In this episode of Audience Growth School, I interviewed Stephen Pope, a video and social media industry expert. Stephen shares his journey of overcoming fear and finding his mission to help others make a big impact through storytelling, persuasive communication, and content automation. Discover Stephen’s insights on building an engaged audience and optimizing content creation processes.
Dan Sanchez [00:00:01]:
Welcome back to audience growth school where I’m documenting how creators and businesses have grown their audiences so that you and I can do the same I’m Dan Sanchez. And today, I’m joined by Steven Pope, who is the founder of SGP Labs.
Stephen Pope [00:00:14]:
Steven, welcome to the show. Yeah. Thanks. I appreciate you having me on. We’ve known each other for quite a long time on LinkedIn, so it’s, you know, true honor to be on your podcast here.
Dan Sanchez [00:00:23]:
Absolutely. I mean, you’ve been doing killing it on your audience growth side. I know you have a lot of things going in, but let’s let’s just dive into the first question. before I just martech unpacking it already. Just kinda kick it off. Like, who is your audience What kind of content do you make, and where is your audience usually consuming it? Yeah. So,
Stephen Pope [00:00:44]:
yeah, my audience is kinda like it’s it’s it’s basically become people that wanna create content. So, you know, the primary, you know, person I work with is just an entrepreneur that wants to use video to grow their business. Right? So there’s the flood of people that wanna do that. But just because of the content that I create and some of the products kinda have some crossover, I definitely have, like, clients that are YouTubers. One of my clients is like a he’s got, like, a million subscribers because you you’ve seen a lot of my content automation. So — Yep. And then it’s it’s Interestingly enough, it’s like video agencies. So and those 2 particular people tend to, like, go towards the automation that I’ve built all around. you know, content and, like, facilitating that workflow. But, you know, it’s it’s basically people that wanna grow their business and people that are creating a lot of content or creating a lot of content for other people.
Dan Sanchez [00:01:32]:
So for the record, how how large is your audience? And is it just on LinkedIn, or do you have multiple platforms?
Stephen Pope [00:01:38]:
Yeah. So I I it’s kinda I’ve developed these thoughts over over time, but, like, I don’t even think I have a LinkedIn audience. LinkedIn seems to be it’s more like you have connections. Like, people say, I’ve got The only people that I’ve I I think have audiences there are people that have well over 30,000, like, connections because, like, when people said they have 15 or 20,000. It just means they’ve connected with that many people. So where I really feel like I’ve grown an audience is like I’m platforms like TikTok and YouTube. And I particularly like those platforms, not because LinkedIn is bad, but just because LinkedIn is, like, definitely a network platform. You talk about this all the time. Like, I just saw one of your posts where you’re talking about how you have multiple people going in and out there and — Yep. — networking. That that’s where I have seen, like, the most success for people on LinkedIn. So LinkedIn to me is, like, it’s not a creator platform even though you could argue it is. But like a networking platform that’s supported with content. But I like I’ve always liked TikTok. Yeah. I’ve got, like, 45,000 followers there. And my YouTube channel is growing. I’ve got, like, 25100 subscribers there. Nice. Yeah. So I like, I’ve kinda figured out how to create content and build up an audience And now I have a a community which is growing quickly as well. That’s probably my fastest growing place right now. There’s, like, seven hundred people in there. It’s, like, totally free and open.
Dan Sanchez [00:02:59]:
Still having known community. That’s huge. Yeah. Community is, like — A few thousand people on YouTube is huge. I mean, that’s hard. in the — That was hard, man. It’s hard. It’s a grind.
Stephen Pope [00:03:07]:
Like, yeah, it is.
Dan Sanchez [00:03:09]:
Yeah. Like — Anytime anytime a B2B person’s over a 1000, I’m well done. It’s hard to get into a 1000.
Stephen Pope [00:03:16]:
Yeah. Yeah. And I’ve also kinda found too, like, the more you niche into your content and, like, the more specific you make it. Like, I kinda found a niche inadvertently. Like, I didn’t I didn’t set out to, but I I really kinda have created a spot for myself And when you do that, like, even when you have a smaller audience, you can make it quite profitable because you just really stand out in that group, you know.
Dan Sanchez [00:03:41]:
So I know your lot your content’s a lot about market automation, but break that down for for the audience, like, what kinds how how are you tackling that topic differently than others.
Stephen Pope [00:03:51]:
Yeah. So, like, it just off the bat. Like, I wouldn’t even say it’s marketing automation as much as content automation. Content automation. So, like, how do you, you know, international, how do you create content at scale? How how can you create a ton of it? How do you how do you primarily organize it? and structure all of that so that it’s dead simple. You were just talking about how you you like this podcasting platform simply because you don’t have to download and reupload it. So all of those little tasks that are involved in the content creation process are just a pain. So, like, if you so if your if your goal is to create a lot, And it’s just my personality. Like, I saw what Gary V was doing, and I was like, man, I wanna be able to do that. I don’t have, like, the 1,000,000 of dollars and the fifty people to do it. So I just started using the skills that I did have, which was just like automation to streamline every little piece, like, on that flow. So how do you organize and automate the organization? And then from there, how do you automate all of the content workflow? so that you get all of these posts to the correct place with with this least amount of effort as possible. because if if you do if you have to do less, you’ll do more. And and so there’s that dynamic there. Like, the and the more you do, the the better you get at it. I mean, it’s definitely like a push and a pull. Like, like, it’s frustrating to try to do a lot, but I like to exercise that that muscle. And and so that’s kinda, like, where I’ve kinda found my my own little niche.
Dan Sanchez [00:05:22]:
It’s huge. I mean and I’m a huge huge fan of this topic because I came obviously, I keep content marketing automation. I know it’s content automation, but — Yeah. — like, coming from, like, someone who was a heavy user of tools like FusionSoft back in 2012 when automation was really starting to become like a thing, and HubSpot was starting to ramp up its automation engine. Like, I like automating things. Because, you know, like, you can put the work into doing it, or you could do it and build a process around it once. And all of a sudden, you don’t have to do that thing anymore. And maybe it’s just because I’m a little lazy. I’m like, I hate doing repetitive things over and over again. Me too. I do I do too. That’s I mean, that’s why I did it. You know? I mean, you could definitely, like
Stephen Pope [00:06:01]:
in the whole automation space, I think there is like a like an allure as well. Like, some of the things that people help you automate aren’t things you should actually automate. So I’ve gotten through a lot of those. Yep. Like, you know, places as well. Like, I could do this and I could do that. But, like, should I really tell people to do that? Probably not because it’s you know? So it’s like it’s a real balance. Like so when I’m You know, when I’m talking to people about content, it’s like, hey. Yeah. All this automation is cool, but you still have to make some cool stuff. You gotta make cool content that people really wanna watch. Otherwise, like, none of that automation is gonna do anything. And it it’s funny because some of my customers come to me. They’re like, oh, like, I want that automation platform. Like, have you ever created a video and they’re they’re like and they’re like, no. And I’m like, well, let’s start here. Let’s get on video. Let’s make some good stuff. Let’s maybe make a dollar from a video. And then then let’s worry about all of this other stuff that would probably be distracting to you right now.
Dan Sanchez [00:06:57]:
Yep. it’s man, there’s so many things to it. And I think with AI now, it’s just getting nuts. Right? Right. Yeah. In the last couple of years, it’s been nice because you can make pretty good transcriptions based on the audio and video content, which got you so far. But now the open now you can feed transcripts to OpenAI. You’re like, my gosh. Like, the automation realms have just opened up, but it’s only these AI tools are only just starting to develop APIs and stuff, and I’m sure you’re you have a lot of work to do as far as integrating the AI tools. Even for this podcast, you know, I I take the video from Zencaster here, upload it to Castmagic, which spits out a bunch of title recommendations, show notes, and blog posts. You still have to play with it. But in the meantime, I’m still doing a lot of editing. I’m still copying and pasting it over into Word I’m still having to go and grab an image for WordPress and for — That’s — — embedding my embed over into WordPress so I had to publish it all. And then finally share the link to the WordPress blog. So I’m like, there’s probably still some gains I need on automation side. Well, that is the trick, though. Right? because, like, you have to find this good balance of, like, how do these tools actually really help and create something cool? And where are they gonna, like, degrade
Stephen Pope [00:08:04]:
your content? Right? You know, it’s like, you get a lot of people out there that’s like they say they should use it for everything, and they’re, like, telling you, like, you can automate your whole the whole content thing. And then I think that’s dangerous because then you’re gonna dilute what your content is. It’s not gonna be unique. But then there’s other people on the other side that says you shouldn’t use it at all because it’s gonna completely dilute everything, and it’s gonna make your content horrible. And — Yep. — both of those sides, I think they’re missing the point. Like, Like, is it like, is it perfect? No. But struggling with these things and using them and finding out where they are right now, I think that gives you a huge competitive advantage. And so, like, right now, like, the main place I use it is, like, same with you. It’s like, if I if I create a clip, I’ll take the transcription from that clip and then I’ll have Chad GPT clean it up and turn it into a post. And then I go in and I tweak it, but that saves me a lot of time because number 1, I’m dyslexic. So, like, going through that process of, like, digesting what that transcript was. because you know, like, a a podcast clip, it starts in this random spot and ends in a random spot. You can’t just post that. So, like but having checked GPT, read it, reformat it. So it’s still using the the language.
Dan Sanchez [00:09:20]:
and then cleaning it up, that saves a ton of time. Oh, yeah. No. Chad GPT has been a huge help for me. I I don’t make blog posts anymore. I literally just record either podcasts like this or Loom videos, feed the transcript to JetGPT, and then just edit what it gives me. But I I make many more way more blog post now. They’re not SEO blog posts. They’re definitely, like, more thought leadership pieces, but — Sure. — they’re good. I’m like, dang. I actually clog again because I hate writing long form content. Oh, it’s such a pain. Yeah. That yeah. And I think,
Stephen Pope [00:09:50]:
like, I think the context is all important here too. Right? So, like, is it gonna, like, kill it on SEO? Well, I I couldn’t tell you one way or another because I don’t know anything about SEO. But my guess is is that Google can detect these things, and they they So it’s like, does it will it do SEO? Maybe not as effective as somebody wrote an original piece and knew all the SEO stuff. but that doesn’t matter. It’s like, it’s still a piece of content that you can share with your newsletter and people can when they go to your website, you know, I I mean, most people find me through social content anyway. They find me on my my website.
Dan Sanchez [00:10:22]:
Yeah. I mean, even, like, with an audio podcast, not everybody likes to listen. Some people freaking hate podcasts, but they want the content But transcripts suck to read. Nobody likes that. Right. So to have something turned into our pretty easy to scan and read blog posts, I’m like, that’s a freaking win. And now you can do it for pennies on the doll dollar as far as time goes because AI can write it instead of having because it’s Sweetfish. I mean, at Sweetfish, we had a full time writer, like, a really good writer listening to the episode and then writing out the blog post. If it can took a couple hours to make each one, is why we had to charge so much money. But now you can it’s not as good as having a writer listen to it and write it, of course. But it’s pretty dang close. I mean, you’re talking at least to 80 if not 90% of the way there of what a normal writer was able to do with the blog post just coming from a podcast episode. Yeah. And the information is the most important thing, like, Yeah. I mean creative writing will always be creative but
Stephen Pope [00:11:15]:
and I guess if you’re a good creative writer a good creative writer and you could probably make something more interesting — For sure. — which which is value in that. I guess it kinda all depends on your angle at content. Like, if it like, sometimes I think, like, especially in, like, the b to b space, like, people put too much pressure on the creative side of it. Like, surely, if you if you can be creative and be entertaining and all that stuff, that’s gonna be make it better. But I don’t you know, that’s a tough skill to teach someone. as opposed to
Dan Sanchez [00:11:47]:
teaching them how to clearly communicate good information that a business would want. You know? But most B2B companies don’t even do that. they don’t even get creative enough to make it stand out apart from AI. Could they? Sure. You could develop a whole fake mascot for your company and build a whole profile around it. It’d be awesome. Like, you can’t wait for a company to do that. Do they do it? No. because that would be way too sexy and it’s exciting and creative.
Stephen Pope [00:12:09]:
And and they probably, like, lot of companies probably don’t even do it because they feel like they have to be creative. And, like, I don’t know. That’s, like, a tall order to get, like, to make all of your employees and, like, become creative geniuses. And it’s a lot of pressure, and that’s probably, like, why a lot of people don’t even get into it. Like, b to b, content can be just way more straightforward and informative and, you know, just make it easier on yourself. If you’re an expert at something, just be the expert. just cut out all the the fluff.
Dan Sanchez [00:12:41]:
That’s it. So is your gain if you’re posting your expert tactics and how tos on how to automate the content creation process, where do you find you’re getting the most audience from? Like, what kind of tactics strategies or places are or you’re actually acquiring audience through? I think mostly, it’s just, like, literally showing
Stephen Pope [00:13:01]:
showing the tools, showing behind the scenes. stuff. That seems to work the best for me. You know, when I just take out my phone and just, like, literally just, like, sometimes just do, like, recordings of the screen itself and just say, hey. Check out this system that keeps everything organized. That’s, like, those like, it’s just easier for people to digest than to sit in front of the camera. I mean, I do these too, but, like, you know, like, I I just, like, show don’t tell, I think, is a good a good thing because people like the behind the scenes, and they wanna be able to connect those dots really easily. When you try to overly communicate your ideas just by looking at the camera and say, hey. If you download Airtable and you do this and you do that, It’s just like it’s harder for people to digest in a quick snippet. And like on the social platforms, I think being able to get information digested very quickly is important because, like, you know, people aren’t really there to see you or me. So, like, you gotta You got to get at the point across quick.
Dan Sanchez [00:14:03]:
So from here and you’re right, like, most of your audience is coming from you giving just great content, and then that content hitting a certain amount of consistent virality on TikTok, because TikTok is showing it to a lot of people. As people are lean in and watch, like, these little productive contact hacks.
Stephen Pope [00:14:19]:
Yeah. And I try not to convince people of things either. Yeah. Like, I see a lot of that on LinkedIn. Like, just people like it’s like they’re obviously trying to convince you And then it just doesn’t come across as, like, authentic because it’s like they’re trying to convince you of something and guess what? They happen to sell that thing. Yep. So it’s like it it just creates this like I don’t think that that’s it’s gonna work as well as just being like, yeah. I’m I’m this expert at this thing. And if you like, let me show you something. And then it allows people to kinda digest it and decide for themselves Like, they convinced themselves versus you trying to create that kinda convincing kinda content, which I think people sense and pull away from.
Dan Sanchez [00:15:01]:
Yeah. Totally makes makes a ton of sense. What are you doing to retain audience? So, like, you acquire audience, is there anything in particular you’re doing to, keep them around longer? That’s the community aspect.
Stephen Pope [00:15:13]:
So — How about that? So I have a a community on this platform called school. It’s s k o o l. And I won’t go into the background of that, but it’s a really cool, like simple platform. my my community is at school.com/contentdashacademy. But it’s like there it’s like I’m able to actually interact with people And I can like, I post my client calls there. There’s courses you can take. So it’s like it’s a place where we can, like, communicate and hang out. And I think that’s gonna be the the differentiator. Right? because, like, I think, like, when people can interact with you and and and kinda grow with you. And then there’s other people helping other people. Right? because if you put all the the pressure on yourself to, like, lead all these people all the time, It’s a lot of pressure as opposed to kinda creating a place where people can post and interact. And, like so some of my clients will post and say, hey. Here’s my first video. then other people will come in and say, oh, you you might do this, you might do that. So I think that’s the key. It’s like creating like a a mission based community. Like so my my thing is, like, let me help you share your your message with the world and, like, really reach your the the full potential that that you think you can that you believe in yourself. Right? And then helping other people do the same. So, like, kinda creating a mission around that. I think that’s gonna be key is, like, As opposed to it, just always being this here’s some here’s some tactical information that you can use.
Dan Sanchez [00:16:49]:
So you’ve essentially created a form where people can share where you can share, but other people are contributing to some of the ideas around content automation.
Stephen Pope [00:16:57]:
Yeah. And then also just creating video and also, like, building content teams. So, like, the the core pillars of my kinda services are, like, how do you make good video that can make money? How can you automate the process and how can you build a team to help you do it all? because those are, like, the 3 main pillars. Right? Like, you need all three of those in order to really get somewhere. Like, people if you if you’re like a solopreneur, you usually start off with a video editor. He’s helping you, but you’re still doing a lot of that work. So then you gotta then you like, no matter how much automation you have, you’re gonna need a good team — Yep. — to do all of that work for you. So, like, how can you actually build out beyond that video editor. What’s that next piece? I’m I’m starting to I’m starting to call that person a content specialist. It’s like, someone that can do video editing in, like, a tool like to script. Right? So you don’t need to have Adobe. Right? You can do it into script. You can make really good videos there. And then they can also run all the automations for you, and they can run the program, and they can so that you could the ideal, I think, for most busy entrepreneurs is they just wanna show up and record and do nothing else. And so that’s kinda, like, how can you how can you make that actually a reality?
Dan Sanchez [00:18:10]:
Yep. It’s hard because you got the art of the video happens down the line too, so somebody needs to be doing it correctly every single time. So when I someone I’m hiring a I called it a multimedia coordinator. but it’s it’s the exact kind of person you were just talking about. Right. They do light video editing, and they essentially make thing make sure things get posted to the right places at the right time with the right little titles and stuff. Right. And feed it to the AI and then kinda do they’re not writers, but they’re still fiddling with AI. So I’m hiring someone to do that right now because you could hire a VIT agency to slice and dice it. But I’m like, yeah. But then I have to go into the Google Drive and grab the stuff And I need someone to, like, post it to the right places, and it’s kind of annoying. So I need somebody to do all that. Yeah. Plus the agencies are gonna be expensive.
Stephen Pope [00:18:56]:
So, like, I think I think the people that are really gonna kill it are the people that build out their own little teams. I know not everyone wants to do that. Like, they wanna just, like, can I just hire an agency? I’m like, yeah. But they’re gonna charge you I mean, I’ve seen anywhere from, like, 25100 to 15000 a month. Right? And if you’re starting out, like, the ROI is not gonna be there. So you have to figure out how to, like, build out a really cost effective team. So, like, this person that you talk you talk about the multimedia specialist, whatever you said. Like, I think you go out there. You find somebody that’s really passionate about content in this whole thing. You worry less about some of the skills, and you find someone that’s passionate about that you can work with and get into the get into the into the mix. And, like, that’s actually actually gonna be a service I provided. It was like, I’ll help you put this person into your company. Maybe they’re in a different you know, maybe they’re in a like, the Philippines or someplace where they’re excited about this. They it’s a huge opportunity And you just train them to do all of these things, like the whole thing, like they can run the podcast, they can produce it, they can post it, they can get analytics, they can come up with topic research. Do the light editing. Or you might even say more advanced editing. I mean, Descript, that’s you do pretty cool stuff. Yeah. It’s funny. I don’t like Descript anymore. Oh, you don’t wanna use — — over and over again. I’m using Cap Cut.
Dan Sanchez [00:20:18]:
Oh, Cap Cut. It’s not — A lot of people like that. It doesn’t do some of the things Descript does, but I just find Descript to be annoying. Like, way too often. I’m like, click no. Come on. Click direct. Why isn’t this moving? And then it’s way too often. I’m like, where’s the tool for this? I how many times I’ve had to Google how to do exon Descript just is freaking annoying. A cap cut, for some reason, it’s intuitive. I’m like, where’s the oh, there it is. Bam. Bam. Bam. Okay. It’s done. It’s just fast. Yeah. You’re not alone. I’ve I’ve known a lot of people that that like CapEx. I’ve I’ve been playing with it. We we still use it in house, but it’s definitely been on my radar. That and I don’t like I don’t really the main thing people like about Descript editing via Word docs, I hate I hate that. I’d never edit via Word docs. I’d much rather be in the timeline screwing around there because I find that editing via Word doc Maybe it’s just because I’m more video oriented already. Mhmm. And I’m listening for it. I’m listening for the right amount of pause the clip. Mhmm. If you edit via the word doc, it’s probably not right.
Stephen Pope [00:21:19]:
Yeah. You have to fine tune it after. For sure. Like, you grab it by the word, and then you still gotta come in and do the the timeline. I I I know what you’re saying. Yeah. Like, I don’t have a video background. So, like, I’ve always just loved descriptive. Although I will say, like, in like, when they move to storyboard or whatever, Definitely went through a lot of, like, little annoying pain points like you mentioned that we didn’t we didn’t enjoy that process. And so I mean, I’m I’m not I’m not tied to any tool, but I will say this. Like, anybody that has get gets their content workflow going, like, Changing things is is a is a major endeavor. So be careful. Like, if you have something that’s working and you have a flow going, like, Be careful. I’ll go for you to change it. — painfully obvious to me right now since I just changed companies from Sweetfish to Element, an Element has a totally different tech stack on it like everything.
Dan Sanchez [00:22:09]:
I use Adobe. They use Figma. I use WordPress. They use — — company. They use Webflow. I’m like, crap. And then they they have a whole bunch of the project management tool is different. I’m like, oh my gosh. I’m used to an Asana world, and they use something called linear. I’m like drowning in the amount of tech changes. I’m having to deal with now. So get it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Find martech stack. State of the tech stack. It’s it’s, I think, finding, like, the new shiny object syndrome is probably one of the things that hurts marketing teams the most. Right? from when we surveyed people at Sweetfish and asked a 100 B2B marketing leaders, like, what’s the one major obstacle you have? And it it was they all said different things, but it came back to trying to do too with too little. Like, that was the overwhelming answer
Stephen Pope [00:22:54]:
to the major problem marketing team’s face. Yeah. because, like, you feel like you have to do so much. it’s you’re just kind of avoiding, like, the the the nitty gritty stuff you just gotta keep doing.
Dan Sanchez [00:23:06]:
Yep. Trying and then not being can they’re trying posting way too much over way too many places and not being successful in any of them because it actually takes ten times the amount ten times the amount of work to, like, grow on LinkedIn. or TikTok or whatever it is — Right. Right. Yeah. — and you’re spreading it out over way too many places and not being successful in any of them, which is what’s happening a lot. Yeah.
Stephen Pope [00:23:26]:
Yeah. So I post I so what I’ve kind of, like, learned is that I do post across lots of platforms. But I I’ve realized there’s platforms you’re trying to grow on versus, like, it’s just being there. So some people will find me somewhere and then go to their favorite platform and it’s nice to have my content there. But I’m not literally trying to grow there, and I’m not spending much time there, but I am there to answer a DM or 2 if they come through.
Dan Sanchez [00:23:51]:
there is something to that. Like, right now, of course, my main platform is LinkedIn, and then my secondary platform is podcast.
Stephen Pope [00:23:59]:
But I’ve — I’ve seen you on TikTok
Dan Sanchez [00:24:01]:
now. What goes well on LinkedIn now is, like, these TikTok formatted videos is what’s working on LinkedIn. So I’m making more of those. But, naturally, if you’re gonna put the time into making that video, well, you might as well freaking upload it to tiktok, Instagram, and YouTube too because you already made it, and you really don’t need to do too much to it to put it there. So I just put it there for the extra views and attention, but I’m not focused on growing on any of them. That’s the key. Like, you have to have these kinda, like, little
Stephen Pope [00:24:28]:
these little nuanced, like, understandings of things. Like, when people say how I wanna post everywhere, I know what they actually mean. They mean I wanna go and try to get clients from all those places. And I’m like, don’t try to do that. post it everywhere. Sure. But understand why you’re doing it. You’re either networking or you’re trying to grow. And — Yep. Having that understanding is important because otherwise, you will get distracted and you’ll you’ll waste time, like, somewhere where you shouldn’t.
Dan Sanchez [00:24:55]:
Yep. And I’d say for people just getting martech, who haven’t grown on any of them, don’t just ignore all of them. It’s better. Just go all in on one platform, figure that out, and then maybe later, once you’ve gotten a certain place and stability on that platform and growth point, then, you know, branch out to others or maybe go all in on a second one. like, Twitter if you’re on LinkedIn or Instagram if you’re on TikTok. But, you know, branch out slowly or do the thing I do where you’re kind of, like, post in a lot of places, but I I I don’t even check the DMs on those places. I’m literally just syndicating there because I’m already making the content for LinkedIn, so I might as well repost it. It takes an extra 2 minutes, so worth it.
Stephen Pope [00:25:35]:
Yeah. Yeah. LinkedIn to Harlan. What’s that?
Dan Sanchez [00:25:39]:
you mentioned something that you had a mission that your community is rallying around. Tell me a little bit more about that. So I find good good creators often they do things to require a new audience. They do things to retain audience. Usually, there’s something there’s something bigger than them that they’re driving towards. that people connect to in order to grow a certain amount of depth. And I heard you mention it, but I want you to go a little bit deeper on it. Yeah. So, like, for for for me, it’s like
Stephen Pope [00:26:03]:
Like, when I sold my previous company and I started over and I started to get started a new one and I started looking around and seeing all the video and social media stuff and Like, I had never really been a good communicator. I was always afraid of doing speeches, afraid of video, and I got over all that stuff. Probably because I I had to. Like, I had to figure it out. I had a lot of freedom from selling the company, but it wasn’t, like, a few money where I could just, you know, like, never do another thing. And I I I always I always had this nagging feeling as well. It’s just like, you know, I always felt like in my life, I could’ve I could’ve done more. I could’ve like, I’ve always done well, but I felt like I wasn’t reaching my full potential. And I think there was a I think there’s a lot of different reasons why that might be. but definitely one of them was, like, telling stories, communicating, getting my message out there. And so So kinda like the mission behind the the and and it kinda mixes a whole different a few different things of, like, my personality and, like, what I like to do. But, like, how can we help you like share your message with the world, right, and help you make the biggest impact that you can. And and then also help your customers make a big impact in their lives. So kind of like combining all those different things. And so that that obviously means, like, getting on video, telling persuasive stories, and then I have my own little interesting flare to it, which is all this content automation and bringing in my past technology experience to that’s kinda more the tactical side of helping people implement that. But it’s like, hey. That’s like that’s like share persuasive stories, make a big impact on the world, and help other people make a big impact. And so, you know, like and and especially with how the world is going. Right? So, like, All this stuff is just getting more and more intense. So I think it’s gonna become a more and more important skill to, you know, if you wanna start your own business, if you wanna have freedom, You’re gonna have to learn some of these things. Like, I’m sure you’re doing these different things to to do some you know, the you want the same things. Like, the writing’s on the wall. You don’t have to work for companies. And I’m not saying you you shouldn’t, but, like, I think, like, as we go, like, more and more, like, there’s gonna be more and more entrepreneurial opportunities and, you know, being able to, like, work with people 1 on 1 with more niche skills And and the world has never been more easy to do that. Right? So you can like like, I have a content automation niche Like, that would have been hard to do a while ago because you would never have reached the the scale the number of people that were interested in that to to make a business out of it. But now you can. So, like, these niche skills and these niche things, you can go into that really thing that that that niche that you’re passionate about and make a business out of it. And I think that’s really interesting.
Dan Sanchez [00:28:50]:
It is really interesting. I was just talking to Mason Cosby about it in the last episode. And he talked about, like, dang. Like, having an audience and having this platform has allowed him to level up in his job. And I’m like, dude, that’s it. Like, if you have an audience and you have are known for a thing, not only affords you better jobs, and you don’t have to hunt anymore because people either hunt you or when you do apply, they’re like, oh, shoot. Yeah. Heck yeah. Come on in. You just come in through the back door every time now. And then you can have an audience to either launch your own thing, have a side hustle, or kinda do a combination of all three or float between one or the other. You have freaking options now. The hard part is is that it it’s hard to get to that point where you have those options. So it’s a certain amount of building and freaking hustle you have to put in for at least a few years. in order to be able to afford that and to kind of have the ability to do that. Yeah. And I think it takes some guts. You know? Like, it’s kind of
Stephen Pope [00:29:46]:
it’s kinda like, it’s it’s really uncomfortable. like, pit you know, like because I I think what it ultimately comes down to is, like, people are afraid that they’re gonna cut off a bunch of people by going into where they actually wanna go. But if you but if you wrestle with these things, you’ll find something. So, like, Like, the fact that I know I’m I’m gonna help you create persuasive video, I’m gonna help you do the content automation and help you build the team around it. Like, I would never have, like, imagined that, like, before I started. I only found that through wrestling through the all of these different things. Right? And it just so happens that the content automation piece is kind of the entry point. for that. Like, that’s where I really stand out because no like, there are other people that’ll help you get on video. There are other people that will you know, I I haven’t seen it too much, but there are other people that help you build the content team. But there’s nobody that’s helping you do all that other stuff. And so if people can find you through your niche, and then they can be exposed to the other things that you can do, and then all of the other things that you can do. But if you talk about everything all the time, you’ll never be known for something. And the only people that can really do that are the people that have, like, Alex Ramosi or Gary Vee, where they have a $100,000,000 company. And this it’s this it’s such a huge success that your most generic advice is now super valuable. But if you’ve only done x, y, and z, and it’s not this thing that only a few people have done, like, just your generic advice about building a business or building a brand, it’s, like, nobody really cares. You know? It might be good advice, but nobody really cares because it’s like you’re not differentiated enough.
Dan Sanchez [00:31:22]:
It’s funny is I think Gary and and Alex have both taken the same path. They both had to niche down to something super specific first. and then added on and then added on and then blew up. Right? Gary V was a freaking wine guy on YouTube for a long time. a long time. That’s when I first heard about him. He was the wine guy. Like, I found out about his marketing success, about he was one of the first businesses to really figure out YouTube. Alex was the gym launch guy. At first, he was the gym guy, and then he became the gym marketing guy. And then that’s when his his content started on gym marketing. I read his I I went I liked his his $100,000,000 offer book so much. I went back and read gym launch just because I knew there’d be caret crossovers, of course. Yeah. it’s really good, but he was he was the gym marketing guy. Yeah. And and that niche is the thing that allows you to
Stephen Pope [00:32:13]:
like, break through the noise of all of the other things that people are talking about even when you might not be super big at it yet. You know? But it’s so niche that it’s different. And
Dan Sanchez [00:32:26]:
and and — Everybody starts to niche. You have to find it. It’s hard, but it’s always a story that you find it. And it doesn’t have to be an industry.
Stephen Pope [00:32:34]:
It can be a topic. Mhmm. So that’s the other mistake people make too. It’s just like
Dan Sanchez [00:32:40]:
It could be a type of audience. You work with thirty five year old blah blah blah. It just, like, just just niche it down somewhere. It could be a bunch of different ways, but It could be industry, could be topic, could be audience, could be location.
Stephen Pope [00:32:54]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Like, for me, like, for me, like, personally, I like topic because then I can kinda, like, mix my passions in there. Some of the other kinda ways to niche feel a little mechanical
Dan Sanchez [00:33:07]:
or arbitrary. I I usually like to layer them on top. Right? So — Right. — you find a topic, and then maybe you’re you’re the best fitness person in fill or something like that. You know? I mean, that’s still pretty generic because a lot of those people but, you know, you can layer them in such a way that you can find a niche niche there somehow.
Stephen Pope [00:33:23]:
Yeah. But it is also interesting too. And I I mean, every every business is different, but it has been interesting to, like, go down the path I’ve gone and then get an interesting mix of people like business owners, entrepreneurs, YouTubers, and then video agencies. Like, I would never have thought about that. But, like, that’s what’s kinda cool. Right? So that’s not industry specific. It came at it from a different angle. It was topic. And then what what
Dan Sanchez [00:33:49]:
industries does that topic end up solving a pain point for? Yep. Which if you’re listening to this and you’re like, you’re in the middle of trying to figure it out. This is part of why building an audience or doing it out in public is so important because you start getting feedback. You start seeing who’s getting the most help from it, and you could start refining it based on that. you started finding out the video agencies. You’ve probably developed some unique contents, some unique processes just around them. Right. Yeah. Because you find out that’s who you’re the most too. So now you can be even more helpful to them by spec creating new content and new business services for them. But you wouldn’t have found it if you had started and started posting about it and then started tailoring it to the audience. Right. And I actually found out that they’re in some cases, they are a better customer.
Stephen Pope [00:34:32]:
than the person that wants to build a personal brand. Because the funny thing about people that are building their personal brand is that they put it off. A video agency can’t put off video production. Yep. So they have to get the systems in place and and and implement the the thing that I did. Other people will install the system and then never use it. But a video agency has to or their business doesn’t move. So And I would I would just never have known that. Like, there’s no there was no way to just sit down and brainstorm that.
Dan Sanchez [00:35:01]:
So what are some of the next steps you’re taking to grow your audience?
Stephen Pope [00:35:07]:
Yeah. So I definitely want to get better at continue to get better at distributing content and, like, filtering it, you know, using the automations in the in the tools and the chat GPTs to, like, get it to the right place in the right format. and maintaining that high quality through all the different places. Like, that’s kinda like that that that it’s it always, like, I always feel that pressure to figure that out. So I’m I’m continuing to work on that. And then also just like making the products better and better, getting people better and better results. because I have found that, like, in the end, like, that’s that it has to come back to that. Like, you know, you can create all the fancy content, all but if you’d like to if the if the core of of everything that you’re doing, if the mission if the vision isn’t being achieved, then, you know, like, I I think it will all it will all eventually fall apart. And so, like, building that community helping people out making an impact on people. I think is the core of it. Like so but I do enjoy, like, all the distribution stuff. So, like, that’s a very tactical thing, but then there’s just that that that core of, like, really making an impact with people. And one and and having them talk about you on their own behalf without you having to ask them to do it.
Dan Sanchez [00:36:34]:
What have you learned about yourself in the process of building an audience?
Stephen Pope [00:36:38]:
That last part, I always forget about it, which is like like, you know, like, it’s like really trying to make an impact with people and, like, forgetting about all of the the tactical stuff and the technology and all that stuff. because I’m an engineer, so I like I like to just build things. And so it’s like I have to, like, continually like, I have something in my in my weekly routine. It’s just like, how are my clients doing? Like like, what what are they missing? You know, going back and just, like, tweaking the product and making it better and and focusing in on what do they really need and, like, where are they struggling. So, like, continually doing that as a product person is some people are just, like, are really good at that. I have to always remind myself to keep coming back to that because that seems to be where all the real growth is coming from. You know?
Dan Sanchez [00:37:26]:
gaining empathy from the customer.
Stephen Pope [00:37:29]:
Yeah. And, like, just, like, really helping them out. So they they really feel like you you’ve made a difference in their life, I think. You know? Like, that whole mission and vision stuff, like like, I have to force myself to do that because I can just get real technical and have fun being an engineer. You know?
Dan Sanchez [00:37:49]:
So let’s jump to the rapid fire questions. So 30 seconds are last answers. Okay? Alright. Now who influences your thinking the most on audience growth? And you’re not allowed to say me.
Stephen Pope [00:38:02]:
yeah, it’s it’s kinda changed over time. Like, in the beginning, it was like Chris Walker and Gary V. I I I feel like right now, I don’t have, like, an idle on that particular topic. But I still do think about some of those core people because I I feel like they always had, like, a genuine scent a a genuine center in core about what they were doing, and they weren’t always getting distracted by, like, shiny objects.
Dan Sanchez [00:38:29]:
Yep. Where’d you mostly consume their content?
Stephen Pope [00:38:33]:
Now it’s mostly like, I would say mostly TikTok. But I try not to consume too much because it’s like a real rabbit hole.
Dan Sanchez [00:38:42]:
What’s the largest obstacle you’re running into regarding audience growth?
Stephen Pope [00:38:49]:
I guess, ultimately, just more views. You know? just, you know, just trying to get more reach, I think, ultimately. And then and and staying — Am I posting more or just getting more per video? Yeah. More more per video. And then also just like I think also focusing in on that community aspect, like growing the community and being a part of communities in and doing that piece of it. because I think that’s an important part. It’s like this might go over 30 seconds, but, like, I’ll record a little little loom and I’ll post that into a community. And I’ve realized that it might only get 10 views, but those ten views from that Loom are are a lot more valuable in a lot of ways because, like, you know, it’s in these little trusted communities and There’s just there’s there’s more impact that those things are having, and they’re they’re tighter knit. So I think people have more trust in put more attention on them than just scrolling through something really quick.
Dan Sanchez [00:39:50]:
What single tactic has been the most reliable for you to acquire a new audience?
Stephen Pope [00:39:55]:
I I think that other one right now is the is the one that I’m trying to focus on is that community growth. Like, intermingling in these communities and dropping little things in there and tips and Like — In your community or in other communities? Other communities. Okay. Yeah. I mean, and TikTok was always a huge one because I just I think I got on there early, and I got a lot of traction there and chipping away at YouTube. That that has become, like, a a strong lead source. The leads that come from there tend tend to be like, real strong. Nice. And you’re — — the the YouTube.
Dan Sanchez [00:40:29]:
What companies are doing audience growth. Right?
Stephen Pope [00:40:35]:
Yeah. That’s a good question. I think school, that community platform, what what I see them doing is really smart. Like, they’re but that’s like a SaaS platform, but I think they’re doing it really well. They’re you know, they they have a strong referral program. And it’s it’s literally just making a good product so that everyone talks about it. I think that’s probably, like, the best
Dan Sanchez [00:41:01]:
growth. Do they have an audience?
Stephen Pope [00:41:05]:
Well well, here they’re they’re kinda lucky because the founder of it used to sell consulting services, and he got really big in the so he he already had an audience in a way. Oh, okay. So when he created the SaaS platform, this kinda makes it easy.
Dan Sanchez [00:41:22]:
Makes sense. Well, Steven, thank you so much for joining me on Audience Grow School. I’ve learned a ton from this. And I think what I’m going to do now is, like, audit my own automated systems and continually back and add new things as we go about it. I specifically think I need to jump into your community because I would benefit so much from finding some new things to to improve and automate because I’m big into this. Obviously, I’m a I’m with this podcast, I’m a one man show, so the more time I can save a little bit of processes slowly, but surely with each episode
Stephen Pope [00:41:53]:
is a lot of time saved. Yeah. You should check out the the content engine database. When we first talked, like, last year, it was kinda sold in a different way. now I’ve kinda packaged it up and do it yourself thing. And then I’ve got some free resources in there as well. So Yeah. I mean, I’d love to have you. I mean, you’d be a a great great addition.
Dan Sanchez [00:42:13]:
Work in the audience go to learn more about what you’re doing and where to connect with you. I think the best place now is in the community.
Stephen Pope [00:42:21]:
So if if you go to Google and you type Steve and G Pope with a pH, you’ll find my channels and if you wanna consume some of that content. But if you wanna interact and, like, learn about content, making good video, building and teams around it, and automating it, then check out academy.sgplabs.com. And there’s a whole group of people in there. It’s like almost 700 strong now, and it’s growing really quick. in the Engage community. I think that’s a great place to go. Awesome. Thanks again for joining me. Yeah. Thanks, man. It’s great to be on.
The Power of Content Creation Automation
As we delved into the topic of content creation automation, Stephen candidly shared his thoughts on the debate between using automation and avoiding it altogether. While automation can be dangerous as it dilutes the uniqueness of the content, Stephen believes that struggling with automation tools can actually provide a competitive advantage.
“I personally use automation for transcribing clips and then clean them up using Chad GPT. This process has been incredibly helpful and time-saving for me,” Stephen revealed. As someone who is dyslexic, digesting transcripts can be a challenge, but automation has made it easier for him to create high-quality content.
Building an Audience Beyond LinkedIn
Stephen has found success and audience growth on platforms like TikTok and YouTube, with 45,000 followers on TikTok and 2,510 subscribers on YouTube. When discussing the role of LinkedIn, Stephen explained, “I don’t believe I have a LinkedIn audience. LinkedIn is primarily a networking platform.” Instead, he focuses on platforms where he can build a true audience and community.
With his expertise in content automation, Stephen has not only learned how to create compelling content but also how to build up a growing community. He has quickly grown a community of around 700 people who are passionate about sharing their message and making an impact.
The Three Pillars of Content Automation
Stephen’s services revolve around the three pillars of making money through video, automating the process, and building a team. As we discussed the importance of building a team to handle the workload, Stephen talked about the addition of a “content specialist” who can leverage tools like toscript for video editing and automation.
“The goal is for busy entrepreneurs to only have to show up and record, leaving everything else to the team,” Stephen emphasized. It’s clear he sees the value in content automation over marketing automation and recognizes the role of a well-organized team in achieving scalability.
Continuously Improving and Making an Impact
Stephen’s passion for improvement and making an impact in people’s lives shines through as we discuss the challenges of content creation at scale. He shared his desire to emulate Gary V’s content creation abilities, even without the same resources.
“The core of our work is making an impact on people and building a community,” Stephen affirmed. He stresses the importance of continuously improving their products and achieving better results for their audience, ultimately aiming for voluntary word-of-mouth promotion.
Creating a Mission-Based Community
One of the most inspiring aspects of Stephen’s work is his focus on creating a mission-based community. He has built a community on a platform called School.com/contentdashacademy, where individuals can interact, share client calls, and take courses.
“Creating a space where people can interact and grow together is crucial. It’s not just about tactical information, but about helping others and building a sense of community,” Stephen emphasized. Through this community, individuals can share their message, reach their full potential, and collaborate with like-minded individuals.
Building a Cost-Effective Team
As we wrapped up our conversation, Stephen shared his insights on building a cost-effective team. Instead of hiring an expensive agency, he recommends creating a team of passionate individuals. Stephen even offers a service to help find and train multimedia specialists from different locations like the Philippines.
- Content creation automation can be a competitive advantage when used strategically.
- Focusing on platforms where you can build a true audience and community is key.
- Building a cost-effective team of passionate individuals is essential for scaling your content creation.
- Creating a mission-based community fosters collaboration and growth.
- Constantly improving and making an impact drives success and voluntary promotion.