When you're trying to get more views for your videos, it can often feel like you're at the mercy of YouTube's algorithm. That's why it's important to think about distribution at every stage, from creation to promotion.
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn from two entrepreneurs who regularly produce YouTube videos that drive millions of views.
Patrick Adair Designs creates rings made of materials like carbon fiber, titanium, and other rare materials.
We made a ring that subscribes you to PewDiePie and this was a very thought-out video. We had a really intense strategy for it. We posted that a month ago and it’s already at 4.6 million views.
Tune in to learn
- How to get your first sales by running Instagram auctions
- Why content needs to change when you’re building an audience versus creating customers
- Their exact strategy to creating and promoting a YouTube video to a million views
- Store: Patrick Adair Designs
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube
- Recommendations: Klaviyo (Shopify app), Justuno (Shopify app), G Suite, Pablo Cimadevila (YouTube Channel)
Felix: Today I’m joined by Patrick and Lewis from Patrick Adair Designs. Patrick Adair Designs creates rings made of things like carbon fiber, titanium, and other rare materials. It was started in 2015 and based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Welcome guys.
Patrick: Thank you
Lewis: Hey. Welcome.
Felix: I think you told us that you guys or, I think, Patrick you mentioned that you’ve always been a creative and business-minded person and you’ve been doing projects like this you’re whole life, but this was the first legitimate, scalable project you started. First, tell us about the other projects you started. What was that like?
Patrick: So just growing up, I started this company when I was a senior in high school. I was really young for all those other previous projects, so they’re more just like, less serious. Like in fifth grade I got banned from selling gum out of my backpack at a certain point. I’ve just always trying to peddle crap to just anyone around me. I’d sell stuff on eBay. There was a while, I think one of the coolest things I was doing, is there’s an EDM music artist named Deadmau5, and he has a really iconic mouse head that he puts on while he’s performing. I started making those at my house, I think I was in probably Freshman year of high school. I would make them by hand. I’d spend a lot of time, using similar techniques to what I do with my rings now. I was just making these heads. I’d throw them up on eBay and they’d sell for like 500 or so bucks.
Patrick: For the time, I’d put probably like 20 hours of work into each of them, but that was fantastic money and I loved doing it. That’s just kind of been my entire childhood, growing up, is just selling stuff, figuring out what I can do to try to just be an entrepreneur.
Felix: So what was different about this particular business with the rings with Patrick Adair Designs, that was different than the other businesses?
Patrick: I guess a lot of them, whether it’s like selling stuff to classmates in school, like that not scalable. I can’t make a website and sell gum for more expensive than you can get it at the grocery store. That just fundamentally was not a legitimate, good business, I guess. Then the Deadmau5 stuff, that’s obviously infringing on some trademark stuff. It was more of just a handmade, cool, I wasn’t trying to sell 100,000 of these. I was just a fan of Deadmau5. I didn’t want to step on his toes and I am also not capable of producing more than, you know in high school, I could produce one a month or something like that. It was the first thing that I thought, okay what’s a product that I could make personally, that’s fairly cheap, that appeals to everyone and something that I could sell online without limits. Like I said, the Deadmau5 head had a lot of limits. And just something that I could scale and that was how I got into this.
Patrick: First I started, I wanted to sell a product made out of carbon fiber. So that was kind of my brainstorm. I’ve done all these things in my past. I wanna do something bigger, something I can put on the internet. So I bought some carbon fiber. I was messing around with it and it was a fairly simple and straightforward to make a ring out of it. So that’s how I got started in the rings, and I just saw the tip of the iceberg of the potential that it had and just kind of ran with it.
Felix: Right. I’m sure entrepreneurs approach you all the time with their ideas and wanna get feedback from you. What do you look at when you have an entrepreneur approach you and you want to determine if their business is scalable. Because it sounds like a really important aspect of your current business has led to your success is the scalability factor. What do you recommend entrepreneur look at, or what did you look at yourself, or what do you look at yourself, when you look at other businesses to determine if it’s scalable or not?
Patrick: That’s a great question. There’s kind of, probably a lot of different things that I look for. So in terms of, like I’m a huge proponent of making sure your business is really profitable and rings are really great for that. Because they’re a very symbolic thing. They mean a lot to people, and they’re willing to spend a lot of money on it, because for a wedding ring or just for any other important reason to wear a ring. People are willing to spend money on something that means a lot to them.
Patrick: I think picking something that is the right, right for profitability that you’re gonna always be, you know you never wanna get your business off on the wrong foot. You’re never going to be able to be profitable if you can’t be profitable from the get-go, is kind of my philosophy. Of course, there are different things you can do, but for the most part, I’d say, be as profitable as you can. One thing that I would recommend, you know you don’t have to do but it’s based on my experience, is I started with no money, no budget, no loans, no tools even. I just bought like $30 of carbon fiber because that’s all I could afford.
Patrick: I would start with something that you don’t need a business loan for. I think a lot of people are like, well if I could just get $20,000 from this loan, I’m sure I could be successful. I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. I think you need to start with a strategy that allows you to just hit the ground running. Start from zero dollars, scale your way up to $100 a month, and then go from there. Don’t try to get yourself $20,000 in debt and crawl your way out of it.
Felix: Got it. So you mentioned that for first big success were the Deadmau5 heads and it took you 20 hours to make each one of them. How long do the rings take to make? I’m sure your process may be different today, but at the very beginning, give us an idea of how long each product took you to make.
Patrick: That’s a great question. In the beginning, it took me a lot longer, and that was one of the things I was able to figure out to make myself even more profitable and just, in general, be able to sell more product because of increased production capacity. I would spend a lot of time on every ring from the beginning. I’d spend, well the carbon fiber rings is where I got started, and then I moved on to more custom stuff. So the carbon fiber rings those were kind of quick and easy, and I figured out a quick process. I probably averaged about 30 minutes per ring. The other rings that I started getting into, I’d spend 10 to 12 hours on one of them. And I was just kind of experimenting with what I could do.
Patrick: I should probably explain the backstory to how I was selling them. After I did my Kickstarter, I did a Kickstarter for those carbon fiber rings. I never explained that. Sorry for not making that clear. Essentially for that Kickstarter, I posted a, it was just a really quick Kickstarter I did. I spent probably 24 hours from start to finish, working on the project page as well as the video. I edited the video and shot it on my iPhone, so it was just very simple, very straight forward and it brought in about $5,000. And that was great. It wasn’t a very big Kickstarter but was one that I was able to do quickly. So people shouldn’t shoot for like $100,000 from the get-go, I’d say go for the $5,000 and then work your way up from there. So that was really helpful to me.
Patrick: After I did that Kickstarter, I started an Instagram page where I would post the work that I did. I had all this ring making equipment. I would just kind of document what I was doing. I was just having fun, messing around making rings. And I would try to sell them, and I essentially would just sell to the highest bidder. Whoever was willing to pay the most for a custom ring that week, is who I’d make it for. So they’d pay me like, at the beginning, it was like 50 to 70, 80 bucks, and I would spend 10 hours, 12 hours on the making of it. Probably five hours researching it and going back and forth with them on ideas. So making less than minimum wage, but it was a lot of fun and I was learning a lot.
Patrick: Then I was able to tweak everything that I did, my design, my production process, all of that, to get it down to where some of the rings could be really customized. They’d look cool, really unique, all of that, and they could take me an hour and a half or less. That was kind of a really good thing for me as a business. I started out with something that wasn’t really that scalable. If I was spending 12 hours on a ring, it would be really hard to make it profitable and really hard to scale because we’d have to charge so much for them. So just trying to see what’s successful and then how can I adapt that to make it scalable was that experience.
Felix: So you were creating these custom rings and then were you taking notes of what you could do, what kind of rings you could create more scalably and you didn’t have to actually do these one-off? How were you using the custom rings to, I guess, inform and guide your business around the more scalable products, the more scalable product lines that you were creating, that weren’t custom?
Patrick: That’s an interesting question. There wasn’t too much strategy other than I literally just didn’t have time to offer. The thing is with rings too is, a ring can take 20 hours to make or it can take two hours to make and you can’t really tell the difference for some them. Obviously, for a really ornate ring with hand engravings and all that, that’s priceless and you can never reproduce that in a matter of hours. For the most part, the customer doesn’t know how long it takes so being able to make something quickly and efficiently, but still making it high quality and not underselling yourself. Just because that ring took a shorter amount of time doesn’t mean it’s any less special, any less beautiful, anything like that. I tried to push my audience towards liking those, which they did. I’d do sales on those a lot more heavily than I would on my other designs. I think just naturally I tried to steer people towards it and they obviously responded well to it.
Felix: Right. You have this approach where you want to make sure that the products you sell are profitable from the beginning. Meaning that each unit that you sell is going to be profitable and you don’t believe in the kind of thinking where you become profitable with volume. You want to start making money on that first product and not be losing out. So your approach was to launch a Kickstarter of course, which is essentially pre-selling your product. So obviously no cost other than the time that you put into creating the page it sounds like. Then you went on Instagram to start selling these custom rings. So you’re selling custom products that you’re, it’s kind of made to order. What are you putting up on Instagram to attract people to start bidding on the custom rings?
Patrick: Back then it was, I’m pulling up my Instagram here, it was pretty, it’s kind of a weird concept when I explain it to people. Especially people who aren’t as familiar with Instagram. But it is weird for Instagram too. I would just post what I was doing. I post a cool picture of a ring. And I’d get people interested, like, hey that was an interesting ring, could I buy one from you? And nine times out of 10 they don’t end up actually going through with the transaction. So that’s kind of frustrating when you’re getting started, but something you kind of have to accept.
Patrick: But with an auction, that is almost a guaranteed way to sell something and you’re probably not going to make enough money for it to be worth your time. Especially for a really long time until you can build up some popularity. But you can guarantee to sell customers a product. I would just post what I was doing and then probably once a week, I would post a picture of maybe two or three example rings that I had made in the past that I thought were cool and then maybe just a picture of some interesting materials that they could have as an option for the ring. So I’d just post like, hey this is an auction post, comment down below what you’re willing to pay and whoever is willing to pay the most in 24 hours they will win the auction and I will work with them to make them a custom ring.
Felix: What about this auction model makes you more likely to get a sale than just pushing people to buy at a set price?
Patrick: It makes it really exclusive, so people like this is my one chance to get this thing so now is the time to put my money where my mouth is. The biggest thing is I start the auction at $1, whereas I’d really like to sell the ring for 100 or more. So it’s probably going to sell for like $40 to $60 and you're not really making your money back in terms of it being worth your time, but it’s a way for you to get some momentum. You can get a customer base. You can get some popularity, and next week you’re almost guaranteed to get more for that auction. It’s a starting point where-
Felix: -Just because the auction generating some kind of buzz and more people are coming to your page?
Patrick: -Yeah. Exactly. And you make something custom for one person and you post the results of it. You post how happy they are. They post a picture once they get it. So it’s just a really, really solid just buzz like you said. Just gets people really excited for it.
Felix: Okay. You run these auctions for like one day or how long does it run for?
Patrick: It depends. I do one that’s like a flash auction. It’ll end in 24 hours or I’d let it run for two or three days. It just depends. If someone else is gonna wanna try this, I’d say experiment. You probably want it to be at least 24 hours to give people a chance to see your post, but maybe do up to three days or so.
Felix: Got it. So people are just commenting on the price they would pay. What was the conversion rate there, like I’m sure that there are still some tire kickers that would win, but not really wanna go through with it? What was the conversion rate with this model?
Patrick: Yeah. It’s interesting. I think I don’t know if I ever had, I think I had one out of probably… And I stopped doing the auction thing after a while. I probably did 20 of them, and I think I only had 1 person not actually come through. It kind of depends on your community, who your follower base is. I would try to have like a really, I don’t know, I’d put like a disclaimer in there like, I don’t think I have it word for word on this post, but just like, don’t post if you’re not willing to bid and then, or actually pay through PayPal at the end. Then you’d wanna make sure people have a reputation, not necessarily a reputation, but if they’ve got one follower, no posts, they’re probably not a legit account. They could be just trolling even, that can happen. Just make sure that they’re a legitimate account.
Patrick: When it comes to Instagram, it’s usually people’s personal page, where they have followers from their personal friends. They aren’t willing to, you know somewhere like YouTube where you don’t have your personal main page where your friends follow you. People are a lot more willing to be obnoxious or troll there. But Instagram, I think it is a nice community where people usually are fairly legit.
Felix: Right. So when you first this, how big was your following?
Patrick: Really small. I’m trying to get a sense for it. You know I got like 40 posts, so I kind of go through my, this one has 40. So my older posts, it looks like I was getting about like 40 likes per post. And this could be different where people go back in time and like the photo. But essentially I think I had one to two hundred followers that came through from Kickstarter, where I said, hey guys I started this Instagram page. You can follow my future projects here. I got a little bit of a response from that. But from where I needed to do stuff like I do giveaways and try to get followers from that.
Patrick: There’s kind of a community of makers on Instagram. There’s ring makers, knife makers, all of that. There’s kind of a cool community there, so you do a giveaway it kind of gets spread throughout the community and they’re not super effective. But you’d get the followers rolling through and I think I started doing the auctions once I had, I think I had about 500 followers by the time I started doing auctions and I’d actually get a few bids. I think this one sold for like 50 bucks or something. Yeah. Once I had like 500 followers or so, I was able to sell a ring for like 50 bucks. That’s kind of-
Felix: -Okay. So it's definitely a manageable level to get to for anyone who is serious about starting a business like this. A few hundred to 500 followers is certainly an achievable starting point. You mentioned that you eventually did stop the auctions after 20 or so. What made you make that decision?
Patrick: -Mostly just the orders were flowing through naturally and I didn’t really have time for it at this point. I don’t even take customer requests on rings. It’s just not something that is really applicable to us anymore. But it is something that I would love to get back into. I think it could be a really special and interesting thing for us to do. It’s just kind of too low on our priorities list right now to be worth doing. But I’d love to get back into it.
Felix: Right. Makes sense. What’s the strategy today? If Instagram maybe is custom rings through these auctions is no longer being done, what do you guys focus on today to drive traffic and sales to the store?
Patrick: Today our main strategy is the YouTube channel that we have behind it. That’s kind of a unique thing too. Most e-commerce companies aren’t fueled by a YouTube channel. That’s something that we think is really special for our company. What I ended up doing was filming my process while I would make the ring, turn it into a video, post it to YouTube, and try to get people to watch that. It was within a year that, I probably started doing it a year after I started my Instagram, and it was about a year later where my YouTube actually overtook my Instagram, in terms of followers and views. It was able to overlap our success on Instagram pretty quickly.
Patrick: That’s been a great thing. That’s where like our top of the funnel, that’s what Lewis will get into a lot later. But that’s just where we gather our interest for people being aware of our product and from there we have a lot of other strategies, such as Facebook ads, retargeting ads, our email newsletter, all of that. Kind of the main source of where we try to procure our customers is by posting YouTube videos that are genuinely entertaining so that they will get organic success, not paid views or anything like that.
Felix: Right. Instagram has the technology for you to put out these videos as well. What made you decide to try to expand to a different platform?
Patrick: Oh that’s a great question. I think YouTube’s a much better fit for the content that I post there. On Instagram, I had to really fight for all of my followers. It wasn’t super scalable. There’s even, you know, you’d do giveaways, you can even follow and unfollow people. I’m sure people on this podcast are probably kind of familiar with that. That’s kind of that just classic grind when you’re starting an Instagram page. And you can do that, but you have to fight so hard to get every single one of your followers. So its kind of like a there’s only so many hours in the day you can try to get Instagram followers, but it really wasn’t scaling on its own. There was no exponential growth to it or anything like that. So once I got to like 10,000 followers, it’s still just, it was just like a straight line of growth that was really slow. It was nice and steady, but I was not getting any love from the Instagram algorithm, I think is what it comes down to. And that’s okay. Instagram is not for rings. I’m not mad at Instagram for that, but YouTube is much more fit for this content.
Patrick: So I’d post videos showing how I make it. That’s what people are really into on YouTube. That’s not the only thing, but that’s something that’s really popular on YouTube. They want to see makers doing stuff. They want to see how they make things. Then they like seeing the transformation from, you’re starting with, and I think one of my big things when I was starting, was starting with unconventional materials. I’d start with a block of carbon fiber, a piece of marble, some copper and I’d turn it into a beautiful ring. People love seeing that transformation. That gave it a success on the YouTube algorithm, where I don’t think it was a great fit for Instagram. But what I do think was important was it was really to get started on Instagram. It was easy to get those first 500 followers. Where it’s almost impossible. You’ll post a video and you’ll get zero views. Like legitimately zero views, or 50 or less. So it’s so hard to get started there. So once I’d built up my Instagram, I could push them to my YouTube and that gave it the kickstart it needed to get some actual success outside of that and then there really was some fantastic exponential growth to that where we just naturally have that be kind of our main hub of Patrick Adair Designs now.
Felix: Did you already see people creating similar content? Because obviously like you mentioned, that’s way less friction to growing on YouTube today. It’s eclipsed your following on Instagram, but you still had to put in some initial grunt work, where you might not have seen any results early on at least, results were not as good as if you posted it on Instagram early on. What did you see that made you decide to start in the first place?
Patrick: On YouTube?
Felix: On YouTube.
Patrick: Yeah. Jimmy DiResta is a perfect example of this. I love YouTube. I’ve probably watched an average of two hours of YouTube a day for the past decade. I know it like from A to Z kind of. So, I’m a huge fan of YouTube, I know a lot of the makers on there. And Jimmy DiResta is someone that I’ve been a fan of forever. What he does, if you’re not familiar with his channel, he’s literally just a guy in Upstate New York, and he makes whatever he wants. So in one of his videos, he makes a canoe, in another one he makes a sign for a local business, in one he makes a ginormous padlock. And so he’s just making interesting stuff, and he had a great following there. There’s a lot of other channels similar to that, but he’s my favorite and one of the original maker YouTubers. I knew that market was there, I think he’s had over a million subscribers for quite a while now. I’ve always liked that. I’ve always wanted to do that but had no real way of trying to get it started. And as soon as I saw that opportunity through my Instagram, I really tried to run with it. And there was that proof of concept, where there are other people on there and people are genuinely interested in watching other people make interesting things.
Felix: Yeah. I guess YouTube does make more sense because there’s a little bit longer attention span on there to see someone making something. If I’m on Instagram I wanna most I wanna see like all the cuts like of just give me the highlights of you making something within the next 10 seconds. But YouTube definitely has more I guess in more the context of the video is in on YouTube people have more patience to watch it play out. How large is the following that you have on YouTube today?
Patrick: Our sub … I think we’re at like 570,000 subscribers give or take.
Felix: That’s amazing. How long did it take to get to that point?
Patrick: It’s been-
Lewis: -Three years.
Patrick: -Three years. Yep. Almost [crosstalk] exactly three years since I started the channel.
Felix: Were there specific inflection points, where things just took off to another level each time? Like was there a specific video, was there anything you could point and say that was the reason why our growth has grown so quickly?
Patrick: I think the biggest thing … And I hear so many YouTubers hit this exact same point, when they talk about their growth and all that. Is hitting your first subscriber milestones, it’s kind of in that 100 to 10,000 range. That’s kind of the hardest thing. Being able to actually break through the YouTube barrier, and have YouTube show your stuff to people and kind of have it see the light of day. That’s kind of the trickiest part. That’s where probably somewhere in the 99 percentile of channels get stuck because it’s so hard to actually get your stuff noticed and appreciated. Once you can get there, everything from there, we, of course, have had some amazing successes, we’ve had some fantastic collaborations. We’ve had videos that go, one of our videos has over 10 million views.
Patrick: And it comes down to the YouTube algorithm liking the video and promoting it for you, in our case for that video. Nothing that was just like this is the magic thing that we did. It was really just doing whatever you can to make sure that you get those first, you know, it’s hard to put a number, but as I said earlier, 100 to 10,000 subscribers. That’s kind of the window, where if you can get to that point, that’s where YouTube will actually take you seriously. And kind of let your stuff see a broader audience and they’ll advertise it to more people and you’ll bring in more fans, all that.
Felix: So you mentioned that one of your videos has 10 million views, that’s an example of a video’s gone viral. And obviously you can’t force a video to go viral, but I’m sure there are certain boxes that you now know to tick off, to give yourself the best chances of going viral or at least getting recommended by YouTube and getting more views that you would typically get. What is that to you? What are certain things that you try to do today to make sure that you set up a video for success?
Patrick: I guess, we have a lot of different strategies. Some of the videos we just wanna make a ring that customers we already have, the subscribers that we already have, are going to really like and it’s going to be effective at converting their view into an order. Then there are others where we’re trying to get a ton of views on the video and we try to make it appealing to a mass audience. So you can see some of our successes and failures with that, I just pulled up my YouTube page now and our third most recent video, the video title is, Using My YouTube Play Button To Make a Ring. I took my play button, I ground some pieces of the back of it and I turned it into a ring. That’s kind of a strategy to get a video that, that’s a really wide appeal. Everyone on YouTube, it’s really popular to do a video with your silver play button on them. So that can be a really good chance for success. And that hasn’t been super successful. It’s done a little bit better than average and over the next six months or so, maybe it will continue to do really well and we’ll look back and it’ll be a great success.
Patrick: That was just an attempt we did. It worked out okay, but just not fantastic. Before that, we made a ring that subscribes you to PewDiePie and this was a very thought out video. We had a really intense strategy for it. We posted that a month ago and it’s already to 4.6 million so that one was a huge success. PewDiePie right now is the, he might actually have just been passed, but he essentially the largest YouTuber on YouTube-
Felix: -Sorry. This is a ring that subscribes you to PewDiePie’s channel? I don’t get it. How does this work?
Patrick: -Yes. Oh, I should probably explain that. That’s weird. We put an NFC chip in the ring. So if you touch it to your phone, it’ll open up a link and prompt you to subscribe to PewDiePie. And it’ll actually prompt you to unsubscribe from T-Series, so that was kind of the whole joke. It’s just kind of playing off that YouTube culture. You know that’s a really hot topic right now. Even hotter topic a month ago when we posted it. So that got a lot of attention. People really liked it. People showed it to PewDiePie. He ended up showing it one of his videos. After he showed it in his video, we got a ton of people coming to watch that, and we probably had like 100,000 views from that within 48 hours. After that, that got YouTube to notice that it was a special video just because so many people were watching it. Then YouTube started recommending it to everyone like crazy, so PewDiePie brought in 100,000 views for us and then YouTube took over the reins and they brought over, it was over a million view in 24 hours at one point. So [crosstalk 00:29:04]-
Felix: -Wow. Amazing. You sound like you obviously planned this out, or you mentioned that there was an intense deliberate strategy around this. Can you talk more about that? What was the strategy that you went into this with?
Patrick: I’ll have Lewis explain it because he helped me orchestrate it and he literally, we came up with like a flow chart of what we wanted to do so he’d be great to talk about it.
Lewis: Alright. So our whole idea was, we noticed that Patrick’s audiences demographic overlaps with PewDiePies. They’re both males aged 18 to 25 and Patrick’s also a big fan of PewDiePie, so it gave us insight. We knew what those people liked and what they didn’t. So of course, the first goal was to make a video that would be good, that would appeal to Patrick’s core demographic, as well as this other demographic, because we wanted to hit the overlap, but we also wanted PewDiePie subscribers to be able to watch the video and just enjoy the video even though it might not be what they’d normally watch. So of course, the first step was to create good content, but then at that point, we wanted to take advantage of the fact that there was a demographic overlap, and we also knew that PewDiePie regularly hosts content from his subreddit on his YouTube channel. Like he does a review of the top posts on his subreddit.
Lewis: So our goal was to run a guerrilla marketing strategy to get the video to the top of the subreddit, and it was fairly organic. We made the video then we posted on the subreddit about the video and had some people who were active there post about it as well. But that natural overlap also made, I think it was about seven to 10 people that were our subscribers that we had talked to, also posted the video in the subreddit. So it quickly became a trending, buzzing topic on the subreddit. Then people started talking about it, looking at the memes people were making about it, and it got upvoted, and it ended up being one of the highest upvoted posts of that week.
Lewis: Which then meant when PewDiePie went to do his weekly subreddit review, it was now at the top, so the only way he couldn’t see it and talk about it, was if he chose not to. And because it was a fun thing, no harm no foul, we didn’t sell it. We weren’t trying to monetize off of it or anything, and we actually took a large portion of the traffic routing to it and we ran a charity raffle and donated money to a charity PewDiePie had donated to in the past. So we weren’t trying to capitalize and be like, oh look talk about us because we want to make a whole bunch of money off you. It was just like, hey look we did this because we thought it would, kind of like, you know like it is a PR stunt but it was also like we want to use the traffic and the attention to give back to a community, we’ll give back to the community you like. So we donated to a charity he donated in the past, because we’re like feeding off of your attention so let’s make sure we’re giving back.
Felix: Right. That makes sense. I love this approach where you’re not going directly at PewDiePie, you're not trying to send him like a direct message or email. You are trying to get a smaller win that you know will lead to the bigger win. So that smaller win of getting onto Reddit was much, much more achievable than trying to get into PewDiePie’s inbox. I’m sure he has tons of people hitting him up all the time. I like that you kind of back out of this and tried to find, how can you kind of set off this domino effect and then go for something that’s much more achievable early on and then lead up to eventually having one of the larger YouTubers talk about the product that you made.
Felix: You guys talked about the two types of content that you’re creating and I like this, the way that you talked about this because I’ve never thought about this way. Which is that you have to have content that is focused on getting a new audience and then content to get at the existing audience to buy. What about the approach of getting the existing audience to buy? What is the content that you create in that case?
Patrick: I’ll go through some of my videos and give like good examples and bad examples. So I’d made a ring out of fire hose. I took a fire hose. I cut it into sheets, stacked it up, and fused it with resin, and turned it into a ring. That was really cool and interesting, and people liked watching it. But that’s not a valuable material. People don’t really want a ring made out of the hose. That not like, no one’s gonna buy that. And there could be. There were quite a few firemen interested in that and we did a sale where we sold them. But essentially people aren’t going to be willing a lot of money for anything like that. So that was just kind of the, let’s get people viewing our videos and get them interested in stuff.
Patrick: But then there’s stuff where I go to make a video. I’m like we want to sell a ring, so I need to make it out of a scalable design. So the design needs to be straightforward to make, it needs to be a durable ring, one that we’re not going to run into issues with it cracking or breaking or anything like that. I think one of our best examples of this is called our Stardust ring. I made it with a cobalt chrome base, and that’s a metal that is fantastic for jewelry. It’s hypoallergenic, it’s super strong, and it holds a really nice polish. It’s great for a ring. It’s great for a wedding ring. It’s something that you could put on your finger forever, so that is really important if you’re trying to sell a ring. Something that people actually like and want to have, not just as a fun thing. Because then they’re not willing to spend a lot of money.
Patrick: We then did an inlay that we thought would be cool. We used meteorite shavings for that. So that’s a really interesting, fun material. We have all the meteorite shavings in the world in our shop because it’s a by-product of our other meteorite rings that we make. So it just has from start to finish it’s made of cool materials, and it’s made out of durable materials, and it’s made out of scalable materials for us, and there’s nothing in it that is super expensive for us so that it can be a profitable product.
Felix: Got it. So you are basically creating videos that essentially feature products that people actually want to buy, not just like videos that entertaining to watch or videos that are I guess more gimmicky in that case.
Patrick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Exactly. I just noticed I made a ring out of cake sprinkles. It’s cool, fun to watch, no one wants to put that on their finger and wear it forever.
Felix: Right. You mentioned that you can’t just create videos of you making stuff. That not good enough, you also have to be entertaining. Are you doomed if you’re just not an entertaining person or you’re not like a funny person? Are there ways that, can it be learned or that there are things that you can learn to kind of set yourself up for success here?
Patrick: It can be learned. I’m not the most charismatic person. And I’m aware of that, but you can put on a face and make a quick video. But even that aside, I think somewhere where you can take inspiration is—think of someone who doesn’t even speak English. So you can find YouTube channels like this. There are YouTube channels that are huge and they have an audience of people in America. America is kind of, don’t quote me on this but, America has a huge YouTube audience, so there’s definitely people trying to get videos popular here and if you don’t speak English that’s really hard. But you can style your videos in a completely different way than I do.
Patrick: I think a fantastic example of this is a guy, another jeweler. His name is Pablo Cimadevvila and he’s from Spain and he might speak English, I don’t know, but he doesn’t talk in any of his videos. If you’re listening to the podcast, I recommend you look up my channel and you look up his channel. They’re two very different styles, but both can be completely successful. He doesn’t do any talking in his videos, but he has a style where he just tries to make it really cinematic. He tries to make beautiful rings. He does really cool up close shots with a good camera, good lighting, all of that. It’s just a fantastic video to watch. He has inspirational music that he puts behind it. People just really like watching his stuff, not because he’s an entertaining person, but because he made an entertaining video.
Felix: Makes sense. So now that you are getting the attention, there are people coming to watch the video, how do you actually direct them to your store or to buy the product that you’re talking about in the video?
Patrick: In the videos we obviously we want to make sure people are very well aware that we sell the rings, but we don’t wanna be too overbearing with our sales pitch. First of all, people aren’t going to like that, and if people don’t like that then they’re not going to watch our videos as much. And if they don’t watch our videos as much, YouTube can tell and they won’t recommend our videos as much. You wanna make sure at the end of the day our YouTube videos are getting watched by our viewers and you just wanna be subtle with it like, hey if you enjoyed this video and you though this ring was cool, you can check out my website, I’ve got a link to it down in the description below. Then from there, that’s where we really go hard on the sales tactics after that.
Felix: Got it. Can you give us an idea of how quickly the business has grown since you started this about four years ago?
Patrick: I started it was 2016 … 2015 is when I did my Kickstarter. So it did that and that was kind of like a part-time thing while I was in high school. It brought in like $5,000, but from there I didn’t have any major income after that. I’d have the occasional ring order, but I was in school, I wasn’t devoting a ton of attention to it. There that initial 5,000 that I brought in that was great and got me started. Then I just kind of coasted. The following summer, in 2016, is when I actually, I was done with school for the year, and so I devoted a lot more attention. At that point I was able to go, we’ll say I was probably bringing in less than $500 a month from before then. And then I was able to slowly grow, and it was slow at this point. When you look at an exponential curve on the graph, the growth at the beginning almost looks like nothing. It’s very slow going. But that’s important.
Patrick: I started, like I said under 500 a month and it probably took me about a year until probably June of 2017, is when I was really on another level. So January 2017, I was still, you know January’s a much slower month, I probably did like 1000 the December of 2016, but then January was maybe more like 300 or something. I was really just kind of just crawling, baby steps still in January 2017. So that’s almost two years later. But that was really only kind of six months of focus at that point. From there, that’s when YouTube started growing and we were up to five figures a month by the middle of that year. That’s where the exponential growth of it took off like a rocket. I don’t know [crosstalk] it was kind of crazy-
Felix: -That was mid–2017 or mid–2018?
Felix: 2017. Got it.
Patrick: So that was when we really hit a stride with YouTube and we had some stuff get some like it’s not too hard to get like 1,000 views on YouTube if … And you know that’s great and fantastic if you’re getting 1,000 views, that’s so much better than zero, in so many ways. But it’s not too difficult to have a video, you know because videos on YouTube will get up to 50 million views. 10,000 views is fantastic for me, but it’s not even a drop in the bucket of what’s possible on YouTube. There’s a lot of volatility, so if you can just have one or two videos hit a little bit of success, that kind of what it took. That’s what kind of took things, helped take things to the next level so quickly within that six month period.
Felix: Is it putting out a lot of content or is it better to have quantity or do you try to be more focused on the type of content you put out. Not at the stage that you’re at today, but like if someone were to start out. What is the recommended approach?
Patrick: I think the most important thing is to make sure that you’re putting out the good stuff and to make sure you have a strategy. If you’re making a really great video every single week and you go post it and it’s still not getting any views. It’s not seeing the light of day, you can do that for three years and still not have any success [inaudible] that. So all that time you’ve just been wasting your time. I would suggest if you are struggling to hit that initial success, even though you’re putting in all this great effort is maybe take half of that effort that you’re putting into your videos and focus it on allowing those videos to see the light of day.
Patrick: So maybe go post it on a Reddit page, maybe you could go to r/jewelry and show people like, hey check this ring out that I made, this video along with it. And that can be really tricky. People on Reddit, the last thing they want you to do is try to spam them with stuff that’s going to benefit you personally. They absolutely hate that. So you have to have a really good strategy with that. You have to have genuine content, that’s genuinely good, and you have to post a real caption for it, like, hey what do you guys think of this ring I made. Don’t say, hey guys check out my ring channel I’m doing 50% of for any orders from Reddit. People aren’t gonna like that. They’d know that you just want to use them for their money.
Patrick: Then there are a thousand different things you can do. You can go into Facebook groups for people who are jewelers and talk to them about jewelry and kind of go back and forth. Make connections, make friends in the industry and you don’t have to spam your content to them. If they know that you’re the guy that makes those YouTube videos, they’re gonna go back and watch it. If it’s good content then they’re gonna keep watching it, and they’ll share it with their friends, all of that. I think absolutely the number one thing is to make sure you’re posting content. But don’t get stuck in that repetitive mindset of just make videos [crosstalk] hoping one day the YouTube algorithm will do the rest.
Felix: Just churning. Yeah. Right. Yeah. I think another big lesson that I hear from you is that you have to be aware of what the results are. You have to be attuned to that feedback and change direction at some point where you can’t just keep on banging your head against the wall and hoping things will change. You sound like you did this with the move from Instagram to YouTube. You noticed that you weren’t getting the results that you wanted, let’s try something new. Can you think of any other examples that you have seen in your own business, or that feel like you see in other entrepreneurs where they are kind of banging their head against the wall, where you might wanna just shake them and say, "Hey, try something new?"
Patrick: Yeah. Let’s try to think. Nothing too specific. I struggling to think of anything outside of the jewelry realm because I’m not as experienced obviously. You just see a lot of people who, they’ve built up a fan base, they’ve got people who are ordering rings, and they think that the best thing for them to do is to just keep making that next good ring design that everyone’s going to love, and one day, you’ll just have this fantastically large audience. That’s kind of a logical fallacy that I see within the industry that [crosstalk 00:45:02]-
Felix: -Looking for like a home run or something? Is that what?
Patrick: -Yeah. Well, not even that. Just, maybe if I keep making good rings one day I’ll have 100 times the number of followers that I have. And that’s gonna take, if you’ve been doing it for one year, it’s gonna take 100 years to do that. That’s linear growth. That’s not what can allow you to really blow up your business in the way that you want to. I think one of the best things to do is to hire someone for your help. If you’re to the point where you’re making enough money that you can scrape by, as well as pay someone $10 an hour to help you out. I think that’s a fantastic thing to do. You can get buried in 40 hours of ring making a week. You’re trying to fulfill orders that you have no time to innovate, no time to change things up. So you just get stuck there. You’re just flatlining. And maybe you charge a little bit more per ring once you have a better reputation. Other than that, that’s just kind of like a [crosstalk 00:45:57]-
Felix: -I see. You’re saying, don’t get hooked on that what got you that level of success.
Felix: It’s gonna require something different if you want to grow exponentially. I think you’re also basically saying, you can’t just focus on the product. Yes you obviously have a great product, but if no one’s going to see your products then it doesn’t matter. So if you’re focus and just stuck in your kind of lab and working on the product, working the product, but then not really getting out there and focusing on ways to get the world to see if, then you’re gonna have a great product but you’re not gonna have a great business. I think that that’s important thing is that a business is much, much more than just the product that you’re putting out there. So you mentioned building up that support by hiring someone. Do you have a team at this point? Like what is the kind of, who’s working behind the scenes over at the business?
Patrick: So, I’ve got Lewis who is my CMO and just kind of, he’s a business partner, and just my right-hand guy. We spend 50, 60 hours a week working on the company and neither of us do the order fulfillment or anything like that. It’s all just trying to grow the business in all the different strategies we have. So we’re kind of the two leaders of the company I’d say. Then we’ve got multiple other, I maybe should let Lewis explain this, but we’ve got other people in the office, we have people dedicated to helping us grow on social media. We actually started an LLC, specifically for growing just us and any other companies on social media, using our, we call it guerrilla strategies of just brute forcing your way into the market.
Patrick: You don’t need an ad budget, you don’t need a huge following. There’s a lot of stuff you can do that’s worth your time that if you just sit down and do all this work, you can have a lot of great success on social media. We spend, we probably have 40 to 80 man hours a week devoted to just direct social media stuff. We do a lot of stuff on Pinterest now for example. Then we got five to eight ring makers at any given moment and then another couple office hands. So there’s probably, between all of our employees and contractors, there’s at least 20 people at any given moment working on Patrick Adair Design stuff, I’d say.
Felix: Awesome. Now, what about running the online store itself. Are there any apps or services that you depend on?
Patrick: I let Lewis go into this.
Lewis: Yeah. So I primarily oversee that. Services, we’re really big on email marketing. We do huge portions because we’re selling in luxury jewelry so there’s a really long customer acquisition window. Sometimes we’re seeing 45 days from the first touch to conversion. So we want to make sure we’re following up, so we use email and Facebook retargeting heavily for that. My favorite email marketing service that integrates with Shopify if Klaviyo. I just think it has the strongest like it integrates the easiest and has the most power there. Because we’re doing so much with email, of course, lead capture for email is really important, so we use Justuno for our pop-up captures and our banners on our site. The other big thing, all of our products are made to order, so we use Product Options by Bold, so they can be highly customizable. We have products that have I mean literally probably over 100,000 variants depending on how you customize it. And all of those have different price points. Say you want a ring that has diamonds, and glows this color, and also incorporates this other material, we have to price that out. So we use Product Options by Bold for that.
Lewis: We’re really heavy on G-Suite, the entire Google atmosphere, like Google Drive, Google Sheets. We use G-Suite for our emails. All the other tools we use, all the other apps are kind of like, they get changed out on probably almost like every two months we will because we’re just always trying to optimize and see which is the best one. We’re always switching between which Facebook Messenger Bot do we like the best, which customer review acquisition apps are the best. So I don’t really have solid recommendations of favorites there. Because we’re doing it, but we’re always grabbing the next app and then comparing to see what we like from one, what we like from the other, deciding which one to keep, and then we see another one come out and we test that. Just always trying to optimize for that little extra few percentage points of conversion rate.
Felix: Right. That’s certainly the name of the game. Just testing out little different things to move the needle a little bit. So that you so much for your time Patrick and Lewis of PatrickAdairDesigns.com is their website. What’s something new that you guys are focusing on in 2019? Where do you have your attention these days?
Patrick: Pinterest has been a huge thing for us. We have made some connections with a lot of really successful Pinterest users and they’ve shown us a lot of stuff that we’re missing out on. Pinterest is kind of this fantastic place that people I think underrate it. Especially if you don’t have a following. In my opinion, I think it’s one of the most straightforward ways for you to grow as a small business, just online. It’s the best place to get a lot of impressions through social media without any sort of following.
Lewis: I think with that one we’re just trying to really like we said we focus 40 to 80 hours a week on social media, and particularity growing our top of the funnel so we can grow as a company. So Pinterest is one we’re super passionate about. It’s just right now, who knows if, because social media platforms are constantly changing what they’re doing. But right now it’s the easiest way to basically get free, it’s not free because you’re always devoting time, so you have a time cost. But as far as organic traffic, it’s one of the easiest platforms to grow really fast organically. Yeah, we’re just all in on Pinterest and increasing our sales channel diversity throughout 2019.
Felix: Awesome. Again, thank you so much for your time guys.
Patrick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Great to talk to you. Thanks for having us on.