold up. So I was doing a lot of mountain bike riding and going to some races at the time and saw two athletes either watering down Coke or Mountain Dew or letting it go flat so they could get kind of that sugar caffeine rush without the carbonation that was, you know, would mess up your stomach in the middle of a race. And you ask around and see like there was actually a lot of people doing this. I realized what people wanted was something mild and something caffeinated. And but they also really needed like the electrolytes in a normal sports drink stuff. So I just kind of combine that and do a sports drink that at the time was the first and only one with no citric acid and a little bit of caffeine. So super mild gave you a little boost and some trademark stuff worked in my favor to where I was able to sell the original name to a very, very large company for a few hundred thousand dollars. Well, actually, like just under two hundred thousand. 

Tyler Benedict

And that was like the money I needed to go off and quit working for my dad and start this thing for real. And that happened only like a couple of months after I launched it. So at that point. Wow. You know, it just took off. My wife and I literally traveled around the country going to different Mt. biking triathlon races to sample and sell the product and burn through all of that money very quickly and then just kind of like plugged along with it for a little bit. And about two and a half years in is when the whole energy drink craze started blowing up. The Red Bull had come into the US a little bit ago and started making its way over the East Coast. And Coke had one. Pepsi had one monster was our Hansons beverage was still doing like Hanssens Energy. This was a pre monster. And we saw a lot of opportunities, potential opportunity, as did about a thousand other entrepreneurs. And because the margins on energy drinks are just ridiculous. And so, so many people then and we did, too, and we kind of toiling away at that for about six and half years, which was, you know, like six and half times longer than any other startup lasted for the most part. But, you know, here we were, this bootstrapped friends and family investment beverage company competing against billion-dollar monsters like Monster and Red Bull and Coke and Pepsi, who would basically just buy all the shelf space in the store so that we would have nowhere to sell our product. And, you know, that’s. That’s how they compete. That’s how that game works. 

Tyler Benedict

And, you know, eventually, after six and half years of being are heading us along, losing money, we kind of figured this isn’t really going to work out. So at that point, I’d been on my own for eight years, you know, like self-employed for eight years. And there’s no way I was going back to any kind of corporate job and working for anyone. And I just started looking around at things. And I still a big avid cyclist. And one of the Web sites I really, really liked was Engadget, which is the tech blog and one of the largest tech blogs in the world. And what I liked about it is it was just this rapid-fire stream of all the new stuff. You know you didn’t have to read big stories. You could just skim through fines that you like, click it boom, and just learn about that one product or new technology or whatever. And there was nothing like that in the bike space. Everything was really focused on racing news and athlete news and event coverage and, you know, like a couple of little product announcements scattered here and there. But you kind of had to dig forum and there wasn’t one I cared about. All I really cared about was how can I make my bike faster and lighter so that I don’t have to train. And the short of it is I was like, well, huh, OK, let’s just I’m just going to start a site and see what happens. And I paid somebody to. You create a WordPress site for me like I did the design and I said, this is what I want to do. And they’re like, oh, you need a WordPress site. OK, great. So they built it and we just started. I say we just started posting to it every day, you know, as much stuff as I could find and started getting traffic. And then we started running Google ads on it and then started making a little bit of money and SEO. Then you slowly get a little bit better ad network and a little bit better one. And you build your little waterfall stack of ad networks. And, you know, before you know it, we’re making enough money to live on, which, you know, it took about two and half years to be able to live off of what was coming in from Bike Rumor ad revenue. And people started asking us to review some products. 

Tyler Benedict

And then we started getting invited to a couple of press launches here and there. And so it’s just kind of like scale and scope and scale. And now I’ve got a team of two other guys full time, another girl that’s on contract for slightly more than half time. And then, you know, a handful of other freelancers scattered around the world that just help us kind of keep the daily content flow going. 

Ben Aston

Nice. And so I’m interested in those early days. And this was back in 2008. Is that right, when you started Bike Rumor? Yes. So on the day one way, you were like, hey, I’m going to start Engadget but within the bike world. Did you have at that point, were you thinking, hang on to try and turn this into a business or we just. Was it just for fun at that point? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. It was designed to be a business from day one. And it was designed to be a business that did not necessarily require me to be a part of the business like that was I could say I had at least enough right to build it to where it did not depend on me. I mean, of course, it did at the beginning because I was the only one producing content. But that’s for almost twelve years later to today. And I produce almost none of the daily content. I focused more on big feature stories and special projects. But back then, yeah, it was I was taking it seriously. I went down SEO. Right. Like basically all day. Like, if something popped up and I thought it was interesting, it could be eleven-thirty at night. I was about to go to bed and I got to write the story and just I think that’s what really helped it grow and kind of create an a, a following because people knew that OK, whatever’s new is going to be on Bike Rumor. And that’s sort of the right issue that we have now, is it’s we’re gonna if we want to see everything that’s new, it’s gonna be on Bike Rumor, where that’s the place we’re going to go. 

Ben Aston

And so on day one, you got someone to create this website for you in WordPress. And you just started generating content. Obviously, at that point, you didn’t really have any relationship. Or maybe you did with cycling like tech companies, people who are producing bike stuff. How did you set yourself up as a reputable source to try and attract that kind of engagement with the brands? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, well, I had a couple because when we were doing the mountain biking with the energy drink, we had like our little that was called Burn energy drink. So we had the Burn energy drink Mount Bike team and sponsored a couple of riders here and there. I mean, it’s all like grassroots level stuff, like no big names. But, you know, we had bike equipment and component sponsors for that. So I knew some people in the bike industry. And then from just going around to all the events to do sampling and stuff, but it’s lost literally like a handful of people. So now you just reach out to them. And I basically just started, you know, is kind of skimming all the other bike Web sites to see if there are any new product announcements because they did have the relationships. And then I would just you know, if I saw a new bike, I’d go to the brand’s website and pull the images and the info. 

Tyler Benedict

And, you know, to be totally honest. We pulled some images and info from competing sites back in the day when I had no idea what is doing and pissed the few people off. You know, like we were totally taking content from places we shouldn’t have. Yeah. So people didn’t mind if we link back to them and other people definitely did mind. Let us know and know in clear terms that we should not be doing that. 

Ben Aston

Did you get any cease and desists?

Tyler Benedict

We got some of those and we got us. I said we–Me in particular, you know, like I got reamed pretty hard on social media for a little while and it took a long time to rebuild some relationships. And there’s you know, there’s still a couple of brands that even though this was literally like eight and nine years ago when this happened, there are still some brands that just don’t send us any press releases. And we just never had a relationship with them since then. But, you know, I think for us, it was just immature, stupid beginner mistakes that we’ve definitely learned from and, you know, progressed from quite a bit to where, you know, like our content nowadays is just stellar and it’s virtually all original. I mean, even when we got a press release from our brand, we typically go above and beyond to create a pretty sorry to put it into context and explain the product in more detail than what was just, you know, the copying bullet points. But to go back to your question. Yeah. Yeah. It was. It was definitely an intentional business that I started, it was not a hobby. So when I started in July of 2008, the first major trade show was after that was her bike, which is always in the fall. And I bought plane tickets and booked a hotel and went covered in just sort of walking around, introducing myself to all the brands and asking them what was new and taking pictures and posting stories. And, you know, I think that doing that for a few shows over that first couple of years and people seeing my face, you know, at the Next show and then the next show and then seeing their stuff covered on our site and, you know, was like a lot of times you would reach out to them afterward, like, hey, I just thanks for the info. Just cover your thing and here’s the link and just shown up. I think it was just the consistency of being there and actually taking the time and energy to go to these events and talk to them about the products and cover their brand is what gave us a start.

Ben Aston

And so when you were kind of thinking about your content strategy at that point, obviously, I guess some of the content is evergreen, but it is very more. You mean even the name of the site by rumor kind of alludes to the fact that this is the latest and greatest in the world of cycling and bikes. So how did you kind of balance that or how did your content strategy evolve? Was it just hang on or write about cycling tech? Or what? Because it’s I think it’s tempting at the beginning, isn’t it, to life. Right. A bit about everything. But I wonder how kind of focused you. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. That’s the that was it. Like at the beginning we were not focused. Right. Like we would cover advocacy and try to cover some industry news. And of course all the products and everything. And then, you know, like, I would literally sit in front of the TV and try and force myself to watch the Tour de France. I mean, of all bike races, if you want to watch an event, you watch the Tour de France and. I just couldn’t do it as I would so much rather have been out actually riding my bike. And so, like, I realized pretty quickly, like, OK. Is the advocacy news as important as it is, it doesn’t get any traffic. And I’m not really going to try and compete with the trade publications that are talking about who’s getting hired at this position at this company. And there are 20 other Web sites out there that do amazing event coverage that either has people on the ground at these events or have networks of photo demographers or whatever. Why am I sitting in front of the TV for four or five hours on a weekend when it’s a beautiful day outside trying to write a crappy story about that day’s stage when other people are doing it way better? And I don’t even care. Right. So it was you don’t want to read about. You don’t read a story about something from somebody who’s really not that interested in it because it’s going to be a terrible story. So I was like out for you what day? But it was, you know, a couple of years into this. By that time, I had Zach on board. He’s my right-hand man. We just said, look, this we’re just going to stop posting all this other stuff. If it’s sort of important, we’re gonna do our Friday roundup, a bullet point list of all the other stuff that’s going on in the industry that’s worth mentioning. But the day to day, we’re just going to focus on the products and the tech and our reviews of those products and tech. And once we did that, as we enjoyed ourselves a lot more, we got way better a traffic spike. People were more engaged. That was what it was: when we found our niche and really focused on that, what we were really good at, that’s when things just started blowing up.

Ben Aston

Yeah, I mean, you talked about your traffic growing, and in those early stages, how did you build your audience? I think it was a bit different 12 years ago. But in those early stages, you know, you created a WordPress site each time creating content. How did you get any traffic and how long was it before you started getting traffic? Then how did you kind of leverage that? 

Tyler Benedict

It’s funny, man. Like, if you look at our growth, it will mimic a bunch of other sites from that era in that whether they had been established or new or not. Right. Like, so to answer this in a couple of ways. And basically, it’s all organic. All of our traffic is organic. We don’t pay to promote. We don’t run any kind of like content recommendation things anywhere else. So it’s we auto post when we publish on the story at Auto Post the headline image and link to Facebook and Twitter. So the vast majority of our social media content is simply these other reposts of our headlines and a link to the stories. And that drives some traffic. It used to drive a lot more. It’s but we’re really good at writing good headlines and doing the proper keyword and tagging and just writing good content that ranks, well, like it’s very easily searchable. So the chances of you finding one of our stories when you’re searching for something on anything we’ve covered is really high. And about a third or slightly more of our traffic comes from organic search results, which is something I’m really proud of. Because if you look at the inbound organic reach from social. It just keeps getting smaller and smaller. I mean, it’s like one percent or lower nowadays. 

Tyler Benedict

But back in the day, the good old days, as I like to say, you know, when Facebook was trying to encourage everybody to use Facebook as the source for everything and get all your news from Facebook, they would do a lot to promote publisher content. But no charge. And you can literally watch our Google Analytics growth chart, along with any other site that’s willing to share that information with you. And you can see the same exact growth pattern. We literally doubled our traffic. Year after year after year after year. And our highest was at one point it was like four and a half million monthly page views, which for a niche cycling tech site is, I think, pretty good. And then Facebook started charging, and that’s when that was the peak. Right. And then it starts going down. And then that organic traffic from social has just continued to diminish. So we’ve had to do other things. But so we were fortunate in that we started before Facebook started promoting and took advantage of, you know, that riding that wave. But nowadays, it’s you can’t count on that unless you’re selling something and driving people to your site. For this express purpose of selling something where you can say, okay, my customer acquisition cost is X, but I know they’re going to come and buy and I’ll make three times X. But when you’re just relying, you know, for pure media site that’s relying on ad revenue, you can’t do that kind of arbitrage. To get page views so you really just have to write really good content.

Ben Aston

Yeah, and back in the day in 2008, when you were writing content, I mean, you’re talking now about you write really good type titles. You write really good content. You’re obviously using now insights from I don’t know what tools you use. And we’ll talk about that in a minute. But back in 2008, were you thinking about on-page SEO like that? Because I know my experiences. Back in 2011, when I started the Digital Project Manager Science, I wasn’t really thinking about SEO at all. I was just writing about the subject matter. So were you there that engaged in SEO at that point? 

Tyler Benedict

No, not really. It was I think we lucked out with that whole Facebook traffic referral wave and then had to start out the rest of it pretty quickly. And so it’s probably only been in the last like. Four years, maybe five, that we’ve put a strong focus on doing better. Now that said, one of the things we did early on, basically right away was renamed the images. I can’t tell you how many other sites, probably still the. If they get their photos in from their cameras, I say we’re all at the same event and somebody offloads their photos. Either they’re going into some big database system that’s tagging the renaming them with some numerical code means nothing or it’s just coming off the camera and you have this like, you know, DSC10059.jpeg. Yeah. And people will sit there and just upload that. I’m like, please keep doing that. Not on my team—but everybody else please keep doing that. So we would rename are images you put in the all tags and then you just talk about what’s going on in the story good, normal human language terms. And that works wonders, right? Like, it seems obvious, but again, it’s not just organic text search, it’s image search. If you search for an image for something that we’ve covered, the chances of one of our images being up near the top are super high because we’ve taken those extra five seconds to name or image files, you know, something relevant to whatever is in the picture, right?

Ben Aston

Yeah. No, I think it’s interesting how many people are lazy about that. And it does make a massive difference. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Right. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, you told us about Facebook being a massive driver of traffic in the early days. And I mean, they talk about organic traffic being 30 percent. So where’s the rest of the traffic coming from us than direct. 

Tyler Benedict

A lot of it? Yeah. About another third plus a little bit is direct. And I think between organic search and direct, it’s like 70 percent of our traffic. And then I think all of society is social referrals is somewhere around like five to seven percent on any given day. And then the rest is just like other, you know, just random stuff. 

Ben Aston

Right. Yeah. And so in terms of, you know, you talked about social being a big driver in those early days. And you talked about, you know, hitting your peak. What what are you finding is that is working for you now in terms of building your audience and reach. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. Huh. I wish I knew I would go to the audience. I feel like our audience has it is what it is. And. The do I know you will talk about where our growth strategy is and I can talk a little bit about that because I do see the potential for bringing on new audiences. But, you know, one of the concerns I have and it’s something we’re trying to figure out is. I feel like we’ve carried our readers along and we have a lot of the same readers that we’ve had since the beginning or, you know, for many, many years. But what we need to do really is be bringing in younger eyeballs and new faces to the site. And I’m just turned 46. You know, I realize that if I were an 18-year-old cyclist, I might not want to be hearing product reviews from a forty-six-year-old. I want to hear, OK. What do people my age and in my lifestyle think of this product? So one of the charges we have is bringing in these fresh faces to write for us and produce content. It’s it’s really hard. And I don’t know how it is for other industries, but I talked to a lot of my peers that own other websites or magazines, and we all. Kind of had the same limit. It’s like there’s not a lot of new writers and new talent coming into this field to cover the cycling industry and combine that with. The expectations nowadays, if somebody needs to come in, they need to be able to shoot their own photos, edit those photos, write good content, you know, do video post to social and do all these things, like it’s an incredible skill set that somebody needs for an industry that cannot pay very well. You know, there is not anybody producing cycling content that is getting rich. You know, it’s a total passion play. So it’s tough to get new people in. What we see is people. We see people dropping out. We see other publications in the space closing or just getting cut down to a skeleton crew. And we see the same faces bouncing from one area to the next to the next. Or, you know, they’ll go and do PR or somebody from PR or come in. It’s a lot of the same people over and over. And so it’s that’s one challenge I think all of us are facing right now for this space is bringing on that next generation of talent to write and contribute. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, I think building, building audience. I think once you’ve almost like saturated the market, I think once when you’re when you are the number one blog or site or destination, there is they know it’s the law of large numbers. There’s only so much there’s a limit. Right, to the extent of the potential reach of that segment. So it will have its peak. And, you know, I guess that’s normal. There are only so many people who are interested in bike technology. Right. No matter how you know, what you write about unless you kind of you expand the domain of the. The Website and I know that you’ve tried over the years to stop other things, actually found ebike Kareema as well. The stuff is that is not a new one. 

Tyler Benedict

It’s recent. And it’s one of those experiments that I wish we hadn’t done. It was something we argued about a lot internally. I wanted to do just fold all of the coverage into the main site. But some of the Zoom my team really wanted a separate site because at that time and this was a couple of years ago now, you know, if you every time we posted any kind of new bike on bike rumor, there was just a ton of backlash. All the commoners like, stop posting bikes, you’re stupid. We don’t want these bikes are ruined and everything. And fast forward today and nobody cares. People are like, yeah, your bikes are red. And like you, I thought if you really thought this through, that was going to be that was a logical conclusion. Right. This is where it’s headed. Bikes are going to be bikes. A lot of them are. There’s still gonna be regular bikes, but your bikes are gonna be a normal part of the conversation. And sure enough, that’s all we are. So now we have this other site that we haven’t updated in more than a year with all this orphaned content. That’s great content, but I really don’t even have ads running on that site. I mean, like maybe ad sense. So we’re making no money off of this old content. And just the task of falling into the regular bike rumor and fixing all the links is just something nobody wants to do, basically. 

Ben Aston

Right? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, that was one experiment that I think I should have just kind of put my foot down and said, no, we’re just going to fold it in and we’re gonna deal with the backlash for a few months or we’re just going to close comments on it. it’s tough, right, like that because who knew? 

Ben Aston

Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, you talk about you mentioned your monetization strategy there. How? And you talked to the beginning about in the early days, I think, using ad sense on your sites. But can you talk to us about your monetization plan? I mean, you said the ease when you started this. You thought of that as a business, right, from day one. So how do you monetize and how is that changed or evolved over the years? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. So, I mean, we’ve been trying to sell banner ads all along and it struggles all along, though. We do sell banner ads directly. And then, of course, we use all those networks in the pass up to continue today with these. So it just basically is for backfills behind whatever we sell directly. And there’s actually an interesting little side note on that. Like, to be totally honest, if we never sold another banner ad, it probably wouldn’t break my heart because it’s the amount we make on this is about the same or maybe even less sometimes than what we get from the network. And it’s just a ton of time and effort to sell them. So, you know, if any of our advertisers are listening, we’re not going to stop. And we do love it because for us, having endemic ads on our site looks better. Right? Like, I’d rather see an ad for Shimano on my Web site than I would see an ad for men’s underwear. Right. Like, it’s just there’s a better fit when the ads match what our readers are interested in. So but one of the challenges, the biggest challenges we had was trying to figure out like a paid content strategy because I’ve seen so many bad examples of it over the years from, you know, some of the top publications and websites just doing horrible advertorials and paid content and stuff. And it’s like, I see that. And I’d be like, nope, no way. We’re never doing that. And we even saw some of our competition getting just hammered for doing kind of like some unscrupulous stuff, you know, stuff leaked out about those pay to play on reviews and are like, nope, not going to do that. And so we just kind of stuck my head in the sand and said, I’m sorry, we’re just not going to do any kind of paid content. But at some point, you realize, like, okay, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table. And this is sort of one of my favorite things is how. Okay, here’s a problem. It has to be solved. What do you do? Like, you can’t do it this way in this way. So you got to do some way. And what we came up with was offering different content packages that are completely transparent in terms of what Brand is supporting it and how they’re sponsoring it and why they’re involved. But the cool thing is, is they offer tremendous value to our readers. And I’ll give you a couple of examples. We do ask a stupid question, which is kind of our version of an ask me anything. And we do reader survey contests. And the two are kind of like the flip flop of each other. So with our ask a stupid question, we post it out there, say, hey, let’s I’m just gonna use Shimano as an example. Hey, Shimano is answering your questions next week. What do you want to ask them about? Blank and we can. Kind of brings it down to a lower level topic like, let’s say Geering, audio road bike gearing. What do you want to know about road bike gearing Shimano’s gonna Answer all your questions. And so we pitched that on our site. We posted on social SEO to make sure we get enough questions and we send all those questions directly to the brand. The brand answers them since back in the graphics and pictures to help illustrate their answers. And then we posted the following week and it’s super popular. And for a couple of reasons. So the readers love it because they feel like they have access to the brands, the access that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Right. Like we’re saying. Hey, yeah, let’s. We’re gonna make sure your voices are heard now. And then the brands love it because they get to find out exactly what our readers are wondering. And that kind of information is invaluable in terms of informing future marketing efforts and then their own content. Right. And then we win because not only does the brand sponsor and we get paid, but we end up with incredible content that just drives more traffic to our site. And then the flip flop of that is the reader’s survey contest, where the brand gets to ask our readers any three or four questions. And it captures the information. It’s just a simple form. And then it catches email. So the brand gets to find out what people want or what people think about very specific topics. And also, they capture emails, add to their lists. And so we win because we get to have this contest running on our site that drives traffic that people can win something really cool. And the brand wins because they’re getting the information they want. And then also we get to charge for it. So with those two, I mean, we do some other stuff, like we’ve got some different packages and stuff that we offer. But the important thing to any of them is that it has to benefit all three parties. Right. If it doesn’t benefit our readers in some way, if it’s not interesting or entertaining or engaging, nobody’s gonna read it. Nobody’s going to like it. And ultimately, like, if we’re posting crappy content, we’re just going to start losing our readership. So it has a benefit to readers. The second one is it has benefited the brand because of the brands are not getting anything out of it. Then I got to pay to sponsor it. And then if both of those parties win, then we’re benefiting in some way, too. So, as always, all three parties are benefiting, then it’s kind of a no brainer. There’s a lot of easy ways to make that work.

Ben Aston

Yeah, and I’m curious as to why when you started out, I mean, you talked about doing ad sense to start with, obviously ad sense tries to put relevant ads on your site. And then in terms of how you actually began these relationships with brands, said you could begin to do these more interesting monetization options, contests, that kind of thing. How did that evolution of the relationship between you and the brands happen? 

Tyler Benedict

Well, it’s just having conversations a lot. And, you know, like I see that a lot of the same people at the events and everything that we go to and the product launches. Year after year after year. And so you just you build trust. You go to this ship, you can show them audience numbers. You say, look, this is what our site traffic is. And, you know, the other nice thing is when we post a story, you know, we put a link to the brand’s website at the bottom of every story. And I can’t tell you how many brands, especially small startups, have said, wow, you guys know that story. And it literally put us on a map. It started our business forces. We got so many orders. And for the bigger brands, you know, they’ve got teams of people that are tracking those kinds of metrics and stuff. So they see where the traffic is coming from. And it’s not always a hard sell to say, look, you know, like first these stories, you know, I know you get traffic from it. They know they’re getting traffic from it. Let’s do something a little more meaningful and a little more custom. That’s not gonna be the same. Content is what’s on every other site. And, yeah, it’s just having conversations. And I think one of the things which have evolved over time. Right. Like the more we do and the more cool things we do and the more brand an SEO that we’re doing cool projects with brand B, the more brand de wants to do some cool projects with us too. 

Tyler Benedict

So it just it all builds on itself like there’s no way we could be doing. Now what you know, when we started, there’s no way we could be doing what we do now. And part of us just learning what works, learning what doesn’t. You know, one thing, a lot of media outlets, the lines are definitely blurring between advertising and editorial. And I don’t think that they have to do that in a bad way. But I will be straight up and say that at least half or more of the big. Big-ticket projects that we do on bike rumor stuff that I’ve teed up because of the relationships I have with the brands. And then I’ll turn it over to my ad guy to manage the details of and get everything scheduled in place. But from an editorial standpoint, that’s sort of what my role has become, are these special projects. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, I think it’s it’s interesting when I’m thinking about as well the evolution of my monetization on my site when it comes to. Yeah, I started off with ad sense, then began to realize who might be interested because in advertising on your site, as you see these ads popping up, some you know, Google decided in its algorithm that this is a good match. And then it’s interesting. What you’re talking about is, you know, building these relationships with brands and it’s me. We don’t use ad sense now or any network at all, but we just go directly to who we think would be a good fit. And I think it comes back down to where you’re talking about this value exchange, I think is so important between what the audience wants and, you know, what the brands able to offer. And we can be a point of connection in the middle there. But there has to be some value exchange happening for it to be beneficial to everybody. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, okay. 

Ben Aston

So I want to talk about your team, and you’ve mentioned a few different people, but you’ve obviously kept the team pretty small. But how have you kind of evolved your role and the team? As the years have gone by. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, well, as I said, I mean, when we started, I was producing all the content and for many, many years, really up until about maybe a year and a half ago, I was still producing a ton of the daily content. And I’ve gotten fortunate to find some really good people, you know. Exactly. Been with me for now. I want to say, like nine years. He took a little break. He went actually went to work for a brand for about a year or so and then came back, thankfully. And then Corey, who lives in Prague, is kind of our European guy correspondent and has good relationships, love European brands, which helps a ton. And because this is what always strikes me as funny, is we’ll get a press release sometimes, like it or not, get a press release because it’s a European brand. They’re like, oh, well, you guys are U.S. media. We didn’t think you would want to cover this brand or as you realize, it’s called the World Wide Web. Right. Like, this is a global thing. This whole Internet, we have readers from all over the world, like fifty-five percent of our readers are from North America and the rest is everywhere else. So, you know, basically, half our traffic is not in the US Anyway, I forgot where I was going with this. Oh, yeah. Team. So it’s nice having somebody on Europeans time Zoom to be able to get some of the early stuff before East Coast wakes up and then we have. So those two guys have been with me the longest. About a year and a half ago we brought on a part-timer named Jessie Mae and she’s based in Scotland and is a real shredder on the bike. So it’s great having, you know, another person a little bit ahead of us in the global clock there. And also a great writer. Great writer. And then we’ve got a guy in Pemberton up near actually, I think near you just a little bit north of Vancouver. Yeah, that’s great for some West Coast timing and stuff. And then, yeah, we’ve gone through a lot of different freelancers over the years. I mean, people kind of fill in with summer jobs or whatever, just they just like it. And a lot of people try it for one or two stories and realize how much work it actually is. And they’re like, no ghost. 

Ben Aston

So all these. What would you describe as the job title of your team? Do they all have the same kind of role that all writing, creating content, publishing content? 

Tyler Benedict

Yes. 

Ben Aston

Sounds like a fire station. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, we live close to a fire station. And that’s actually one of the busiest ones in the city. I’m surprised it hasn’t come by more during this interview. But yeah, the. Yeah. So, yes, everybody produces content. And then they all have kind of a couple of very unique roles like Jesse Mae’s. It’s gotten pretty good, a video editing. So she helps me with some of the video projects. And Zach. Yeah. Because he’s been with me the longest. He tends to have a far more cautious personality or does have a far more cautious personality than I do, whereas I’m like gung ho. It’s this new idea. Let’s go. Is he kind of helps the brakes a little bit and which is good. It’s a very good counterbalance for me. It makes us run more evenly. But so he is in charge of managing the daily content now. So I just forward everything that comes in that I’m not personally into work on. I just forward it to him and he’s either posted or he delegates it. So he’s you know, to be totally honest, I don’t even know exactly how his management system works. You used to have like a shared inbox, and there was, as we grew that we kind of outgrew that system. So however he does it, it works. And I don’t need to know. I just need to know that it works. Butches you know, it’s really liberating. It took me a long time to not want to micromanage how he was doing it. I mean, I think it’s just any entrepreneurs, nature is like it works a certain way and, you know, it works. You want to make sure it keeps working. But he so he manages all the freelancers and his own content. Corey handles like our weekly roundup, like Friday around that is, you know, just kind of all the other little news. And now I’m working on some other kind of roundup weekly projects for me. Yeah. So it’s everybody kind of focuses a little bit, too, on their area, especially, you know, like just inmates full-on Mount BI. Like, she just does not write about road bikes because she doesn’t ride road bikes. You know, it’s that kind of it’s like me a little bit of a jack of all trades. So it helps to have people who are really good at one or two styles of writing to be able to write really well about those things as well. 

Ben Aston

And so as you decided to grow the team, was that in parallel with your revenue increasing or how is your revenue changed over the years and how is that impacted how you’ve grown your team? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, the freelance thing. I mean, everybody starts as a freelancer, right? Which is a good way of kind of testing the waters for both parties. You know, we see a 30 good and they see if they’re a good fit for us or if they actually like the work. But, yeah, so everybody starts out that way and we just pay per post. And, you know, you have a very convoluted way of figuring out how much it costs, how much we would pay per post. It was based on a percentage of revenue. And if somebody had actually been done the math, they could have figured out how much money we were making every month. And then it finally got to the point where it was getting pretty high for a single post. And so somebody could post something that literally took them 10 minutes and is made like, you know, an exceptionally good hourly rate based on that. And you just had the cap and I said, I like this. It’s now a fixed rate per post. And if we notice that you’re just posting all the super easy stuff that we know is only taking you like ten or fifteen minutes or you have a little chat, you know, like when we sign you or ask you to post one of these bigger stories, you’re still getting paid the same rate. But we need you to step up and do this stuff. So yeah,. 

Ben Aston

You see what that right is? 

Tyler Benedict

It’s twenty-five dollars per post now. Much like I know saying that out loud, depending on the type of story it is, it’s either a great rate or it’s not very much. But unfortunately, that is the reality of this type of business. And, you know, like I did a lot of research trying to figure out what other sites and a lot of different industries, even some really big sites, you know, as I’ve heard, BuzzFeed could be as little as like five bucks a post and they’re just cranking out twenty posts a day or something or forty posts a day to feed that machine.

Ben Aston

How much are you publishing per day?

Tyler Benedict

Anywhere from six to 10, just kind of depends on what’s going on. 

Ben Aston

Right. 

Tyler Benedict

But yeah, the goal for many, many years has been to fill the front page. Right. Like to flush the front page every day so that at least if you’re looking at it, you can get all the way to the bottom and see something new every day. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But yeah. 

Ben Aston

And so that’s super interesting. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. I mean, we want people to come to terms with it and feel like they need to come back every day. Right. The goal is you encouraged people to get in the habit of checking our site daily. And if they do, we don’t want to disappoint them. So it’s sort of like another blessing and a curse, right. Like you create this expectation of tons of content. Then all of a sudden you have to deliver on that expectation every single day. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. Now, that’s said that is a big ask because you we obviously go for the opposite approach, which is we’re just crazing evergreen content. Well, mainly, mainly evergreen content. Actually, we started a separate Web site for news projectmanagernews.com that so focused on news that. Yeah. Having that kind of burden of having to refresh the whole time is something that, you know, that won’t be good stories to tell you about, right? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. I mean, it’s unfortunate that there’s a lot of new stuff to talk about. And then in the down season, it’s kind of when we’re trying to come up on reviews and everything has reviews or great evergreen content, and really we should be having more of that. But, you know, it’s a small team and we’re pumping out what we can. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, so, I mean, you talked about you used to have a shared inbox. And I’d love to know a bit more about your process. I mean, it sounds like you get incoming leads, all kinds of articles or press releases, I guess. But what does that process look like in terms of you working out how it fits into your content strategy, doing keyword research, writing, publishing, you getting through a lot of content. So how do you have you kind of streamline that process? 

Tyler Benedict

Well, so I’ll tell you about our shared inbox because it’s actually a pretty brilliant solution we had for a while before we sort of outgrew it. But basically, we just created an inbox where all of our freelancers and editors, everybody had the password. They could set it up as an imap box so that it’s everybody seeing the same thing. And we would just dump all the content in there. And it was kind of on a first-come, first-serve. You know, if you had an hour to go write a story or two, you’d go in there, you find something you could write about and you’d forward it to yourself and delete it from the shared inbox so that it wasn’t there for somebody else to accidentally grab and be writing the same story. You know, simple, free, easy to understand. Everybody knows how to use email, you know, and it worked pretty well. Every I’d say like once a quarter we’d get somebody would end up messing up and doing a duplicate post. So, you know, you just have rules. And here’s how this works and people did it. So it’s still I think Zach is still using some manner of that. But it got to the point where it just became it made more sense for us too. Manage who is posting what, and so we. Use Slack for a long time to communicate with team members. And so now what we do is we just have a channel called assignments. And it’s instead of just having a free for all, come, you know, grab what you can’t first come first serve. Zach prioritizes the important stuff because everything, not everything that comes in has to get posted right away and stuff really should. But some of that really urgent stuff would just get buried in the inbox. And so now he’s in charge of prioritizing and assigning certain things to certain writers based on, you know when it can get done away. It needs to get done. And then we just know that if nobody can jump on it, one of us is gonna have to jump on it. And so that’s kind of it. Like, I just. Yeah, that’s Zach’s job, is to manage that workflow and make sure that the important stuff gets posted as soon as it comes in or scheduled out on time for any embargo’s. 

Ben Aston

And so in terms of that, going back to the process of actual writing, I know earlier we talked about how, you know, back in 2008, there weren’t that many keyword tools out there. Now, that’s seemingly more and more appearing. How how does that now, you know, do incorporate that into your workflow and process? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, we do. I mean, we’ve got some basic guidelines that all of our writers have been taught. Like we’ve got a writers guy that’s. Kind of lays out like, look, these are this is the low hanging fruit. Like, here’s how to write a good headline. Here’s how to name your image files. Here’s how to use the old tags. Here’s how to do a good sentence structure. Here’s like the basics, right? Like the basics that everybody should be doing it or writing anything online. And then for the. And that’s honestly that’s good enough for probably 80 percent of what we write. You know, the other 20 percent are these special features, like the really unique content. Because let’s be honest, if we’re writing a story about a new Shimano, you know, drive, train, everybody else in the cycling media has access to the same exact information. So the trick for us is to just make sure that we get it up on time. Because all of that stuff is embargoes. Everybody’s posting their story at the same exact time. Globally for major product announcements. So the best you can do is to just make sure that yours is extremely well written and tagged and structured properly, so that it stands the best chance in search and then having the authority of having been around for 12 years and as a known authority on that subject matter, you know, certainly helps in search as well. But we’re not the only ones that have that going for us. So where it counts to do that, an extra bit of research and planning for the stories is when you’re doing a truly original piece of content or a review or something like that. And so for that, we’ll look at things like asking the public that com or Google Trends, you know, trying to think there’s like one other one of forgetting. But, you know, like, we’ll just kind of like look around a little bit more and see get some insights into how we should phrase our subheadings and our headlines and see which words make sense. Yeah. There was an easy example of, you know like we do our van Life series is one of those non-bike things we do that’s actually super popular. You know, the people build custom sprinter vans and stuff. And so we’ve done a few projects with Van Do It, which is a custom builder for Ford transits out of Missouri. And I’m just talking to them or explaining the process that I like. Oh, yeah. Did. If you do like a custom van, it will get like no traffic if you do a camper van. It blows up like people just search. Camper van. Right. They don’t search like something else similar. So it’s just little insights like that that you can get from checking trends and doing, you know, related search topics and search volume research that it’s like it can literally be the difference between crickets and a floodgate of traffic. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, definitely keyword research, I think is essential. I think it was well, just just like you mentioned there, in terms of making sure that we’re using the same language as the majority say that. I mean, there might be an opportunity looking for, I don’t know, sprint vans for mountain biking trips or something like that. But yeah, you want the high volume, low difficulty in order to get as much clickthrough as you can. But can you tell us what else is in your stack? You mentioned that the site was originally built on WordPress. Is it still that what other tools are you using that are working for you? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, it’s still a WordPress site. We’ve run the newspaper theme, which, you know if that means anything to anybody. And it’s one of those things that I always question is I feel like the more stuff you add, you just get this bloated site into our database right now, like, oh, man, it’s gigabytes. Like it’s stupid. I’ll be your WordPress database as a node. Like, it actually scares me, though. It’s just going to just break one day because it’s so big. And like I get calls about every quarter from our hosts saying, yeah, the C.P.U usage on your server is a little out of control and we’ll have to do some stuff or upgrade. Yeah, that kind of stuff, I mean, the servers were on WP Engine, which is doing pretty good for us. And honestly, the reason I’m sticking with them is just that the customer service is super responsive. We don’t have a ton of problems, but when something is not working right, I want to be able to get an instant response. And yeah, yeah, we Slack for communication. We use a ton of Google’s Google Drive stuff, you know like we’ve got a ton of spreadsheets in there and drive and talks. And that’s where we store a lot of raw assets, like video assets for video projects that we’re working on between the team. Those are kind of the key ones, you know, within WordPress jetpack. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, love jetpack, even that seems to be really heavy on the site. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, I suppose so, yeah. That’s why developers probably two or three times the ERM. Do we need a jetpack? We need this and this I guess. Tyler. Yes. You still need that. OK. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, yeah, I think I’m we’re in a similar boat inasmuch as we’ve built on WordPress, it’s always been on WordPress. We now have this you know, it’s kind of duct-taped together the solution, because, you know, we’re using various plugins because we don’t have a full-time development team. So you’re trying to like WordPress is great, but as you start trying to make it more complex, it starts struggling. And, yeah, we have an enormous database that’s I don’t think it would. I think it might be 17 gigs. It’s huge and it causes problems. But that’s that’s fun. 

Ben Aston

One other question. You talk about you pay your staff like per post, but do you have a way of calculating the ROI on your content? Full of light. You know, you talked about publishing 10 posts a day or something. How do you? Have you worked out that that is the ROI? Why you get ROI from that? 

Tyler Benedict

I haven’t, to be totally honest in it, says Zachary and Jesse, may or on retainer there on a fixed retainer every month. Right. I’m actually the only salaried employee of the company. Everybody else is a freelance contract writer. And some of them do other things, too. Like, I don’t. It’s they know what needs to get done. What they do in their free time is tailored to them, which is the way I think life should be. Right. Like, it’s part of the reason I don’t have I can’t go work for somebody else because I don’t want somebody else in control of my time. You know, and like, it’s funny, we joke that Zach actually he lives on the East Coast time, but he, quote unquote lives on West Coast time because he’ll be up working on stuff at like 1:00 a.m. and I’ll wake up and it’s done. But he won’t get up. And, you know, I can’t get in touch with him until like 10:00 a.m. So it works out. But yeah. So as far as calculating ROI. The metric I look at is site traffic: is our site traffic holding steady or growing. And are we getting good eyeballs on the content that we think should be getting good eyeballs or if not, why not? Like, what do we do wrong, or what do we miss? Or sometimes we get surprised and something just gets way more traffic than we think it did. And we just kind of tried to figure out why. Like, what was the interesting part of that, or what did we get? Right. And yes, they are alive. The ROI I look at is really just page views on particular posts and overall site traffic. Because if our site traffic is growing or, you know, at least where it needs to be, then I know that my network ad revenue is going to be very predictable. And I know that that gives me the resources I need to do whatever it is, whether it’s tried and get some new equipment so we can do better videos or hiring a freelancer or increase the amount of work that I can delegate to somebody else because then I have to pay them for that. You know, it all comes down to traffic for me. So. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, and that’s because you’ll monetize. The primary monetization is through those network ads.

Tyler Benedict

It is. Yeah. I mean the special projects side of it like this content base packages are definitely growing pretty quickly. And it’s like it’s super fresh for us. I mean, we only started doing that stuff about I think we came up with the ideas and started kind of putting feelers out there and let people know about them. About two years ago. So this is you know, 2020 is really like the only the third year that we’ve had any of that kind of stuff. And it’s definitely growing because like I said, like when Brandi sees the brand B did it and got a huge response, then they want it. So it takes that sort of social proof of seeing some of your other big competitors doing it and be like, huh, yeah, maybe we should do that. And that’s Lliterally what the some of the conversations I had this week were like some major brands that we’ve been trying to crack that nut for, like forever since I started the site that I’ve just never actually advertise with us. They’re finally like, oh, yeah, that actually does some pretty good. I like, oh, this guy did it. Yeah. Okay, let’s do something great. Took me 10 years to convince you to do this, but. Yeah, yeah. 

Tyler Benedict

And so it’s just really like I guess that would be another metric that I look is like, okay, how many more of these projects are we selling. It’s not necessarily, you know, like some of it’s fixed price, some of its custom and stuff. And it’s, you know, the custom side of it is how much can we realistically charge based on what we know, our competition is charging for a similar package and there’s a lot of variables that go into that. But. 

Ben Aston

Can you tell me the real outlines packages? 

Tyler Benedict

Well, like some of our travel stuff for the key sponsor, like the way to ride features, you know, they it depends on the trip and the cost of the trip and all the logistics as to how much we have to charge to make it viable. But for the key sponsor, for those, it can range from, you know, a couple of grand up to seventy-five hundred and. Which for us sounds like a lot. Because like, to be totally honest, there’s a lot of projects that we’ve never charged anywhere close to that amount before for, but we delivered on it and now we feel justified in charging more. But also can see similar projects from other sites that have been able to charge two and three times that amount and get it. So I’m like, OK. Like, that was literally eye-opening for me is because, for the longest time, one of my biggest faults is assigning my value system to what we charge for stuff. And so we’re literally pitching a brand like, you know, I’m just using Shimano as an example. This isn’t necessarily a conversation I’ve had with them. But like, you know, let’s say SR1 is literally a billion-dollar company. Right. Like they do fishing and cycling components for virtually every bike made, at least a huge portion of it for them to for us to go and say, hey, how about like ten thousand dollars this year? They’re like Literally that’s a rounding error. But for us, that sounds like a lot. Right. And so what I’m still learning is to really price things based on what they’re really worth. Seeing what my competition has charged for some things has been really, really helpful for me because it’s like, oh, wait. Brands are willing to pay that. OK. We’re gonna charge more.

Ben Aston

Yeah, yeah, I think it’s pricey, I think is so difficult. And I know that when we developed our media kit, they’re putting numbers on things is super tricky. And because different publishers will charge different amounts. And, you know, some a publisher might charge fifty dollars for publishing something and someone else might charge 5000 dollars. But there is there are no real hard and fast rules. And I think one of the things that are helped us is by going back to the partners and saying so. Okay. So when we did this campaign, how did it work out for you? What were the results? And getting some kind of metrics back from them so that we have more of a story to tell. Next time we engage in a conversation like that. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, that’s that is one of the nice things about some of these content projects is especially if the reader survey contests like you see exactly how many people enter because you can dump the e-mails into a spreadsheet and look at the field numbers. You know, it’s one of the things we should probably be doing a better job of tracking the performance of some of these so that we have better numbers to show people. But, yeah, it’s like against a small team. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So just before we close, I’m curious if you can tell us a bit about your other projects. Well, we’ve just been talking about my treatment by Naval Build Cycle Peak Content Summit. And I was stalking you and so, just this week, you’d be uploading stuff to YouTube as well. So tell us about your goals for this year and these new projects and how they fit into that. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, absolutely. So the build cycles thing I’ve done for a long time. Few years. That podcast goes on. And it really started off as entrepreneurship because I’ve started to know beverage companies and other little side projects with friends that aren’t worth mentioning. Some did. OK, something someone just shuttered. It was really just like, let’s learn something and start a business and then cancel it. But I learned a lot. Right. And one of the things, especially from the beverage industry, that I’ve learned so many things the hard way and so many stupid, expensive lessons that had somebody just said, hey, you know, you’re doing it wrong, like literally could have saved tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of my life. Right. And actually, maybe had that company been successful. And so I’m just like going through all of that. You realize, like, man, there are so many just dumb things a lot of entrepreneurs do just because they don’t know any better. Right. And so if I can help provide some quick lessons on that, just to save people heartache and money, if nothing else, then like whatever. 

Tyler Benedict

So I interview. And then it was also an excuse for me to learn from smarter people. So, I mean, I’ve interviewed some incredible people, business founders, you know, largely in the outdoor and active lifestyle, cycling space, but also, you know, just some really cool people like, you know, a Kagan or Jordan Harbinger. And we’re guests on that one just to kind of get different perspectives on things. But, yeah, that one, I’ll be honest, is I’m trying to figure out a clean way to transition to less focusing entrepreneurship and startup stuff and more into the content marketing side of things. But it’s going to be a slow transition, I think because I’m still really fascinated by how people have grown and built companies because I’m still trying to I feel like, with my crew, we’re like we’ve got a lot figured out that there’s a lot that I don’t know about how to grow this company. And I think that’s I’m going off a lot of tangents here. But that’s one of the struggles I think so many entrepreneurs have, is they can build something to point, you know, like let’s say they get it from one, two, three, four, five, six, seven steps. And then getting step eight is they just don’t know how to do it. And I feel like that’s almost where we’re at with Vikram or in many regards is like I can build something to a certain point. But then what? And so the more people I can talk to and learn from, that helps me grow my own businesses and mindset and skillset. So. So that’s what the build cycle is. If you join and you’re going to hear plenty of startup and entrepreneurial stories, you’re going to start hearing more and more content marketing stories. 

Tyler Benedict

Which leads to the Peak Content Summit. So with Bike Rumor, what we found is we started adding these content packages. Was that brand after brand after Brand said there were super interested. Everybody wants to do content marketing now. Nobody wants banner ads anymore. It’s all content marketing. Right? Well, the thing is, not only do we have to figure it out but then we had to explain it to everybody because it’s like a buzzword, right? Everybody wants it. Nobody knows what it is. Or these brands are making some incredible content with, you know, because they’ve got big budgets and they’ve got they can hire videographers or they have a staff inside internally that can produce. And they’ve got spots of athletes that have like World-Class Downhills or whatever. And they’re going to the big events are shooting all this footage. They’re producing some sick edits that can get a lot of eyeballs. But the problem is they do this and they dump they just send it out to us and expect the media to just post whatever they send or to put it on the meet the Brandell, put it on their own Web site of their own blog or their own YouTube channel, which has like no traffic compared to what we have. And so there’s this there’s just this tremendous education that we had to give these brands. Every time we’re pitching on something, we are. Why should they do it? What do they expect? What do they need to do, blah, blah, blah? 

Tyler Benedict

I figured if everybody’s asking the same questions and trying to figure this out, then I just need to do a conference and teach everyone what needs to be and then also bring in a whole lot of people that are wasteful to me on certain topics. And, you know, just kind of put together this, you know, a two-day master class on content marketing and content strategy. That’s what became Peak Content Summit, which held in March in Asheville, North Carolina. It was awesome. And, you know, just to plug it, if I continue to link, you can share, hopefully. But on every horse and every session, I recorded it all video with Crystal in the separate audio track. And it’s all been edited down in two videos for every 10 speaker sessions are available for On-Demand streaming, and it’s all on a course that is built on think of it. So it’s some it’s rad. I mean, the level of talent that came in to speak at this thing is just it still blows my mind how much incredible knowledge was shared there. 

Ben Aston

So, yeah, almost there wasn’t a site for that. Just if people are listening. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. So it’s I think if you go to tylerbenedict.com You’ll see the course on there. Or if you go find Peak Content Summit on social, and there’ll be links there as well. 

Ben Aston

Good stuff. 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah. 

Ben Aston

Cool, so well, just most rotten with this final question for someone at the start of that digital media, Janni, maybe they have a blog or thinking about starting something. What’s the most painful lesson you learned or the best piece of advice you can give them as they think about what to avoid and what to focus on? 

Tyler Benedict

Yeah, well, the most painful lesson was easy. Just don’t steal other people’s content posted posing as your own. Never, never, never do that. Especially now. Guess I mean, the backlash and the speed with which you will receive backlash on social for doing something like that is just not worth it. And it was just a dumb rookie mistake that I made back in the day a couple of times and whatever. Don’t do it. 

Tyler Benedict

You’ve got to find a way of standing out from what everybody else is doing. And I can give you the perfect example of what not to do. So there’s one of our biggest competitors in the cycling coverage space is the video network. And they’re just entirely a YouTube channel like that. They don’t. You have a Web site. It’s like they built multiple channels, Alan. Every single one of them has over a million and a half subscribers. I mean, it’s just a massive juggernaut of cycling media, which by comparison, our YouTube channel has, you know, nothing compared to them. So but because they’re so successful, the way the style of their reporting, like I’ve seen them, you know when they go to a trade show and they cover it, they have a certain style about the way they hold themselves in front of the camera, the way they talk to the camera, the way they’re like gesturing toward the products and all that. It’s you instantly recognize it as this is what they do. So last year at Eurobike, which is the largest cycling trade show in the world, it happens every fall I saw. I mean, literally, I felt like hundreds of startup little YouTube channels all trying to do the exact same thing. They were really the only point of differentiation was some of them were speaking Italian or German or French or Spanish or whatever it was. But the way they looked it from the camera, though, the way they’re pointing to things, the way they gestured, the way they tone of voice, literally, they were trying to copy what the category leader was doing verbatim. Like everything about it. And I’m just sitting there watching. I literally would like to look at one booth and see these kids doing their little video the same way. And I’d turn my head, yo, 30 degrees the next booth that sees somebody else doing the same thing, somebody else and I somebody else doing something. I’m like, OK, we’re here. 

Tyler Benedict

We’ve been on a mission to do more video, but I’m like, OK, well, we’re definitely not going to do that because there is no way any of them are going to make a dent trying to do the exact same thing. So do you already have a million and a half plus subscribers across four channels across like four different channels? It’s like, why even start? Why? Like, if I had to try and create another bike rumor to go against bike rumor today, I wouldn’t do it. Like, there’s no point in trying to recreate what. Somebody is already doing that is well established four years or a decade or more, that already has the traffic. Because how are you ever going to steal market share from their readership share? So you have to find something that’s going to make you stand out and be different and really unique. And figure out like, what is it that you’re bringing to the table that nobody else has done yet, which is a big task. Right. Like, it’s not easy, but it’s important.

Ben Aston

Yeah. And the temptation can be yet to think hell. Well, I’ll just copy it. It must be a good idea because someone else is doing it so I can just copy it. And but when you don’t take into consideration how much. Yeah. How far ahead the competitor is. So if I was to start a bike Freema today like getting 10 years’ worth of content in there and that’s the main ranking that you have. I if it will be, it would be super, super hard to do that. So I am finding a fresh niche or a fresh angle. Whether or not that’s the content type or mechanism or just angle on a subject. I think that’s super, super solid advice. 

Tyler Benedict

He’s thinking. Yeah. No, take a risk of the kind of pushing this one too long. Be patient too. Because like I see it, these events, you see somebody who’s just started a site or just started a YouTube channel and they walk in like they’re God’s gift to the brand, like, oh, you don’t know my channel, dude. I got like a thousand subscribers. I mean, like, show me all the new stuff I can you give me that I need that fork to review for my channel. 

Tyler Benedict

And I just sit there and. Because I’ve known some of these guys, girls that the brands for like twelve years now think that they’re just looking at me and we look at each other pretty slick. I mean, it sounds super rude, but you’re just like shaking your head. Like who was that person trying to come in here and come demand all this attention to products and stuff? And you just laugh and they leave and just laugh. And it’s like the exact wrong way to go about it because that person is never going to be able to go back in there with any humility and get these brands’ attention. These brands are going to ignore that person from then on, you know, and so, like, it took us, I think, three years of doing it, of posting stuff every single day before we were invited to our first press launch event. And there was literally I had to call a couple of the brands that I knew were going to be at this event and said, hey, B.N., like, can you just put a good word for us? Like, I’d love to be at this thing. You know, if you think our coverage is good, you’d like us to be there. Would you mind just telling the event directors like, hey, can you give us some BI and stuff? And the first year it didn’t work like but that event director took notice and the next year we were invited and we actually became their favorite media outlet because we did the best job of everybody there for like the next eight years. It was insane. But it’s it takes a lot more work than you might imagine unless you just somehow capture lightning in a bottle and just blows up. And sometimes it does. As a look at some sites or some YouTube channels and you’re like, there’s some magic to it and or they’re doing something right. And it works. 

Tyler Benedict

But the vast majority of it, it’s just you have to put in a ton of time and be patient and be home. 

Ben Aston

Yeah. Are experiences insight into it? Well, it took three years before we started making any money with thinking pounds. And so tenacity is a massive part of this. I won’t be scared of keeping on going when it seems like no one’s listening, watching. If you know you’re onto a good thing, keep at it, because it will come eventually. 

Tyler Benedict

When you better a lot tighter. Thank you so much for having me. 

Ben Aston

Yeah, it’s been great having you with us. And if you like what you heard today, please subscribe and stay in touch on Indiemedia.club. But until next time. Thanks for listening. 

Tyler Benedict

Thank you. 

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