S5E4 From Web Hosting to AI-Powered Book publishing in 3 days With Bo Bennett

S5E4 – From Web Hosting to AI-Powered Book publishing in 3 days With Bo Bennett

From Web Hosting to AI-Powered Book publishing in 3 days.

In today’s fast-paced world, the landscape of book writing has undergone a revolutionary transformation with the integration of AI technology. In this episode of the Payback Time Podcast, host Sean Tepper sits down with serial entrepreneur Bo Bennett, who harnessed this cutting-edge innovation to develop a platform enabling aspiring authors to realize their book ideas in a fraction of the time it would traditionally take. With AI making its mark across various industries, it’s no surprise that the world of book writing is also embracing this transformative technology.


One of the key advantages of using AI in book writing is the speed and efficiency it offers. Instead of spending months or even years crafting a book, authors can now leverage AI-powered platforms to generate content quickly and effectively. This not only saves time but also opens up opportunities for individuals who may have been hesitant to embark on the daunting journey of writing a book.


Moreover, AI in book writing provides a level of accessibility that was previously unimaginable. By simplifying the writing process and offering user-friendly interfaces, individuals with varying levels of writing experience can now easily create and publish their books. This democratization of book writing empowers more people to share their stories and ideas with the world, contributing to a more diverse literary landscape.


Another compelling aspect of utilizing AI in book writing is the ability to enhance creativity and inspiration. AI algorithms can suggest innovative ideas, refine content, and even assist in generating captivating titles and subtitles. By collaborating with AI, authors can tap into a wealth of possibilities and explore new horizons in their writing endeavors, ultimately fostering a more dynamic and engaging reading experience for audiences.

Bo’s Background

Bo shares that he ventured into various business endeavors after selling his first business in the ’90s. His current focus is on a SaaS company that streamlines book writing with AI technology, allowing users to write and publish a book in just three days. Bo reveals a lesser-known fact about himself, highlighting his experience in writing, producing, and publishing an animated adult sitcom called “Squat.” This project involved collaboration with talented voice actors and can be found on YouTube.

Entrepreneurial Journey with Ad Graphics 

Bo delves into his past business success with Ad Graphics, a web hosting company he founded in 1995. He discusses the challenges of convincing businesses of the importance of having a website during a time when web hosting was a novel concept.

Innovative Web Hosting Model

Bo elaborates on Ad Graphics’ innovative approach to web hosting, offering web-based solutions that allows clients to manage and create their websites online, a groundbreaking concept at the time. Bo describes Ad Graphics as a hybrid between traditional web hosting services and comprehensive online solutions, catering primarily to small businesses seeking web presence without the complexities of self-hosting.

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Evolution of Web Hosting

Bo reflects on the evolution of web hosting services, emphasizing the shift towards cloud-based solutions and the advantages of utilizing platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS) for hosting needs.

Challenges of Physical Server Management

Bo recounts the challenges and limitations of managing physical server rooms, including issues with server crashes, air conditioning failures, and the demanding nature of maintaining server infrastructure.

Lessons from Business Sale

Bo shares insights from selling his business for $20 million in 2001, highlighting the importance of recognizing market trends and seizing opportunities before the dot-com bubble burst. Bo clarifies that his initial business was bootstrapped without external investors, emphasizing the journey of starting with minimal resources and scaling the business successfully.

Transition to Book Publishing

Bo’s entrepreneurial path led him to delve into book publishing ventures, culminating in the creation of eBooket, a platform facilitating the creation and publication of ebooks. This venture evolved to offer comprehensive book marketing services over time.

Innovative Book Writing Services

Bo introduces his current SaaS businesses focusing on AI-driven book creation and publishing. The service enables users to write books efficiently by leveraging AI technology for content generation and narration.

Subscription-Based Model

Bo explains the pricing structure of his book writing services, offering both per-book pricing based on characters and subscription plans for regular book creation. The platform aims to streamline the book writing process for aspiring authors.

Marketing Strategies

Bo details his marketing approach, emphasizing the success of Google Ads in promoting his book writing services. He highlights the importance of targeted advertising and continuous optimization to drive results effectively.

Insights on Advertisements

Bo shares his experiences with Facebook ads for his AI-driven book services, noting the challenges posed by negative feedback and skepticism towards AI technology in the market. He emphasizes the need for strategic marketing approaches aligned with audience preferences. Bo concludes by highlighting the value of Bookbud AI in simplifying the book writing process and empowering individuals to realize their creative ideas efficiently. He underscores the significance of technological advancements in facilitating creative endeavors and entrepreneurial ventures.

Key Timecodes

  • (00:49) – Show intro and background history
  • (05:46) – Deeper into his background history and business model
  • (08:32) – Understanding his business numbers and strategies
  • (11:39) – Why and when he sold this company
  • (15:06) – A bit about his business today
  • (19:18) – Deeper into his business tactics
  • (21:21) – Understanding his new business model and strategies
  • (28:29) – A bit about his growth and marketing tactics
  • (40:07) – Deeper into his business model today
  • (47:21) – Guest contacts


[00:00:00.000] – Show Intro
Introducing Payback Time, the podcast for entrepreneurs looking to build and scale their startups, gain access to actionable tips, proven strategies, and valuable data that can help you avoid mistakes, skyrocket sales, and optimize profits. Your business breakthrough may just be an episode away.
[00:00:17.730] – Guest Intro
My next guest built his first business in the ’90s and eventually sold it for about $20 million just around the time of the dot-com level. Well, since then, he’s built a few other companies, but today, he’s working on a SaaS business business that helps you write books in a lot less time. In fact, it’s a SaaS company that integrates with AI, and you can actually write and publish a book in about three days. In this episode, he talks about what works and what doesn’t work with marketing, and he breaks down his entrepreneurial journey. All right, please welcome Bo Bennett.
[00:00:50.100] – Sean
Bo, welcome to the show.
[00:00:51.720] – Bo
Thank you. Great to be here.
[00:00:53.420] – Sean
Yeah, thanks for joining me. So before we dive into your business background, could you share with the audience something unique that most people don’t know about you.
[00:01:01.450] – Bo
Most people probably don’t know that I wrote, produced, animated, voiced, and I guess, published a sitcom, an adult sitcom. I don’t want to take all the credit for it. I have a partner that helped me with some of the writing, and I have a team of probably 15 very talented voice actors that helped me voice it. It’s a great production. It’s really fun. It’s called Squat, and it’s on YouTube. But if you Google on YouTube Squat, you’re going to get all these videos about how to do the best squats. It’s just go to squatspotfitness. Com, and I’ll jump you over to my YouTube channel. But it’s a very entertaining sitcom, at least I think so.
[00:01:50.210] – Sean
I will check it out. That’s awesome. Definitely unique. Nobody on this podcast has ever talked about being in the TV or movie industry before, so Sweet. We’ll talk about movies a little bit later. But first things first. I want to learn about your business background, and then I want to learn about a business you’re working on today that seems to be connecting books with AI. We’ll define that in a little bit. But I was reading about you offline. You built a business in your 20s and sold it for $20 million. Could you give us the name of the business? What did it do? We’re going to really unpack that journey for our listeners.
[00:02:25.150] – Bo
The name of the business was called Ad Graphics. It actually started as a graphic design firm, thus the name, and then very quickly it transitioned to Web Hosting. But we kept the name. Why? I don’t know. But that’s what it was, basically. It was not just Web Hosting, too. You got to put yourself into the context of when this took place. It was web hosting in 1995. This is before most people knew what the internet was, let alone web hosting. So it was a real challenge convincing businesses, believe it or not, that, Hey, you really need this thing called a website. And that was our general goal, to convince people they needed a website and then provide the tools for them and build it for them and so forth.
[00:03:07.100] – Sean
Got it. So was this a service business? Were you actually providing a service or did you have some early SaaS model?
[00:03:14.880] – Bo
It was mostly… It’s funny. I wouldn’t define it as a service because we didn’t really do website design. As a programmer, I created created the software that allowed people to upload their own websites and create their own websites online using a web-based hosting system. You’re probably thinking right now, Everybody has that. Well, yeah, now. But before, this was completely unheard of. And that’s why I started the company, because the people I was working with back in 1994, it was incredibly archaic to make a website. You had to go programming text-based with Unix, and everything was coding with HTML, like text files, and it was really old school. So this was really a ground-breaking business. The business was web hosting. We were basically renting space on the server, and we tried to minimize the service aspect of it as much as possible. And we had a whole bunch of resellers that would build websites for the clients. So when they needed that service, we just referred them over to them.
[00:04:27.590] – Sean
Got it. So I’m looking at two different categories, your web hosting service providers out there, such as a GoDaddy or a HostGator. There’s also network solutions, a few that come to mind. And then I think about the website builders that have become a reality these days that replaced WordPress, you look at sites like Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify. So this sounds like it was closer to the GoDaddy business model?
[00:04:54.740] – Bo
Yeah, it might even been a hybrid between the two because it was It was a lot more than just websites. We had… Well, I guess, again, it’s not that mind-blowing today, but we had a lot of different software and service built into this. People did want e-commerce. We had e-commerce solutions, and they didn’t have to build an e-commerce store. It was just really a web-based thing that they just pull up things into, and then they have their store. Sure. I think it would be best described as a hybrid, Not like Squarespace, but like a GoDaddy as well.
[00:05:33.630] – Sean
Interesting. Gosh, you were way ahead of the curve on that. I remember the ’90s, building a website. You had to know HTML. I don’t think WordPress was really even a thing back then. No. Good for you. Okay, so I assume you worked with small mid-size businesses. Was that your target?
[00:05:52.180] – Bo
Yes. Yeah, definitely small. We noticed that a lot of the large businesses were getting their own hosting server, in-house servers, and trying to do it themselves. And that quickly failed. They realized that that’s not a good idea with all of the overhead, especially when services like Amazon, AWS, came about, where you can just lease space on Amazon servers and have them take care of where 95 % of all the headaches come from. And they do a fantastic job. We’ve been using Amazon for our hosting since 2000. Yeah.
[00:06:32.570] – Sean
I remember running into companies, even in the… We’re talking almost 2010 that still had on-prem server rooms with fans and air conditioners. And I’m like, Oh, like 1995, called them, went their server farm back. What are you doing? Like you said, AWS is great. Azure is great. Even Google Cloud, Rack Space. I mean, the list goes on. These are all cloud solutions. You don’t have to have a room in a building.
[00:07:01.910] – Bo
Oh, my goodness. But that’s how we started. That’s how Adrepic started. We had a literal room. We moved into a new building, and we had to convince the landlord to install a generator. We had to pay for it. So we had 24 hour backup. We had to get T1 lines into, which is funny when you think about it now. T1 line is, I don’t even remember the speed. I remember those. But it’s horrible compared to what’s available today. And This was for an entire server farm. And then the room had to be properly air-conditioned. And we constantly, constantly had problems with the air conditioner crashing and it being too hot, servers crashing, like drives going. I mean, it was like a nightmare to run. I hated the physical part of it. We were actually up in Vermont once on vacation. I’m from Massachusetts, and that’s where the server farm was, our server farm. And as soon as we got up to Vermont, I got all these notices, like the servers crashed, and I had to drive back from Vermont in order to take care of the issues. That was my life for essentially six years.
[00:08:09.320] – Bo
And then after that, I vowed never to deal with that again. And I ended up buying a data center like a year after. Just a glutton for punishment. Exactly.
[00:08:19.910] – Sean
All right, so let’s keep diving into this. I’m going to ask a few questions about sales and marketing. We know that that has evolved since we’re looking at 20 years later. But let’s dive into the numbers a little bit with your customers. I assume you charge them a monthly fee or a yearly fee. Is that correct?
[00:08:40.840] – Bo
Yes. Most of them paid monthly, and we had a few different plans, starting at like $10 going up to $100 if they’re going to get a dedicated server with us.
[00:08:49.780] – Sean
Got you. Okay. And then your acquisition model, were you pitching customers or did you put up some referral-based system?
[00:08:57.260] – Bo
So this is another interesting story because remember, 1995, we started what was called… We called it a Reseller program, but essentially it was an affiliate program two years before Amazon came out with theirs. And we had… Our customers, we basically turned them into affiliates, and they were the ones selling the servers for us. So all of our customers had businesses, they had websites, and basically the pitch was, Hey, do you want a cool website like this? You really need to host your business. Click here. And then we did the whole referral with the cookies and with IP address tracking. Pretty basic, pretty archaic at the time. I mean, now, but at the time, it was Very advanced. Very advanced. And it did the trick. It really motivated our resellers to go out and sell. They got paid for it. They were very happy. We were happy. And it just really exploded the business.
[00:09:59.500] – Sean
When you empower your customers to share your product, that’s a brilliant model.
[00:10:05.030] – Bo
Can you share-Yeah, go ahead. I want to give a quick interesting aside. I basically tried to create affiliate program a year ago for all the stuff we do now, and nobody is interested. Not that our stuff isn’t interesting. Every now and then, I get somebody, Oh, I’d love to refer somebody, but people generally don’t do it. Back when we did the affiliate program, people were jumping in for the opportunity to be able to do this. But the affiliate market is so incredibly crowded now that it’s just all white noise. So we ended up shutting down that affiliate program just because it wasn’t enough interest. And I think I did a better job this time than I did 25 years ago. But it’s just how much the industry has changed that makes the difference.
[00:10:53.720] – Sean
No, that’s really good perspective, because I actually was talking to a gentleman recently that makes all this money off affiliate And he’s like, if you really want to get ahead as an affiliate, you need an audience, you need systems. You got to take it serious. Whereas what you were talking about was simple conversation. Hey, check this server option out. You should sign up. It’s pretty passive stuff. These days, it is a full-on job, and it’s a lot of work. We have an affiliate program with Tykr, our main business, and 99 % of the people that join the program don’t make any money because they don’t have an audience, they’re not taking it serious, which I don’t blame them. They’ve got their own day job. But if you want to make money as an affiliate, you got to be all in. Yeah. All right. So you started this in 1995. When did you sell? Did you sell it before the. Com? Yes. You did. Okay.
[00:11:49.820] – Bo
It was 2001. Okay. And I think when we signed the papers, it was after the bust, but everything was in motion. And I I hate to sound like I’m too much of a prognosticator, but I saw it coming. I mean, anybody who lived through that, it should have been crystal clear what was happening, like how crazy these evaluations were and what people were paying for these companies, these dot-coms. And you look at the product and the service, like what are they doing? What are they selling? It’s like nothing. They’re not making money, but yet people are just throwing money at them. So you knew this is not sustainable. This can’t happen. So we were evaluated at, I think, four times revenue, four times yearly revenue, I think, or monthly. I forgot. But it was an incredible amount. There’s no way that our company was worth that much in today’s market. If we were selling a product today and making the same amount of revenue, there’s no way somebody would have paid $20 million for us. So that’s why I jumped on the opportunity. I’m like, Yes, absolutely. Let’s do it. And that was in March of 2001 when we actually sold.
[00:13:10.640] – Bo
I’d have to check the historical records to see when the bust actually happened. But I knew it was around there. And unfortunately for me, the majority of that $20 million was in stock in the company that bought us. And they ended up tanking after a year or two. And I couldn’t get all of my money out, but we did some things with some financial papers or something. It was a way for us to get a good chunk of the money out, but not all of it. So at the end of the day, I ended up getting, I think it was like 12 million. And I like to tell the story that I lost $8 million because that’s more interesting.
[00:13:52.500] – Sean
Right. People are trying to avoid losses. That is a common problem I see with people selling a business is the company buying them is going to have… It could be all stock, it could be a mix between stock and cash. You got to weigh your options there. Do you have high conviction? This is where we at Tykr, we analyze businesses or look at businesses that are going to be around more than two months out. It’s like, We want strong businesses, Warren Buffet style. We’re looking 10 years out, and I want strong conviction that, yeah, my stock is going to be safe. In your case, it’s like, oh, boy, I don’t know. Like you said, I don’t know if you’re getting my money, but still, I look at how you came out, 12 million is pretty good, considering there are a lot of businesses that literally slap dot com on their name, and they provide no valuable service. And now they’re a VC-back company that’s valued at 50 million. It’s like, what are we doing here?
[00:14:49.960] – Bo
[00:14:51.440] – Sean
Yeah. Well, good for you for getting out. Still, that’s a decent take home. Now, did you have investors in this business? No.
[00:14:58.990] – Bo
No. Nice. It was all bootstrapped. We started with a couple of credit cards, and we just grew it from there.
[00:15:05.710] – Sean
The hustle is real. Yeah. Put it on credit. Yeah. Nice. All right. So after that, let’s just briefly go over the timeline here, and then we’ll touch on this new business you are working on today. Lay out the timeline here at a high level. Yeah.
[00:15:24.720] – Bo
So that was 2001 when I sold. I spent 2001 to 2002 writing a book called Year to Success. That was the first book that I wrote. Now I have about 12 different books that I’ve written over the years. But that was the first one I wrote, and it was really about success, motivation, capitalizing on the sale of that company. At the same time, in 2001, I started a company called Archiboy Holdings, which I knew that I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure what. So it was a holding company for whatever activities, ventures I wanted to do. So from 2002 to about 2010 was a strange time for me, jumping into a whole bunch of different ventures, like trying different things in the real world and online. Then even just taking some time off. I spent three years of my life debating on debate boards for an embarrassingly large amount of time each day. But that’s what led me to go back to school and get a PhD, that whole experience and really study logic, philosophy, psychology. It wasn’t really wasted. It seemed like a waste of time, and it was just three years of being angry because that’s what happens when you’re constantly debating people.
[00:16:52.730] – Bo
Then in 2010, I started my first company to help help with publishing. It was called eBooket, and that allowed people to create ebooks, and we created the ebooks for them, and then we helped them publish it. We have relationships with all the major vendors. Then over the years, We’ve expanded that from ebooks to ebooks and printbooks and audiobooks and full book marketing services. And now we have the companies that use AI technology to actually write the books for the authors, which is just amazing, like mind-blowing stuff. And it does a beautiful job. And then we do all the publishing for them. And the narration of the book is done via AI, like cloned voices. So narrators could come to us and give us a sample of their voice. We clone it, and it sounds amazing. And it’s not our technology. We’re using technology from some of the major players out there, but we’ve basically created the interface for the publishing industry.
[00:18:02.250] – Sean
Got you. So this sounds like more of a B2C play. Consumers can go get their book idea created. Is that correct?
[00:18:11.140] – Bo
Yes, for the most part.
[00:18:12.440] – Sean
Got it. Okay, let’s take a quick commercial break.
[00:18:15.340] – Commercial Break
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[00:19:19.400] – Sean
Is this a per-use? I think of we use OpenAI for a part of our tool, so it’s based on amount of characters and And I think characters is the fact there might be something else, but that gives you, okay, so this is how much you’re going to spend per month.
[00:19:37.680] – Bo
The Bookbud. Ai business is a monthly service for the most part, so people could subscribe to it. That’s where the vast majority… Not vast. That’s where the majority of the income comes from. Whereas we also give users the ability just to buy what we call characters, and you know how OpenAI charges via character That’s how they charge us on the back-end. We charge our clients via characters. So if they just want to do one book done and finished, then they could just pay us a higher amount just to do that, and they could do it on their own. Or if they want to create books on a regular basis and really get into the publishing business and make money with the books, then they subscribe to one of the plans. And one of the plans even goes up to 30 books a day you can create. So that’s where the vast the vast majority of the revenues come from. And it is a do it yourself platform. We do have an option called the Ghostwriting Service, where people have no clue what they’re doing. No matter how easy we make it, how many videos we provide, online courses, services.
[00:20:45.530] – Bo
Some people still just don’t get it. But these are the people that I’ve worked with since 1995 that just don’t get the internet in general. What’s the cup holder on my computer for the CD, Rob? Those people. So there’s always going to be that portion of it. So we have a service aspect of the business, but the vast majority is the do it yourself.
[00:21:10.690] – Sean
Got it. So let’s dive into that a little bit. Let’s say I have an idea, and I’ll use a real example here. So over the last three years, I’ve interviewed a lot of entrepreneurs like yourself and learning the reality of creating passive income. A lot of people say it’s made up. Mostly, yes, depending on your model, some take a little more work than others. But I was actually going to summarize what I would say are the 10 best business models you can create if you’re sick of your corporate job, you’re trying to come up with an idea, this book will really summarize, here are 10 business models you can pursue that have legs probably over the next 10 years for sure, and break down everything. Right now, I really just have a high level of what those 10 are, but I need time. I don’t have time right now. I need time to write the book. Yeah, that’s perfect. So what could I do then? Go to this service and would help me write it?
[00:22:11.310] – Bo
That’s perfect because you have those 10 ideas. So you could start with Creating the table of contents, and you could feed it into the table of contents. You could say include these 10 topics somewhere in the table of contents. Ai will come up with a revised table of contents, filling in the details. And then you go to the next step, and then It’ll pick out some titles for you, not just cool titles, but really marketable titles. Titals are very important. So it gives you a choice of 25, and you could mix and match the subtitles with the titles, put it together, and get something that’s really good. And then you moved to the layout. You have the table of contents. Now you could define each section, and this is where you send it to AI. So for example, if you have opportunity number one for passive income, and you have a bunch of notes, like, Here’s what I want to say about it, you just feed that in for that section. So for each section, you could tell AI what you want to include in that section, and it will do that. It will fill in all the gaps.
[00:23:15.830] – Bo
With non-fiction books, it does an amazing job doing that. But I always tell people, if you have something very specific in mind, and as an author, you may have already written this book completely in your mind. And that’s where it becomes a problem because you know exactly what you want to say, but AI may take it in a different direction. So it depends on how much information you feed it and how specific you are, and it’ll use that information, but it will fill in the gaps with its own information. When it comes to non-fiction and it comes to information that AI has access to through the public record, how the model was trained, it will do an amazing job by filling in all of that information accurately and persuasively and with very articulate writing as well. It gets to be a problem when people try to ask AI to fill in the gaps of, let’s say, their history. They’re trying to write an autobiography. Oh, sure. Ai will make up a whole bunch of crazy crap about you. And they tell me, Hey, this isn’t me. I never did this. Well, AI doesn’t know who you are.
[00:24:27.360] – Bo
Unless you’re some public figure, it doesn’t know. And there’s a big warning there. It’s like, you got to realize what AI does know and has access to versus what it has no idea. And when it has no idea and it’s asked to write about something, it’s going to get creative and make crap up. And sometimes that’s okay. But when people are writing non-conviction books, typically they don’t want it to get too creative.
[00:24:54.610] – Sean
Right. So it sounds like you have to monitor it a little bit. You put in the ideas, it’ll spit back larger chunks of content. You have to review it, and then do you reply back to it and say, Hey, looking good, but could you rephrase it or maybe make changes here and there? Is that how it works.
[00:25:16.330] – Bo
Well, it is an interactive process, but not like that. Once it writes it, then you should, if you do things correctly, you should at that point be able to, when it writes it, you should be, That’s good. That’s what you should say. Okay, this is great. The other option is like, No, this isn’t what I’m going for. Then you just go back and you review all of the information that you fed it previously and you see what you have to change. I always tell people, you don’t write the whole book at once because you start with just send a couple of chapters, a couple of sections, actually, and review those sections. If you’re thinking, Okay, AI has got it. This is what I want, then you complete the rest. But if the first section that’s not quite there, then you revise your earlier information. So yes, it is like an interactive process, and that’s the way it works. It’s simplified in that way.
[00:26:12.470] – Sean
Got you. Can you tell us, what do you charge for this product?
[00:26:17.820] – Bo
To write a book ranges from $40 per book if you’re just buying one-time characters, we call them non-expiring characters, meaning that You could just buy as many characters as you want, and then they could sit in your account, and you could take as long as you want to write the book, and you could write multiple books if you have a lot of characters. So it’s typically $40 per book. We consider a book like 100 six by nine pages. It’s about 20,000 words, 200,000 characters. Maybe my math is a little bit off, but I think it might be 30,000 words or something. In any case, it’s your typical non-fiction book. And then Based on the different plans that you subscribe to, you can get that price down to $15 per book.
[00:27:08.990] – Sean
Got you. And is this something you started on your own or do you have partners?
[00:27:13.810] – Bo
No, started on my own.
[00:27:15.310] – Sean
Good for you. And how big is your team?
[00:27:18.530] – Bo
Well, that’s always an interesting question, isn’t it? Who is actually part of your team? Contractors. Because we work with a lot of different contractors that do different things. And I would say that they’re part of my team, but I wouldn’t necessarily put their names and pictures on our website. Our core team, let’s call it, would be myself, a tech I’ve been working with for ages who manages the server, the higher end of keeping the server up to date. And then my daughter, she does the ghost writing services. So she works with clients directly who want us to do everything for them. And then I’ve got two other people that help me with all the marketing of the books and the submissions and a lot of the project management. So about five of us.
[00:28:07.470] – Sean
Nice. Our model is very similar. I’m actually the only technical employee of the company that Otherwise, it’s all contractors, six or seven. But yeah, in this world we live in, it’s like you’ve got the right tech, you’ve got Zoom, people have the right tools on their computer. You can move quickly without all the paperwork of hiring somebody. So Some of the toughest parts of building a business, a lot of entrepreneurs get hung up with sales and marketing. So what’s your growth strategy?
[00:28:39.050] – Bo
Well, as you alluded to earlier, sales and marketing has changed quite a bit in the last 30 years. When we started, again, we were using the affiliate model. And I don’t even remember if we did anything else. I don’t think we did. I think I might have played around with putting an ad in a newspaper or something, really old-school marketing, but that didn’t work. With Bookbud, it’s almost exclusively through Google Ads. That seems to be that we We’ve found that silver bullet, that elusive silver bullet, where if you put in $10, you get $15 or $20 back. With so many different businesses and products I’ve tried over the There’s like, Google Ads just did not work because we’re competing typically against people who like selling cars, selling insurance. They make a major amount of money with each sale, and you compete internationally. So it just got really competitive, and it basically priced us out when we’re selling a $50 book promotion where we make like 10 or 15 bucks on it. Similarly, with trying to sell books, I played around with Google advertising and similar type of advertising. You can’t realistically make money on when you make a couple of dollars per book and you have to pay that much for ads.
[00:30:12.770] – Bo
But with a recurring service like this with a subscription-based service, it really does work if you have the right number of subscriptions with the right cancelation balance, and you could keep your ads really targeted. So we seem to have found that. We’re going to ride this wave as long as we can, because if anybody knows who did things similar like this before, it’s not consistent. It won’t always stay like this. You constantly have to fiddle with it week after week or even month after month to make sure that you’re still getting that same return. And at any day, this could just stop. There could be a flood of competitors that come on and price us out and work up the bidding on Google so we don’t make money anymore. A lot of things could happen.
[00:31:04.180] – Sean
I want to unpack that a little bit because we and I always like to give a real-life example. So we tried two different agencies in 2023 for advertising, both failed with flying colors, not able to generate any revenue for us. Big talk, no results. Awesome. And that’s the name of the game. The listeners out there, if you don’t already know, Facebook ads, Google ads, YouTube ads, it’s hard to make money. It is really hard to make money. And if you find somebody that actually is, that’s the moment where you have my attention. What are you doing? So let’s hear about that right now. Did you have a trial and error process? You learn from your mistakes, or how are you making money on ads?
[00:31:49.440] – Bo
Before I answer that, I want to echo what you just said, because I literally went through over 10 different agencies in In the past five years or so, not for this AI, but for Bookmarketing, Bookmarketing. Pro, the company that we were running. And everyone, they give us the same story. First, they show us an incredibly impressive client list. They show us screenshots of how they made their clients millions of dollars. And then they charge a ridiculous sum to get the campaign going. And they make all these promises, and not one of them, out of well over 10, not one of them has even come close to doing anything that’s even considered respectable in terms of returns. And as you said, their business model is all like smoke and mirrors. If they could get you to give you their money, they make the money, and you lose the money, they don’t care. It’s like when people invest in business, invest in the stock market. You’ve got the people who sell the stocks or whatever. They make money no matter what. They don’t care. And that’s how these companies operate. So, yes, I’ve been through plenty of them, and I could echo that with complete and total passion.
[00:33:07.790] – Bo
Be careful. Stay away. And you’re much better off just learning some of the basics. Watch YouTube. Youtube has a lot of great videos with people showing you how to do things with new updates, some tips and tricks. And Google is actually really helpful, too. Facebook, not so much, but Google, they’ll work with you to help you refine your campaign. And now to your question, what did we do? How did we make this work? Well, I think as much as I’d like to give myself credit for some brilliant process that took me to where I am today, I think I have to credit the product and the market, mostly, with this success, because it’s something that people are incredibly interested in and something that people desperately want. So when you have that combination, I think like virtually any ads will work extremely well, as opposed to if you’re selling something not that’s necessarily not necessarily a stupid product or uninteresting, but something that maybe you even have a crowded marketplace when there’s just too much competition. There’s a lot of factors that go in. That’s why I said before, I’m going to keep on writing this until I can.
[00:34:31.570] – Bo
I don’t think it’s going to go like this forever. Eventually, we’re going to get to a point where the amount we’re putting in is just far outweighs the amount we’re getting back. I think that will happen, but now it’s not. To give you, I guess, some things that I did do, I just started low. I started with $100 a day. I know for some people that may be high, but then I moved from, say, $3,000 a month. We up to $30,000 a month in ad spend, which I think is a lot compared to what I typically do. But I know a lot of companies spend astronomical amount of money on ads. That puts my 30 grand to shame. But I didn’t just jump in with 30,000. I figured, okay, well, if 3,000 works, let’s see, 5,000 works. Let’s double it. So every week I just monitor the results and I keep detailed statistics. As a social scientist, as a data guy, I’d like to keep numbers to see what’s going on with the number of subscriptions, cancelations. What is the length between a subscription and cancelation? Why are people canceling? The number of people that sign up, the ratio, how much are people spending on services?
[00:35:53.710] – Bo
And of course, that goes to financing a lot of this. So there’s just a big spreadsheet that I I just keep track week after week. And when I see things, every week, I’ll make a tweak here and there, and I’ll see if that’s a good tweak or a bad tweak. And if it’s a bad tweak, I go back, and then I’ll make a new tweak. And that’s a good tweak. Good. I’ll keep that one, and I’ll keep on changing it. I think one of the big problems that a lot of people make on doing this is, well, they’re not data scientists. You don’t have to be a data scientist, but you have to have at least a decent scientific mind, at at least be decent when it comes to dealing with data. And you have to know the concept of statistical significance, because that’s incredibly important. People will see they’ll make 100 sales in one week, They’ll make a change and they may get 95 sales the next week, and they’ll determine that change to be a failure. Why? Because they made five fewer sales. Well, that’s not the way it works. That’s within a very reasonable statistical significance, which means that you have a margin of error.
[00:37:04.680] – Bo
It’s just you’re never going to get… If you keep everything the same, you’re never going to get the same amount every day or every week. Over time, it’s probably going to be the same, but there’s a lot of variation, and that’s the way data works. That’s the way numbers work. So you can’t be freaked out by little jumps in data that really have nothing to do with the changes you make. You have to, I guess, be wise enough to recognize that this is just noise in the data and just look at the overall trend and where things are going and then act on those trends.
[00:37:39.260] – Sean
That’s one of the best overviews of ad spend I’ve ever And thank you for your transparency there. It’s the best I’ve ever heard when explaining ads. And I’ve talked to agencies, I’ve talked to gurus out there. And what you’re talking about is 100 % spot on, is you want an Excel sheet with… Because your first ad you create that you think is going to make you money is most likely not going to work. They’ll start with 20, or 30, or 40 different ads, and they’ll A/B test against each other. And it’s a lot of money going out the door for about three to six months to optimize that from, let’s say, you start with 50, you optimize down to 40, then down to 30, then down to 20. And then you start to figure out, okay, what are the best performing ads based on the copy and the colors and the photos and everything in between? It is very scientific. I mean, people think about, Oh, you need to be creative. It’s like, gosh, I’d say it’s probably like 20 to 30 % creative and probably about 70 to 80 % analytical to do ads right.
[00:38:49.790] – Bo
Right. And even nowadays, you could use AI to help you with the creativity if you don’t have it there. And I guess you could use AI to help with the analytics as well.
[00:38:59.080] – Sean
I like your approach there. Start small, go to YouTube, start with 100 bucks, dial that up as you go. And if you’re seeing results, then that’s when you really turn on the fire hose. Unfortunately, I see too many people, they turn on the fire hose without any testing, and they throw all that money out the window. You don’t want to do that. Let’s take a quick commercial break. If someone tells you to buy a stock, the last thing you should do is buy that stock. The first thing you should do is ask why. Unfortunately, a lot of influencers on YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, or some other social media app are giving really bad stock recommendations and investment advice. The question is, how do you determine if what these people say is good advice or bad advice? That’s where Tykr can help. Tykr quickly cuts through the clutter to determine if a stock is a good or bad investment. But don’t take my word for it. Check out our Trustpilot to see what our customers have to say. As of today, we have a Trustpilot score of 4.9 out of 5. Get started today with a free trial.
[00:39:59.280] – Sean
Visit Tykr. Com. That’s T-Y-K-R. Com. Again, tykr. Com. All right, back to the show. Anything else you’re doing with sales and marketing?
[00:40:10.640] – Bo
I want to get back into Facebook ads. I use Facebook ads for… I think this is funny. I use Facebook ads for Bookmarketing Pro, and those worked well. I definitely got the money’s worth. But Bookmarketing as Pro is more a service space business because there’s stuff we have to do to help people market their books. And it works, and it works well. But I stopped doing that because this BookBut AI is more of the passive income type of business where I don’t have to do anything and the money still comes in. Of course, that’s an exaggeration. I do a heck of a lot of work in the back-end to keep things going and support and stuff. But I don’t have to do it per client. There’s not a work I have to do per client. So we’ve been putting our money into Google, and I tried putting ads on Facebook for Bookbud. Ai and for my other company, Author Voices, that allows people to narrate their book with cloned voices and AI-based voices. And you wouldn’t believe the hatred and the vitriol in the comments from these businesses. People are terrified of AI. They think it’s demonic.
[00:41:32.050] – Bo
Some of them do. They think it’s going to kill our society. They think it’s cheating. They think it’s unethical. I mean, the comments that come, I just couldn’t handle it. I mean, there’s no way an ad would do well I have that hatred and all those little mean faces on the ad. I can’t keep clearing them out every day, so I just said, screw it. I’m going to put that money into an ad where people are actually looking for that service, not that people are having to come upon them. That’s It’s an interesting distinction that I made over the years. The Google ads are ads where people are actually looking for what you have to offer, and that’s how you match them up with the keywords and stuff. Whereas the Facebook ads are more about population-driven ads. If you think my services would be great for authors, aspiring authors, and they would. I mean, that’s my market, but that’s only a fraction of my market. The other fraction of the authors are people who can’t stand AI and think that it’s taking away their jobs. And so you got to keep that in mind, too.
[00:42:39.130] – Bo
So I did Facebook, and I will do Facebook again for book marketing because that worked well again once I’m ready to pick that up. But with the Bookbud or the author voices that have the AI technology behind it, it was pretty much a disaster for me.
[00:42:56.770] – Sean
Interesting. Good to hear your perspective. And that’s funny. You say those things about AI, the comments all over the spectrum, like this is a tool for good, this is a tool for bad, it’s going to take over the world. And my thoughts are, no, it’s not, and only can access a certain amount of data, and you got to be able to train it ongoing, and if you really want to use it to your advantage. But anyway, I digress. But no, this is really good to know about your model. Exciting to hear you’re building a tool that can help people write books. It’s a very intimidating process for a lot of people, and you can really streamline that journey for them.
[00:43:36.200] – Bo
Yeah. And even if it’s just for writing your first book, I think so many authors, so many people, let us forget about authors, so many people have these ideas, fantastic ideas for books, but they just never get around to it. And it’s not just a time thing. It’s also, I don’t know where to start. I’ve never written a book. Who do I go to? There’s so many questions, and I understand that. And that’s what BookBud is great for, too. Look, use Bookbud. Get your first book out there. Just throw the ideas out there. Let it write it for you. It’s such a simple process. Within three hours, you could be a published author, and now you’ve done it. You’ve paved the way. And now, if you want to write your second book the old-fashioned way, go ahead and do it. But you already have your name out there, and you’ve already been through the process. So the second time is a lot easier.
[00:44:26.220] – Sean
Right, Adam. All right, let’s transition to the rapid to fire round. This is the part of the episode where we get to find out who Bo really is. If you can, try to answer each question in about 15 seconds or less. You ready? Go. All right. So what is your favorite podcast?
[00:44:42.290] – Bo
Favorite podcast is probably NPR. I like to keep up to date.
[00:44:45.270] – Sean
Right on? That’s good. All right. What is a recent book you read and would recommend?
[00:44:49.900] – Bo
The book I’m reading right now is the book on Longevity by Atia, I think his name is. And so far, I’m enjoying it. I would recommend it. Important if people want to stay youthful for a long time.
[00:45:03.390] – Sean
Interesting. You have my attention.
[00:45:05.460] – Bo
I mean, look at me. I’m 80.
[00:45:08.390] – Sean
It’s not true. Okay. I’m buying the book immediately, if that’s the case. Nice. All right. This is a fun one. What is your favorite movie?
[00:45:16.980] – Bo
That’s always a tough question, and I don’t mean to skirt the question, but because it depends what I’m in the mood for. For example, overall, comedy drama, maybe Roxanne by Steve Martin back in 1986. I think. Wonderful movie. I love it. I usually say that that’s my favorite movie all around, but I have so many favorite movies.
[00:45:37.610] – Sean
Steve Martin, classic. I won’t go off on a tangent here. Just work through Only Murders in the Building with him and Martin Short. Martin Short. Yeah, so good.
[00:45:48.210] – Bo
David Gomez. Great team.
[00:45:49.780] – Sean
All right. What is the worst advice you ever received?
[00:45:54.270] – Bo
I think the worst advice is something that a lot of people receive as well, and that’s You could do anything you want to as long as you put your mind to it. No, you can’t. I could never be a professional basketball player. There’s a lot of things I can’t do. We have physical and genetic limitations, so don’t waste your whole life just trying to be persistent. Find out, go with the flow. Find out what you really love doing, what you enjoy doing, and what you’re good at, and pursue that.
[00:46:29.420] – Sean
There you go. All right, flip that equation. What’s the best advice you ever received?
[00:46:33.940] – Bo
No, you can’t do anything you want to do.
[00:46:36.520] – Sean
There you go. Direct. All right. And the last question here, this is a time machine question. If you could go back in time to give your younger self advice, what age would you visit and what would you say?
[00:46:49.670] – Bo
I would go back to some time in the early ’90s, probably late ’80s when I was in high school still, and I I tell myself all about the big tech boom and all of the people like the head of Google and InfoSeq, Lycos, and Steve Jobs, and all those people. I would say, move to California and become friends with these people and go into business with them.
[00:47:19.440] – Sean
That’s great advice, actually. Nice. All right. And where can the audience reach you?
[00:47:24.830] – Bo
I have two different websites. One is for my personal books that I’ve written, and these are the books I’ve written the old-fashioned the way manually. You go to bobenet. Com. And the other website is my business website, where you could go to all the websites that I discussed. They’re all linked at archiboy. Com. Nice.
[00:47:42.950] – Sean
All right, Bo. Thank you so much for your time. This is great.
[00:47:45.980] – Bo
Yeah, it’s been great to meet you. Take care.
[00:47:48.050] – Sean
We’ll see you. Bye-bye. Hey, I’d like to say thanks for checking out this podcast. I know there’s a lot of other podcasts you could be listening to, so thanks for spending some time with me. And if you have a moment, could you please head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a five-star review? The more reviews we get, the higher this podcast will rank. All right, stay tuned for the next episode.
[00:48:08.120] – Bo
We’ll see you.