Jeremy Gislason | Online Marketer’s Friend

This time, we're chatting with someone who's made and continues to make a real impact in the world of online marketing. He's one half of the duo behind Promote Labs, who have developed products such as ProductDyno Feedback Fox and Post Gopher, alongside hundreds, if not thousands, of other information products and websites and so on. Together with his business partner, Simon Hodgkinson, Jeremy Gislason is also a super affiliate product creator and even licences various online.

audio-interview Jeremy Gislason

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Jeremy Gislason and Business Partner Earned 3Million+ Together Before They Even Met In Person

TRANSCRIPT:

Jeremy Gislason:

Hi, happy to be here.

Martyn Brown:

Well, my first question is, based on what I've just said, when do you rest?

Jeremy Gislason:

When do I rest? Well, yeah, I mean, actually, I mean, I wouldn't say resting, but I try to take a lot of breaks. I work from home, so no commute, no stressful office conditions. It's a pretty relaxed atmosphere. So about every hour, I'll just get up from a desk and go play with the dogs or go outside and sit on the patio or talk to my wife or just run an errand. And so I don't really feel like I'm working all day. I just do things as needed, whether it's morning, afternoon, nighttime, whatever. I just kind of just do things. So, yeah.

Martyn Brown:

It's obvious that you enjoy what you do.

Jeremy Gislason:

Yes.

Martyn Brown:

Maybe you could tell me a little bit more about your background and how Promote Labs came about.

Jeremy Gislason:

Sure. I mean, everything has a long story, but I'll try to give the short version. So I was living in Japan back in the 90s. That's where I met my wife and we had three boys over there and we had our own English school where I taught English as a second language back in the 90s. I was a bit younger back then, had a bit more energy and it was a lot of fun. I worked with a lot of kids. But after a couple years I just kind of knew, hey, I don't want to be doing this when I'm in my 40s because it takes a heck of a lot of energy to be jumping around with the kids and singing and dancing and talking and running and playing. So I started kind of looking for passive income opportunities and I read the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad when it came out, by Robert Kiyosaki and that kind of made me think, "Okay, passive income. How do I do it? Where do we start?"

Jeremy Gislason:

And this is kind of when the internet was just getting going. And so we actually started looking at real estate, network marketing, just other opportunities that were around. And then the internet, we found the internet, bought our first computer. Started going online and checking things out and I'm like, "Huh, interesting." So there's people with newsletters, there's people building websites, there's people doing things online and making some money and I'm like, "Okay." And I saw Amazon pop up and I'm like, "Okay." So now you have some income coming in 24/7, even if you're sleeping. That really clicked. So I just kind of started looking around for things to do. Lost a lot of money in the process, but it was a learning experience. I call it the same as going to college where you just spend some money and learn.

Jeremy Gislason:

So that's what I did on my own for a few years. Ended up at a company called ISO Register and there is where I kind of met a lot of connections. A lot of whom I still keep in touch with today. I met Frank Kern, Mike Filsaime, John Reese, just a lot of people. And back in the early days, Andrew Fox, just a lot of good guys and we just kind of hit it off here and there. Some people I've lost touch with over the years, but others I've kept in touch with. And I kind of learned how things work and it was just really interesting to me how things could be done. I mean, this is like web one. This was before social media. So it was just really interesting. So I learned how web one works, put up websites, build mailing lists and that was one key that's always stuck with me is make sure you build your list. No matter what you do, you need to be building your mailing list, your contact list.

Jeremy Gislason:

So I just really enjoyed it and I thought, "Okay, I can do this at home, it's low overhead and high ROI." I was like, "Cool." So I just started doing it. Got into digital marketing. I mean, I remember when Ryan Deiss was just getting started, Russell Brunson was just getting started. We used to talk and stuff. And it just really fun. And we started making products and just seeing what worked, what the market wanted. I started my first website on my own, was surefirewealth.com. And the problem that I saw was there were a lot of resell rights, private label rights, eBooks, software on the market, and people were selling stuff and it was just a hodgepodge of ways to deliver stuff. It was like, sign up, maybe you got the thank you page, maybe didn't. Maybe you'd get the email, maybe didn't. It was just a mess. And if you did get access, it was just like a thousand links on a page. It was just a mess.

Jeremy Gislason:

So I saw a problem. I tried to solve it with Surefire Wealth where I made a membership site, kind of was inspired by Amazon. So I was kind of like, "Okay, if I kind of do what they're doing, but with resale rights and private label rights, maybe it'll be easy for people to find stuff, figure stuff out." I added reviews, people could comment on stuff, everything was nicely laid out. So at the time, back in like 2004, 2005, it was pretty cool. I mean, now it's kind of redundant, but back then it was pretty cool. And some of the people that I had gotten to know over the years asked them, "Hey, would you be interested in promoting this?" And they're like, "Yeah, sure." Some people like Joel Comm and Mike Filsaime and a lot of other people would go promote it. And that really was a light bulb moment. I was like, "Holy cow." These guys just sent thousands of people to my website. I'm now paying these people thousands of dollars in commissions. I'm like, "Maybe I could do that. Maybe I could also be an affiliate marketer on the side too."

Jeremy Gislason:

So that was kind of another light bulb moment. So I went from learning web one, solving some problems, making connections, and then building passive income, but then seeing how affiliate marketing worked at the same time. So everything just kind of rolled into each other. So then during that process, I met Simon, who's currently my business partner, Simon Hodgkinson, and we started off by being each other's customers, which is kind of funny. I would buy everything he put out, because he put out some, he's really good graphics designer and a writer. So I would just buy everything he had. And I would buy the extended licences and put them in Surefire Wealth. And then he would buy stuff from me, I'd buy stuff from him. We just got to talking and we're like, "Why don't we do something together?" "Well, yeah, sure."

Jeremy Gislason:

So we put something together. I think it was like six to eight weeks and it was called the Marketing Main Event and this was back in like 2006 or something. And we got some of our friends to promote it. Did pretty well, did like a couple hundred thousand or something in a week. And to us that was another light bulb moment. I'm still running the English school and I'm just going, "Hmm, maybe there's something here." So I was like, "Okay, I think maybe I could start to transition to online 100%." So over the next couple years, me and Simon partnered up, we released version two, version three, which became Member Speed software. That was kind of the predecessor to ProductDyno. And it was basically a software SaaS that let people build membership sites back in the mid 2000s when it was a pretty new concept and it was very hard to do. And it did pretty well. And the real eye opening was when we did 1.7 million in a week.

Martyn Brown:

Wow.

Jeremy Gislason:

My wife had no clue what I was even doing. And she just saw me writing stuff on whiteboards and doing stuff during my breaks and at night. And she's like, "What are you doing?" I'm like, "Oh, just working on some stuff." So me and Simon were quite shocked but happy. But then we were like, "Okay, it's time to get serious." So that's when we formed a company together. At the time it was called Member Speed, Inc., which we later changed a few years later to Promote Labs, Inc. So same company, but that's kind of how it got started. And since then we've just been going. We've been creating more software as a service solutions. Some are bigger like ProductDyno, which helps people deliver their product securely online. It helps course creators with certifications for their students, all kinds of cool stuff. And then we have little simple apps such as Feedback Fox or Post Gopher, which are very simple. They do one thing. But they help people to either build their list, sell content, take surveys, build a landing page.

Jeremy Gislason:

We have another one called FlipGuardian, which is aimed at publishers and authors, which helps them to sell a book. Say if Stephen King has a new book, he wants to show it to his audience, give a preview. He could use something like FlipGuardian very easily. People could flip through it and they could buy it right there. So we just keep building stuff and seeing what works. And a lot of stuff, I mean for every one product we have out, there's probably 10 that we've scrapped or sold off.

Martyn Brown:

Really?

Jeremy Gislason:

And there's probably 50 that me and Simon are like, "No." During brainstorm sessions where you just be like, "No, not doing this one." So yeah, over the years, just a lot of things. And then as well as courses, because we made a lot of courses based on things that we've done or things that we see. And now we have a team of researchers who do the research for us. We tell them what we want research. They'll go research the topic, write about it. We'll add our touch. That'll be a new course. So we have a whole line of coaching programmes as well now. So yeah, that's kind of the journey. Went full time back in the mid to late 2000s and we phased the English school out. Simon's a brilliant copywriter. So he kind of did the same thing. He transitioned full time online as well. About the same time I was. So yeah, it's just been fun ever since.

Martyn Brown:

I was going to say, I mean, it's a fascinating story in so much that you've both kind of come to this and by coming together you've created probably a much bigger company maybe than you both envisaged when you first set out. Is that fair to say?

Jeremy Gislason:

Yeah, we had no intention of actually forming a company or doing anything like that when we started. We didn't sit down and go, "Hey, let's form a company and make a billion dollars." We're just like, "Okay, maybe we could create something together, have fun doing it and help a lot of people on the way." And that's kind of what we did. And it was fun. That's the main thing. Me and Simon really get along. And he's very creative, he has a lot of ideas. And then I'm kind of more on the execution side. So we fit, we work well together.

Martyn Brown:

That's good. And what was he doing prior to working on Promote Labs?

Jeremy Gislason:

Well, believe it or not, he was selling gearboxes back in the 90s. He was like a sales rep for a gearbox company all around the UK. One of the top gearbox companies. They would sell to like, I don't know, fire trucks and like big rigs and stuff like that. So yeah, he had to do a lot of sales work back then. And then he started building websites, I think, back in the early 2000s for people and yeah, so he was kind of doing the same thing I was doing, trying to figure stuff out.

Martyn Brown:

Sure. And one of the things I've not touched on yet is the fact that you guys are in different locations. You're based in the USA, is that right? And he's based in the UK.

Jeremy Gislason:

That's right. And the funny thing is, as I mentioned, I was in Japan, moved to the US with my family late 2000s. But me and Simon worked together for about two or three years without ever actually meeting in person. And we made like two, three million together without actually ever meeting.

Martyn Brown:

That's crazy.

Jeremy Gislason:

Yeah. This is before the work at home stuff and the zoom stuff and all the post COVID stuff where everybody's at home. Nobody was doing that and we just trusted each other. We'd just hop on Skype and talk and I mean, we didn't even have video calls back then. It was just audio. We just trusted each other and just kind of went with our intuitions and it worked out.

Martyn Brown:

I was going to ask, is it difficult being in different places, but from what you're saying, not really.

Jeremy Gislason:

Me and Simon have talked about this and we're like, if we were together in the same office, we'd probably wouldn't get as much work done because we'd just be busy goofing off or going out for beers after work. So we find we're a lot more productive just working on our own. But then holding each other accountable each week when we have our meetings, we try to have a meeting once a week, every Monday. And he talks about what he's working on, I talk about what I'm working on. We talk about our goals, what we need to accomplish and different things. So yeah, it works out.

Martyn Brown:

And where do the ideas come from, Jeremy? Because as you say, you do so much, you've got courses, you've got software as a service, you've got the main company to run as well. Where do your ideas come from? And is it difficult to manage so many things? And another question, I'm just firing at you now, how many people work in the Promote Labs ecosystem?

Jeremy Gislason:

Sure. Well believe it or not, we have a really small team. We have, there's basically, we had three full-time support staff, now it's two. And they handle things just fine. We have two writing teams. And then we have a developer team with our business partner Franz on ProductDyno. And then we have another coder that we partnered with, Simon Phillips in the UK who codes a lot of our other softwares, such as FlipGuardian and PageDyno and Commission Gorilla. So we have a project manager in the US, we have an account in the US. So everybody's remote, they're all spread out and we just use Slack. So it's less than a dozen people. But then some of those people have teams of their own. For example, our coding teams, they manage their own teams and then we just talk with the head of the company. So we do some of that as well.

Jeremy Gislason:

But we like to keep things small and I've always liked that, I think it was Jeff Bezos said, I think it was the pizza team or something like that. I don't know if you've ever heard that, but it's like, "Don't have too many people on a project if they can't eat," or how did that go? It's something like, "If you have two large pizzas and there's too many people on a team that they go hungry, then it's too big of a team." Something like that. It's like just enough people to eat too large pizzas is perfect for a team size. So that's kind of how we look at it. We keep things small. Otherwise it gets hard to manage.

Jeremy Gislason:

And we've been using Slack for, I don't know how many years now, four or five, six years or something, whenever it came out. And it's like our virtual office. So every day we go in there and we talk and everybody updates things and it just works really well. We have not used email internally for about five years. So all we do is use Slack and then sometimes we use Skype and that's about it for our team. And sorry, what was your first question?

Martyn Brown:

Just about the process that you go through.

Jeremy Gislason:

Oh yeah. Creativity. Well, I thank a lot of that to Simon. Simon is super creative. His mind is always wandering and he's always just pulling stuff out of the air. He's like, we'll get on a meeting and I just talked to him the week before and he'd be like, "Hey, let me run this idea by you and tell me if it's really dumb or if it's awesome." And like every week he's got ideas. And a lot of them just don't make it past the idea phase, but the ones that do, sometimes they eventually turn into product. And we just try stuff. We don't try to overanalyze too much. And then analyst perilous where you just don't ever release something.

Jeremy Gislason:

So we just kind of go with our gut. We'll go through a lot of ideas and then we'll see where the market's at. And I try to look where we're headed. A lot of people look at the past, but I try to always look at the future like, "Okay, this worked five years ago, but is it going to work next year?" So where are things headed? And then we try to create things around that. Or if we see a hole or a need that needs to be filled or something like that. So we're always trying to solve problems. And in the beginning we were trying to solve our own problems. So that was a big one.

Jeremy Gislason:

For example, when we created Member Speed, we just wanted that for ourselves. So we wanted a membership software that we could use to build our own membership sites because we had dozens of them back then. So rather than licence something that would cost 10, 20,000 a year, we built [inaudible 00:18:59]. Same with page builders, same with other things. We built a countdown timer software about six years ago before page builders had integrated those into their platforms because we wanted one and nobody had one. And so we just made one. So a lot of times we'll have a problem ourselves and then we'll see, "Hey, could we make this or do we need to buy this?" And if it's something like Slack, of course we need to buy it. But if it's something a little simpler that could be done, we'll make it. That's just kind of how we roll.

Martyn Brown:

It's a good philosophy to have, I think as well. One other question I do have is you said that sometimes Simon comes up with dumb ideas or good ideas. What is his dumb to good ratio? Would you say?

Jeremy Gislason:

I guess I shouldn't dumb because no idea is dumb. I guess. I guess that was the wrong word to use. I should have said maybe crazy instead. Crazy ideas. Well, I mean there have been a few ideas that have come out where it sounded great, but then after we worked out, we would need like 100 million dollars to make it happen. So we're like, "Okay, we'll pass on that one." Just, I don't know. There've been so many. I've lost track.

Martyn Brown:

Well, I mean you've obviously seen some great success during your time working together. Has there ever been an issue that's come up where you've put a whole lot of time, effort, energy, and perhaps even money into an idea only to go, "This is never going to work." And you've had to walk away from that idea?

Jeremy Gislason:

All the time.

Martyn Brown:

Really?

Jeremy Gislason:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I think it was just last year we spent probably six months on a new software project. And by the time it was half done we're like, "This is just never going to work." So we just scraped it. So yeah, there's a lot of that stuff. The thing is we try to find, once we have the idea and the vision and the framework, we always try to find the who to get it done because there's no way we could be doing it all ourselves. So I think that's pretty important is to always, don't think, "How do I do this," think, "Who can I get to do this?" So if we need a writer, if we need somebody to make videos, if we need somebody to make a sales page, a graphic, a software, whatever it is, we try to find a who and get that person to do that.

Jeremy Gislason:

So on our team, we have people who have specific tasks, like one person manages the blog, the writing, another one manages the blog security, other people take care of the help desk. And then when we have ideas, we're like, "Okay, here's our idea. We need you to do X, Y, Z. We need you to do ABC," that kind of thing. And we'll kind of get everybody involved doing something to help the project come together. So that's kind of what we try to do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Martyn Brown:

And how do you keep each other motivated? Because I guess that there must be an element of that. Everybody at times feels deflated or especially if you work on a project that then you have to scrap six months down the line. So how do you keep yourselves motivated?

Jeremy Gislason:

Well, for one, we try not to get overly attached to our projects because if you do, then you're never going to let go. You'll never be able to exit the project. And exiting means either to sell it or to close it. Hopefully to sell it and keep it growing. So that's one thing. Another thing is, through our weekly meetings we just talk about stuff and keep each other motivated. But I don't know, I've just kind of always been motivated my whole life. I listen to a lot of Tony Robbins type of stuff. Everyday, I probably spend one to two hours a day learning stuff in either our industry or other industries. And that's usually via podcast that I listen to, newsletters I subscribe to, industry news sites that I read, things like that. So that kind of gets me excited and keeps me going, because there's always something new.

Jeremy Gislason:

I'm like, "Oh wow, this is cool." And I'll talk to Simon about the next week, "Hey, did he see this?" And, "Hey, maybe we could do something like that," and "Hey, maybe we could fit this in somewhere," and, "Oh wow." It's always kind of like that. But then also, we have families to take care of as well. And that's probably been the biggest motivator for both of us. Simon has a son and I have three and I was like, "Okay, I want to make sure they have a good life." So that kind of inspired me every day to get up and get to work.

Martyn Brown:

Sure.

Jeremy Gislason:

To make my wife happy and all that stuff.

Martyn Brown:

I was going to say, have your family been supportive along your journey?

Jeremy Gislason:

Oh yeah. 100%. 100%. I'm so grateful to my wife for fully supporting me, especially in the early years when I was losing money rather than making money. She just kept encouraging me. She's like, "Okay, well, now you know what didn't work." So yeah, she's been great. Yeah.

Martyn Brown:

Have you any idea how many companies, entrepreneurs, businesses that your products have touched over the years? Any clue?

Jeremy Gislason:

Oh wow.

Martyn Brown:

It's a big question, right?

Jeremy Gislason:

Yeah. I mean, as far as customer list, I mean, I think we figured out a year or two ago that we had sold over 130,000 products of our own, like just the number.

Martyn Brown:

Wow.

Jeremy Gislason:

Over the last 15 years or 20 years. So I guess all of those people who bought something, some bought multiple products, but I don't know, let's say 100,000 customers. And then if they're using our software, their customers would see, so for example, if one of our ProductDyno customers now has 50,000 members in his membership site, they're seeing our product and they're using it every day. If somebody buys a licence to one of our courses and sells it to 10,000 people, so that's really hard to track. So I don't know. I would like to say, I hope we've touched a million people over the last 20 years. Maybe that's being optimistic. I don't know. But yeah, everybody that we can help inspire or get ideas, I'm grateful for.

Martyn Brown:

Sure. I mean, there's an old phrase that, "Small hinges sweep big doors." Is there any tips from your journey, Jeremy, that you'd like to share with people to help them improve their business or again, to motivate them to get started?

Jeremy Gislason:

Right. Well, yeah. Everybody's motivated by different things. I think you don't want to be just motivated by money alone because you'll get burned out. You need to have some kind of desire or something inside. Like for me it was always family, but also freedom. So freedom was a big motivator for me. I did not want to be commuting. I did not want to be going to an office, having somebody tell me when I can take a bathroom break, when I can eat lunch, I might as well go to prison. So that was a big motivator for me, is freedom. And then providing a good life for my family. And basically not selling myself by the hour, so to say. Because there's only so many hours in a day. So anybody who's trading time for money is going to have a threshold that they're going to hit. And even if it's a million dollars, it's still a threshold. So if you can leverage your time, if you can figure out how to leverage your knowledge or leverage what you do, or what you know as a creator, then that's the key there.

Jeremy Gislason:

So you need a motivation, whatever motivates you, and then try to figure out how to leverage your time. Too many people are thinking, "Well, I don't have time." I hear it a lot. "Yeah, I'd like to start a business, but I just don't have time." "Yeah, I've been thinking about making this course. I just don't have time." And it's a constant excuse. You got to make the time. You got to find it. I mean, I was running two businesses at the same time, plus taking my kids out and stuff, dropping them off at school every day and playing with them in the parks. So you got to figure out how to leverage and the best way to do that is to start building a team.

Jeremy Gislason:

And that's another thing that people say, "Well, I can't afford a team." Well partner with somebody or if you don't have enough money to pay him, maybe put him on profit share. I remember when I was starting, a guy I knew he had like 10 or 12 people on his team. Nobody got a salary, they just all split the profits of whatever happened. So that's one idea. So anything you can do to be motivated, use leverage, and then don't think how, think who. Who do I get to do this for me? And then what do I do? So look at what you're good at, what you can do well. You should be doing that task. And then whatever you can do to grow the company you should be doing. But anything else that either you don't enjoy or you're not good at, outsource it or hire somebody or partner with somebody.

Martyn Brown:

Great advice. And also I love the advice of play to your strengths. Don't try and do things that you don't enjoy because that way it's a dead end in many ways because you'll just talk yourself out of doing it because you're not enjoying it.

Jeremy Gislason:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Martyn Brown:

Yeah. Well Jeremy, thank you so much for being so generous with your time and your knowledge and telling us more about the background of Promote Labs and the products that you have. For anybody that's interested in finding out more about you and Simon and the work that you do together, where do we need to head to?

Jeremy Gislason:

Sure. Well, I'd say the best place would be promotelabs.com. And one thing that I didn't mention. So I mentioned a lot about how I got started in web one, and then we evolved during the web two revolution. And now, as some people might have heard, we're hitting web three. And this is something me and Simon and are very excited about, is web three. And we first heard about a lot of these things several years ago. We were kind of early to bitcoin back in 2014, 15. Some things didn't work out, but we tried. But now with the metaverse and NFTs and a lot of things, it's very exciting.

Jeremy Gislason:

So we're also working on some new NFT projects that we're launching this summer. And the best way to hear about those would be to make sure you're either on our mailing list or a customer with our blockchain bundle would probably be the best way to go. So if you just head over to promotelabs.com, you can find information there about all of our courses, all of our products, you can join our mailing list. That's probably the best way to stay up to date about what we're doing on things. And if you want to follow me on Twitter, I'm at JeremyAGislason, Twitter. I don't use Twitter that much, but once in a while I'll post something. I'll say the best way would be to get on our mailing list to get our updates.

Martyn Brown:

Fantastic. Well, again, Jeremy, thank you so much for your time today. It's been an absolute pleasure and we're sending our best to you and to Simon for the future as well.

Jeremy Gislason:

Yeah. Thank you very much.

Source: MarketingBugle.co.uk

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