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Ep.32: Make Money as a Content Creator with Sam Kabert

INTRO

In today's conversation, I got to talk with Sam Kabert. He is an expert on work-life balance. 

He calls it soul life balance, and he's going to explain a little bit more about what that means. 

I know for any freelancing or entrepreneurial parent out there, having that balance is extremely important because the whole purpose of what we're doing here is to help you learn how you can earn more money in less time working from home so that you can spend the time you want with your family. The time that they really deserve.

Sam spent a lot of his early career building up a lot of success. He's built million dollar businesses, but throughout that whole time, he was able to only work a few hours per day. His path led him to being named in Silicon Valley's 40, under 40 list at the age of 31.

It took some time for him to eventually realize that he wasn't overly happy, even though he had a lot of success because he didn't understand the soul life balance part of the equation. 

He’s going to talk about that today. Sam's overall mission is to reframe the way that we look at our lives, as it relates to work and realize where work should be placed in the formula that is enjoying our life. 

Sam's also going to talk a little bit about how to make money as a content creator, because we talk about all sorts of different types of freelancing and entrepreneurial stuff that you could do working from home. 

One of those things is being a content creator, and whether you're creating videos on YouTube, blog posts, or whatever it is you're creating, how you can make money creating content. Sam's going to discuss some tips with you today on what the possibilities are with that.

 

Chad:

First, I want you to introduce yourself and share a bit about how you built your business and what kinds of things you've been involved in. 

With only a few hours a day of working, you've really figured out how to master having the right balance and having the right approach to building up success

A lot of our audience are busy raising families and they want to figure out how to earn more money in less time working from home. And we'd love to hear a little bit about your story and what you've managed to achieve.

 

Sam:

Absolutely. Thank you, Chad. Yeah, so I've been an entrepreneur pretty much since day one of my career. I started my business in college and that was about 10 years ago. So it's been going strong ever since. 

I initially had employees. I started in 2011, and I probably had employees around 2013, 2014. I had gotten interested in working with virtual assistants, because of Tim Ferris. Everyone knows Tim Ferris these days, but they might be more familiar with his podcast. But what really got him started, in my opinion, was the Four Hour Workweek. I read that book and it was like, “oh, wow!” That's cool. 

He has this concept of the NR, which stands for the “new rich.” Basically it comes down to figuring out how much money you need to make on a monthly basis to live your dream lifestyle, and then building your business around that. 

One of the things he talks about is working with freelancers. 

So when I first got started I liked to joke that it was kind of like going to the candy store and filling up on samples. We all do that five-finger discount on taffy and then end up buying something else after you're already full from the taffy. Then you're kind of disappointed when you walk away. That's what it was like for me when I first started working with virtual assistants. 

I went to fiverr.com, which is a website where you can hire people: freelancers, VA's, whatever, to do pretty much anything for like five bucks at minimum for a task. 

So I knew what projects I really wanted done, but I also had these other things I might want to do, like maybe a whiteboard drawing or whatever. And it was like sampling, because it was only five bucks. 

But at the end of the day, it just wasn't moving the needle, so I kind of forgot about it for a few years. That is, until I started my first podcast that we launched in January of 2017, and I quickly realized that I did not want to be doing the editing of the audio. I didn't want to build a website, do the IT stuff. I didn't want to do graphic design, any of that. 

For that project, right off the bat, there were opportunities, and working with VA's suddenly made a lot of sense. 

I had employees in my business, but the podcast was essentially a lead gen funnel to drive traffic to the business. 

So instead of just waking up one day and wondering, “how can I put VA's in my business?” I kind of accidentally fell into it through the podcast. 

Since then I've had five of my own podcasts, and I've managed four others. So a total of nine plus a couple of YouTube shows. So I've done video editing. I wrote three books in a year. I’m really a serial content creator. 

After about a year or so of working with VA's on those initial podcasts I had an employee that I had to let go, just before my right hand man in my business gave his two weeks notice. 

I joked that I did what all great entrepreneurs do when something like that happens: I ordered a pizza and I got a six pack of beer. 

I said, “I'm not going to bed until I figured this out.” That's why I made the conscious decision to just move forward in my business with a virtual assistant model. Now it's probably been about four years that we've been going with just VA's. 

So with all my various projects, content creation, and my businesses, everything is managed by VAs now. I probably have a core team of like eight virtual assistants, but up to like 15 for different things and backups. 

In my new business, I teach entrepreneurs how to scale their business by building out virtual assistant teams.

 

Chad:

That's great. So is that the main thing you're involved in now? 

 

Sam:

I kind of dance back and forth between two businesses because they don't require too much time. 

It's kind of just where my intention needs to go because I've built both of my businesses so that the team really is running it. 

I don't have to be involved too much. I check both email inboxes multiple times a day. But I wouldn't say I have a larger focus on one than the other. 

Maybe a larger focus on the VA one, because that's where I want to go. 

It's called Clone Yourself. That's the name of the business, and I'm still growing it. It's only been two years, whereas Swag Works, my first business, I started back in college about 10 years ago. That business is rocking and rolling, so I don't really need to do too much there.

 

Chad:

Sure. Well, that's great. Thanks for sharing a bit about that. That really is key there with hiring virtual assistants. That's how I've been able to scale my business. 

I started out as a freelancer and got to a point where I couldn't continue to increase my income just trading hours for money. 

I liked being able to be self-employed so then I just started to hire other freelancers to take on certain aspects of the business, and that really made a big difference. 

So you talked about being a serial content creator. What do you love doing the most? As you've explored doing things yourself and then hiring various things out, what do you enjoy the most and what would you rather hire out?

It seems as if you do certainly enjoy creating content, and that you really thrive in it, and everything else you'd rather hire out. 

 

Sam:

Yeah, you pretty much nailed it. I like creating content. 

I have two podcasts currently and I have a food show on YouTube with a co-host, but that kind of got pushed to the back burner with the pandemic. We probably have had  30 plus quality videos, like really good, like a local version of Diners Drive-ins and Dives, but based in Silicon Valley where I live. So that one was really fun, but we don't really get to do that one anymore. 

I have another video series that I only do every now and then it's called Brotuality where I break down hidden spiritual themes in broey type comedy movies. That's really fun to do. But again, like both of those projects, the videos and the podcasts, I'm creating the content, not editing the content. 

And now I'm starting my fourth book, and it’s the same thing - creating, not editing. I'm really passionate about what the book's about and the actual writing of the book, but I won’t be the editor for my own book. I won't be doing the graphic design for it. I won't be making all the marketing materials and all that sort of thing. I'll be doing the writing. So yeah, to answer your question, I definitely do enjoy creating content more than anything.

 

Chad:

Yeah. So how does somebody make money creating content for those that are not familiar with that? They're a consumer of content, but they haven't really created content. They're trying to figure out what type of online business to create that they can for the most part do from home. 

How does a content creator make money? How can they support themselves and their families doing that?

 

Sam:

Yeah, that's an excellent question. And you know, the truth is most of us aren't going to have the downloads or the views or the reach to have ads that can replace our business. It’s hard to just be a content creator and earn enough money.  

You guys can check me out on social media - I have a very small following and I haven't been able to grow it yet. 

But, I've been very profitable with my content because I've been strategic in the first 12 months of launching my first podcast. I was $60,000 net positive in the podcasts in terms of lead gen, because it funneled to my swag business

So to back up, a lot of people think about creating content to sell to their audience. The truth is, most of us aren't going to have that reach. Some people break through, but most people won't be able to, and if you don't have a large enough net, then you're gone. You're not going to have people taking you up on your offers. 

If you have a high ticket product that you're selling or that you're representing, and  there's a large commission then you might possibly make out alright. 

If you listen to ads from people like Joe Rogan, who is one of the biggest podcastors, you’ll quickly find out that most of his ads are going to be a small percentage. It's not a big sale, like thousands of dollars. 

Take alpha brain, one of Onnit’s products that sells for maybe 60 bucks or something. He would need to have a lot of people use his code to Alpha Brain to make any money. Luckily for him, he has tons of followers, but for most of us, we're not going to have that.

So if you can align yourself with a product that you're representing, that's a larger sale, that would be one way to sell to your audience. 

What I like to do is to create relationships with the guests on my show and build a show that is strategic to something that matches my target demographic. 

For example, my first podcast was a movers and shakers show in Silicon valley and I sell swag promotional products, right? So my co-hosts and I would interview people doing big things in Silicon valley who were all executives. I've always believed in the principle of the law of reciprocity, which basically means that you give first, because this is the give first economy, right? 

So when I was pushing sales really hard to build up my business, I would have a lot of products that either had my own company logo on it that would be gifts for clients, or if it was a bigger client that I was interviewing for the podcast, I might print something with their logo.  

The point being, when I came in to do the interview, the first thing I would do is put in some sweet quality promotional products and swag on the table.

And they're like, “Oh, you don't do the podcast full time?” And then my co-host would tell them, “No, he sells swag. We call him swag, Sam.” And then they were like, “Oh, well, why don't we buy our swag from you?” And then I go, “Oh, I don't know, why don't you?” And then they tell Susie admin, “Hey, look into working with Sam.”  And then boom, deal closed. So that's really how I monetized the first business. 

To recap, it's by building relationships with your guests and strategic partners, and having the guests that you're inviting onto your show to interview match your target demographic. 

So in terms of sponsors, I know I mentioned having ads on your podcasts.

We got creative. In late 2016, I started seeing some friends getting into content creation and some other things. And I really had the bug because I was a guy in Silicon valley selling promotional products. No one cares about that. I had a huge chip on my shoulder. 

I was on the board of a couple of nonprofits, the first one at age 23. I chaired a young professionals group called Silicon Valley Young Professionals. It was all great networking, but I knew I needed something more. So that was kind of the itch to get into content creation. 

Then from there, we had this podcast called What Up Silicon Valley. At the time, Silicon Valley was kind of stale.The heart of Silicon Valley is San Jose, not San Francisco. 

San Jose is a very old school community. So there were certain business networking groups, like the Silicon Valley Capital Club, and the Silicon Valley Business Journal, that saw what we were doing, and told us they wanted to support us. They would share our podcasts, and we had them be a sponsor, and all this different stuff, which helped us with our reach as well. So there's just a few ideas that have worked for me.

 

Chad:

Definitely. Well, those are really great ideas. And it seems like by leveraging those relationships you were able to really make the most use of your time.

It sounds like as you created content or a show, you were getting quite a bit of money from that content that you maybe spent a couple of hours putting together. 

What you can get out of that from sponsors and from funneling people into your business really does compound quite a bit where you're not just getting $25 an hour for the time you put in. It really adds up when you add all those things together. 

Tell us a little bit about soul life balance and what does that mean and how do we achieve that?

 

Sam:

Absolutely. This whole thing of work-life balance always resonated with me. I always loved it. 

I'm 33 right now, and I think I first heard about work-life balance in high school or something, when I was still a kid. 

And I thought it sounded good for a career to have that ability to not be consumed by work or whatever. It's always been painted as this great picture. 

Well I've had a lot of success in my career. Recently I was named to Silicon Valley's 40 under 40. I think I was 31 at the time. I kept achieving all these goals. I was crushing it in sales, actually, not even sales, but profits. And my girlfriend at the time was a professional cheerleader for my favorite football team. I had everything I wanted, but I wasn't happy.

I was actually really depressed. That led me to Ayahuasca, which is a plant medicine for healing. After I sat with this medicine, it really was healing and it opened me up to spirituality. 

I went deep down the path of spirituality, but one of the first things that came to me while sitting with this medicine was the concept of soul life balance rather than work-life balance. 

What happened for me was that I kept chasing goals for that dopamine hit of achieving a goal. But what happens after that? Then you're left with nothing, right? 

Because it's only in the moment that you get that dopamine rush. So I was essentially an addict to work. I thought in a lot of ways that I had work-life balance and I did. I had work balance as you point out, Chad, because I was only working a few hours a day.

It's not like I was overworking. 

I had big goals and stuff, but I didn't have a connection to my higher self, to my soul, to anything. Whether you are spiritual, religious, agnostic, or whatever the case may be, we all have certain things that just kind of put us back into place, and make us feel really good.  

I don't want to get too far down into spirituality and talk about things like meditation or journaling or things like that. I'm talking about simple things like looking at sunset or walking around your neighborhood without your shoes, (which is called earthing), and being connected to the ground. 

There can be really simple things that just help you breathe intentional breaths, right? 

So the whole idea of soul life balance, rather than work-life balances is a reframe, where we realize work is just a component of life. And we don't put as big of an emphasis on work.

We put more of an emphasis on feeding our soul and connecting with our soul on a daily basis. What that looks like is different for everyone. I've mentioned a few things for me. I love yoga. I love breathwork. I do love walking around my neighborhood without shoes and just being connected to the earth. And those are just some simple things that aren't too, you know, intimidating for the common person. 

The point here is that this is part of the programming of society. We're told about this work-life balance thing and it's made to sound great. We glorify being a weekend warrior. Well, what is that really saying? We're going to work all week so that we can have two days to actually enjoy our life? Does that actually make sense? 

We save all our money for retirement so that when we're old, we can enjoy ourselves in our free time and travel. That doesn't make sense either. 

If you think about it and you really start to unpack the propaganda that is “work life balance,” it's to keep us satisfied, to keep us from asking questions, and to make us think that life is good. 

Like thinking that you have a trip planned, you have a vacation and you have this PTO saved up. But in reality, that's no way to live. 

So that's why my idea centers around soul life balance where we start to have these vacations or these trips or these things we do outside of work that really connect us to ourselves more often than just spending our lives working.

 

Chad:

Thanks for explaining that. I love how you brought up those simple things that we can do. Because sometimes we do attach enjoying life to that vacation we take once a year, or having time off like you just said. But then you're missing life in between. 

Life happens every single day and it's those simple things that we can do to connect with ourselves, to connect with others, to connect with the world around us. That's what brings that joy. So thank you for explaining that to us.

As we're trying to build up a business from home, we need to be able to know how to have that connection and have that joy throughout, because without it, like you said, what's the point?  You only get the dopamine hit when you achieve your goal?

Then now what? What’s next? Why just wait until you're in your sixties to start living life?
There are so many ways that we can achieve that joy and connection now.

For those that want to learn more about soul life balance and everything you're doing, how can they connect with you and find you? Also if you want, you can mention a little bit about either one of the books you've previously written or the one you're writing now.

 

Sam:

Absolutely. Yeah. The easiest way to connect with me is going to http://www.SamKabert.com, or just follow me on Instagram, @SamKabert. 

I talk a lot on Instagram about spiritual stuff. So if you're not into that, you might not enjoy following me there, but I do also talk a lot about soul life balance. 

I am entering a sprint of finishing my book. It'll probably be published in December or January of 2022. So it's coming up soon. But as I get closer to releasing the book, a lot of the content I am talking about is going to be even more centered around soul life balance. 

One of the books I wrote is called The Written Goal. If you're someone who struggles with accountability and whatnot, I would recommend checking out that book. 

Harvard released a study. I forget it off the top of my head, what the percentage is, but basically you're 90% more likely to achieve your goals if you write down your goals.

This book is literally worksheets that will help you do that. It's not just a book that you read, it's more of a workbook. 

The other book that you guys might be interested in is... I don’t even know what it's called. This was my first book and I did a terrible job with the title of it. It's like “Working with Virtual Assistants” or something like that - it's a terrible title, but the book is great.

(Working with Virtual Assistants to Grow Your Business - Sam Kabert)

So yeah, that's my book about working with VAs and obviously you should also check out CloneYourselfUniversity.com. There's a ton of free resources on that website. I have blogs. I have 10 free downloads that will help you guys. And in the first 15 episodes of the Clone Yourself Podcast, I walk you through step-by-step how to scale your business with VA's. So if any of those resources call to you, feel free to check them out.

 

Chad:

Great. Well, thanks so much Sam for telling us about those resources that we can really tap into to help grow our business. I'm glad that you came to talk to us today. 

 

Sam:

Awesome. Chad, thank you so much for having me. 

 

Chad:

I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Sam. If you're interested in the things that he talked about, be sure to check out his website, his podcast, his books, all of that. 

You can learn more about the kinds of things we talked about here today on our Youtube Channel where you’ll find other episodes and other content and resources for you if you are trying to build up success as a freelancing parent.

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