How does a YouTube channel with less than 300 subscribers generate 6-figures a year?
In Joshua Lisec’s case, he does it by answering targeted questions, and selling high-value services to those viewers.
Joshua is an award-winning, celebrity-recommended, #1 international bestselling Certified Professional Ghostwriter. He’s also a TEDx speaker, a novelist, and has ghostwritten over 45 books for entrepreneurs, executives, and public figures.
Over the last few years, Joshua’s freelance work has gone from $1.67 an hour on his first writing project, to over $500,000 a year!
(Long-time listeners might remember him; Joshua appeared on the show in late 2016. In that classic Side Hustle Show episode, we talked through the OPA strategy — tapping into Other People’s Audiences — to sell your services.)
In this episode, we’re diving into another innovative marketing strategy involving YouTube. It’s one you can apply to your own business right away.
Tune in to hear Joshua explain:
- How he’s generating high value leads on YouTube with less than 300 subscribers
- The tools and techniques he’s using to optimize his YouTube videos to rank well
- How he bundled individual low paying freelance gigs for a high-value service
From Freelance Writer to Ghostwriter
“Well, the OPA strategy we talked about almost 4 years ago, it worked,” Joshua started out telling me.
Through this strategy and several other marketing methods, Joshua was trying to get the word out about his services.
He was tired of doing low paying gigs, however, and wanted to land high-value clients.
That’s when he decided to niche down and specialize in one of the most profitable freelance writing niches there is – ghostwriting.
Joshua was offering a range of individual services at the time. But found that by putting everything together in one value-driven package, he was able to attract those high-value clients he was looking for.
He put together a ghostwriting service which included:
- Creating the content for the book
- Ghostwriting all the content in the client’s voice
- Taking the client through the publishing process
- Helping launch the book by writing all the marketing material, and
- Helping to convert the readers of that book into high-ticket clients
Why Did You Decide to Niche Down on Ghostwriting?
“It was the depth of the relationship and the value,” Joshua explained.
Joshua worked with a client whose book generated more than $300k in business in the months following the release. He did a case study on this, and it’s continued to generate new business for him to this day.
It’s that kind of impact and value that gets Joshua excited to work on these ghostwriting projects. He didn’t, and couldn’t get the same results doing writing gigs for website copy, or reworking people’s LinkedIn profiles.
How to Find High-Value Clients?
Joshua’s YouTube channel had less than 300 subscribers when we recorded, but it’s a consistent source of leads and projects. “Well over half of my clients have found me [on YouTube]”, Joshua told me.
This is due to his high conversion rate. Joshua told me that if someone is ready to buy and they find one of his videos, it isn’t a hard decision for them to click a link in his description and book a call.
What’s It Like Being “Behind the Scenes” as a Ghostwriter?
Being a ghostwriter means you’re often not credited with the work that goes into the books. Joshua has a confidentiality agreement with about 80% of his clients, and he’s perfectly fine with that.
Joshua said the 20% that are happy to share with the world that he was behind the book more than makes up for it in terms of giving him the exposure and recommendations he needs.
This is also where using YouTube has helped him. He’s able to demonstrate the experience he has and some of his skills by talking about it, without having to reveal the projects he’s worked on.
What Type of Content Should Freelancers Publish on YouTube?
Joshua had an understanding of search engine optimization (SEO), so he was very deliberate about making videos that were going to be found on YouTube and in the Google search results.
In fact, he has developed a two-step process over the last few years to get noticed within YouTube’s algorithm for very competitive keywords.
Here’s what Josuha does to optimize his videos:
Step 1 – Keyword Research
He finds the keywords people are typing in around his topic using a Chrome extension called KeywordsEverywhere.
For example, if he wants to make a video about “book proposals”, he’ll type this keyword into Google and see the suggested keywords KeywordsEverywhere brings up.
This tool also gives a competitive score and the monthly search volume for keywords. Joshua said the sweet spot for him are keywords with a search volume of 100-1,000 searches per month.
Step 2 – YouTube Optimization
To narrow down his keywords to the ones he’s going to use for the title of his video he uses another Chrome extension called TubeBuddy.
As Joshua types his list of keywords from KeywordsEverywhere into YouTube, TubeBuddy gives each keyword a score 1-100 based on how competitive it is.
The higher the score, the better chance you have of ranking for that keyword.
With the book proposal example, keywords like “how to write a book proposal”, and “book proposal tips”, were very competitive. But “book proposal sample” showed up as being not too competitive, so Joshua titled his video this and ranks well for it.
What’s Your Video Production/Structure Like?
The first thing Joshua pointed out is that while he’s tried lots of the high-tech equipment professional podcasters and YouTubers use, he said the best video and audio quality he’s been able to produce is from his smartphone!
So, no excuses. “If you have a smartphone, you can begin getting clients on YouTube as of today,” Joshua said.
As for the type of videos that are working best, he uses a mix of talking directly into the camera, or screen sharing software if he needs to provide some visuals.
For a call-to-action, Joshua does two things:
- At the end of his videos, he lets viewers know they can book a “Free profitable book roadmap,” and explains how he can help them and where to find the link in the description for the video.
- He also adds a comment to each of his videos explaining how they can book a call with him and gives them the link to click. This comment stays pinned as the top comment so it’s the first comment people see.
(I’ve been using Screencast-o-Matic for video editing lately.)
From Free Calls to Paying Clients
Joshua’s call-to-action is booking a discovery call with him. During this call, he discusses with each client how he will create a profitable book roadmap for them.
On his website, he explains this is a 60-minute call. At the end of the call, the client will have:
- a profitable book idea
- direction for each chapter
- a plan to convert readers into high-ticket customers
He’s also included a “book value calculator” on his website. Using this tool, a client can get a clear picture of how much they can potentially earn through releasing a low-cost ebook.
Joshua got the idea for this calculator from clients sharing how much they made in sales through leads funneled from their ebook.
One client, in particular, made more than $1 million in sales through the book and funnel Joshua created for him, and he has a testimonial about this on his site.
How Are You Splitting Your Time on Your Business?
Joshua dedicates one day a week to produce a video, the rest of his time is spent writing for his clients.
He’s become a lot more productive over the years. He remembers his first book taking him 3 years to complete.
That was a little different though, he was writing his own book and struggled with writer’s block. Fortunately, “there is no such thing as ghostwriters block,” Joshua said.
His clients provide the ideas, experiences, and stories, his job is just to ask them “what’s the best way to say this,” and write their story how they want it to sound.
He also has a few templates, so he’s never starting from scratch. He also uses speech-to-text to speed up the writing process.
“What’s been getting me excited actually is real estate,” Joshua told me.
He’s been buying properties and is enjoying the passive income from rental checks. The money from his properties is covering some of his family’s living expenses, so he has plans to buy more properties in the future.
No plans to stop doing his ghostwriting though, regardless of how many rental properties he buys. Joshua loves what he does, and says it’s intellectually stimulating, exciting, and entertaining to be a ghostwriter.
Joshua’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
2016: “Connect your service to an unsolved problem or an unmet goal.”
2020: “Convert hourly services into a package.”
Links and Resources from this Episode
- Joshua’s YouTube channel
- Joshua’s TEDx talk
- Joshua’s first appearance on episode 201 of The Side Hustle Show
- Side Hustles for Writers
- Freshbooks.com – Start your 30-day free trial today!
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