What can we learn about business from freelance journalism? How can we better shape our message? We have a great conversation with Jordan Golson, a transportation reporter for Inverse. Jordan covers cars, trains, planes, future cities, and a whole boatload of ancillary topic areas (including boats) — basically, if it moves and doesn’t go to space, he's on it. He is especially interested in the intersection of transportation and technology, so he goes deep into electric cars, autonomous vehicle tech, sensors, safety, connectivity, and similar topics.
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Russ Harlow – Reliable Remediation – Disaster Restoration
Russ Harlow 00:00
This episode is brought to you by Reliable Remediation where we honor the trust our clients place with us to restore their property from disasters like mold contamination, and water and fire damage. We do it by performing our service with expert care and precision. We seek to establish our client’s confidence and rebuilding comfort and ensuring the health of their environment. Our team takes pride in providing a level of service that's unparalleled in the industry throughout the entire process. Find us at reliableremediation.com
Dana Dowdell 00:37
Russ Harlow 00:38
Dana, what's happening?
Dana Dowdell 00:39
How are you?
Russ Harlow 00:40
I'm doing very well getting ready for 2023 and rockin
Dana Dowdell 00:44
Love it. We are talking with a dear friend of mine, a new friend but a dear friend. And we're going to talk about freelancing and being a journalist and what it's like truly like to be an entrepreneur that grinds and hustles. So, we're joined by Jordan Golson. He is a freelance journalist, and YouTuber, he has a YouTube channel called Prindle, which we'll get into and we're gonna hear all about his journey. So welcome, Jordan. Hey, how's it going? How are you?
Jordan Golson 01:14
I'm good. You know, enjoying the freelance life, which is not at all stressful and challenging. So.
Dana Dowdell 01:23
So, when you and I first met, I thought, how you I thought you were so frickin cool. I thought what you do is so cool. And we met in Nashville, and what you were doing when you were in Nashville, so really, so cool. So, tell us a little bit about your journey from being a journalist to being a freelancer to starting a YouTube channel.
Jordan Golson 01:48
So, it's an interesting journey, as I think most freelancers are, and I it started, I completely fell backwards into it. If we go back to the beginning, and I have to try and sort of make this short, it has been a career built on disaster. And what I mean by that is back in 2004, there was the Boxing Day tsunami in Southeast Asia that killed 175,000 people. And I had a blog that no one read. And this was before YouTube, it was about two months before YouTube was founded. And people were coming back from there with some home video that they had shot, because digital video was just starting out. And they got posted on internet forums and things like that. And I gathered a few of them and put them on my terrible little political blog and sent a note to the Drudge Report, which at the time certainly was by far one of the biggest sites, news sites in the world, and said, hey, I got these videos. And 20 minutes later, he linked them, which was bonkers. And in a week, I got 7 million readers written up in the Wall Street Journal, a whole bunch of stuff. So that was my sort of my first taste of like, oh, I could write things and people can read them. Rather I write things and they just ignore them. And so, from there, I started a hurricane blog with a friend of mine, because that's what you did in the mid-2000s, as you blogged about things. And that built up to a gig at a website called Valleywag, which was Gawker's Silicon Valley gossip blog. And we would write about different personalities and things. And that was my first introduction to real. No about journalism, but real writing professional writing. And I was actually there. You know, this is getting very insider, but Gawker was brought down because of a post that someone wrote about Peter Thiel, who was the investor in Facebook and many other things. That was what that lawsuit was about. So, I was there for that. And luckily, I didn't get deposed or anything. So, one of my first lessons that I learned in journalism, I thought was a really good one. I got fired from that job. Because partially because of a post that I wrote publicly and put on the site. That said, I think it was titled its April 1, I don't know what my salary is. Because our pay rate was changing on April 1, and they kept saying, we’re gonna tell you what the new rate is, we're gonna tell you what the new rate is, we're gonna tell you what the new rate is, and then they didn't. And then at midnight, on April 1 at 12:01am, I published this post and put it on the site scorching my boss's, because that's what you did at Gawker is you know, we stabbed everybody in the back.
Dana Dowdell 04:53
That's, that's from an HR perspective. That's a reckless move, but
Jordan Golson 04:58
it was good. It was good time. Oh, um, and so I ended up getting let go. And the lesson I learned is if you're going to get fired, do it publicly. Because if you do it publicly, then people know you're available. And I had the job, and I had another job the next day. And they basically said, don't do that here. And that everything's fine. Because the rest of the stuff you write is great. So, there's a lesson, if you're gonna do it in spectacular fashion.
Dana Dowdell 05:32
Did you want like, when you first started, kind of existing, I guess, in a work capacity, did you think of like, did you want to be a journalist?
Jordan Golson 05:43
No, I didn't know what I wanted. I was in my 20s, I had no clue. It was like, what do you want to do? I don't know, I'll go work at Apple retail for a while. And, you know, the, the, what I do now, and when I think back to what I did, so I worked at Apple Retail from 2003 to 2004. So that was before the iPhone, that was before the iPad. The iPod had been out for two years at that point. And so, it was still very new. But at the end of the day, what I did is I talked to people about features and benefits. So, I explained stuff to people, if this is how this product would be useful to you. So, if you have this iPod, it'll let you have 1000 songs in your pocket or whatever, stuff like that. And I would, you know, talk to people and explain things and whatever. And that gave me a lot of skills and the way they taught us how to sell which was not to sell at all, it was just to show value, and then let people come to the product plays a lot into now, however, in about cars, where I really don't talk about things like horsepower and stuff like that, you try and talk about the benefits to you of like, hey, this has plenty of power for you to merge onto the highway, or it doesn't, because that's what most people care about. You know, and if you want to go zero to six times, you can go and that's what that, but I don't care about. So it's interesting to sort of follow that trajectory of having these skills, building on them having these other skills building upon them, which I think for someone who's self-employed, or freelance, and you're sort of building your own thing, you have to build a very diverse skill set to get there if able to talk to people, but you have to be able to talk to people to pitch and to build new business, and then to execute that business. And then to get referrals. And then on and on and on. And so, all it is my entire job really is networking, making friends getting people to like you. So, they will give you jobs give you referrals to jobs, which is way more important and online. So, you know, talking to people making friends.
Russ Harlow 07:48
You know, I find, if I remember correctly back in the day, just before Twitter and everything else, when you're talking back in 2004. And when you are those little zingers you'd give to people, I think we used to call it flaming like the like those, I think that's what the term was, you know, because there was pre trolls, there were still trolls, but we didn't call them trolls yet.
Jordan Golson 08:07
There were more eloquent trolls.
Russ Harlow 08:10
And now we've kind of come full circle, right, your blogging was the thing you did, and now we have things have changed within, you know, within the media, and we see a lot of subscription on like substack and where people are putting their product out there and people are subscribing. So, I'm curious, you know, how that experience in you know, 15 years ago is now, you know, been a building block for you moving forward with the way things are going now.
Jordan Golson 08:36
Yeah, you know, I think there's the old quote from Marshall McLuhan was the medium is the message, and it's hard to tell what the medium is, is it the internet? Or is it Twitter? Or is it short form writing? You know, it was like, you know, thinking about blogging, it's exactly what it is, is like, Oh, I've created an email a created a newsletter for you to come to and back in the day, it might have been like an RSS reader is what delivered you that content. And now it's your email box is going to deliver you your content, which is a whole different discussion about how, as we've watched all the technology change, and new companies come and go, email has been the constant, that's the one constant. And so, I have a sub stack now, which is very much reminded of, of that sort of Blog World. And that was, you know, the original freelance writing and talking about how advertising works and all this stuff, which then led into podcasts where we are now which is really just a reinvention of the blog, just not in written form of doing like an interview. And you know, it's on demand radio. So, you go you go back even further, because all blog is like a kid in the 80s it would have been called a zine. You know, you print out the thing and you mail it out to the 100 people that sent you $5. And that's it. And then before that, you know, the printing press, like, it's the same stuff over and over again. And all it is, is instead of mailing it to someone or handing it out on a street corner, now it's on the internet. So that that part's kind of wild, and sort of the way the technologies have changed and things, which, you know, is an interesting part of the story to finish, I'll try and make it brief or to finish the arc of the story here. I went from lots of different publications that if you were reading about tech from like, 2008 2011, you would have heard of, and none of them exist anymore. Which is interesting, because at the time, some of them were very prestigious. And now they're gone. And so, you know, went from Site, site to site wrote a lot about tech startups. So, this is when Twitter just started, Facebook was just getting big. You know, LinkedIn was their Myspace was dying, it was this whole crazy time of like, web 2.0, is what it was called. And I had a friend of mine drew Curtis, ones, a website called fark.com. That was sort of one of the first social networks starting in 1999. He used to say, web 3.0 is going to be good editing. And I think that has sort of proven out a little bit 10 years later. But so, I went from reading about tech to writing about Apple. And to now writing about cars, which was an interesting another disaster, I got referred by a friend of mine to wired who wanted someone to write about Formula One. So, I went there, and it was a, you know, one, one piece a week kind of thing, just a really small contract. And the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Playing disappeared. And they didn't have anyone free to write about it that day. And so, they just said, oh, you write about cars. Why don't you take a swing at this because planes that's like racecar to Sure, why not. And so, I wrote this story about it. And they were like, oh, we knew you could write, but we didn't realize you could write. And then they gave me a longer contract. And they're like, Okay, here government with cars, and trains, and planes and boats, and anything that moves stuff. And so, thanks to tsunami and the plane disappearing, I was able to build a career writing about cars
Dana Dowdell 12:21
well, it's interesting, because like Russ, and I use blogging and content as like lead generation. But for you, it is that is your business. And so, it's a very different the purpose, I guess, is very, very different. So, from a day to day, well, it's scary, right?
Jordan Golson 12:52
Well, it's because you, you could get huge success off 100 people reading you if it's the right 100 people. Right, because if you can get, you know, if you can get 100 people and five of them become new clients, you're like, oh my god, it's the best week ever. Because you get a lot off that I get paid, basically at the end of the day by advertisers. And they want to reach a lot of eyeballs. And so, if 100 people read something in mind, that is a abject failure, just because of the way the industry works, which is part of why substack and the other things like it, though, substack is the only one standing now because everything else is rapidly getting killed. Big because if you're writing something for 100 people, and they're each paying you say $200 a year, because you're a very niche publication, but you're valuable to them. That's, you know, to their to $20,000, which is not bad for a little side hustle. And then each person you sign up can get a little better and to get a little better. And so, moving away from advertising, I think has been good for a lot of people. And that is something we can dive into. Because I'm trying to figure out how to do that and what value add I can give. But the advertising side versus the lead generation is really interesting, because you're writing content to say here's value that I can provide, here's my analysis, here's my thoughts. And if you give me money, I will give you more of that just for you. And mine is more informative, which is great, but it's hard to, you know, just journalism in general is going through some really tough times. And that's been true for 20 years now, which has been my whole career. So oops,
Russ Harlow 14:48
you know, it's interesting because when you talk about going back and looking at everything, you know, back to the printing press and everything else. When we look at modern media, radio, television, everything it's has all been mostly created and advanced in order just to advertise, you know, they did serials on radio made shows, soap operas, all the all these things were not to put out good entertainment. The goal was to sell stuff. That was always the reason it was in existence.
Jordan Golson 15:19
Yeah, and that soap operas were literally to sell soap. I think people don't realize, you know, back in the day, it was sponsored by soap companies. That's why they were called soap operas.
Russ Harlow 15:29
And so, it's wise as a consumer. And especially when I look at, you know, news media in particular, I'd like the change that happens, where we're starting to separate ad dollars from the news, because I want to read the truth, as opposed to, you know, a corporation's opinion. And I would gladly happening, though, you know, I, in my circle in my circle, you know, there are some podcasts and news podcasts and like, substack, these give us an at least an opportunity to look for some more objective truth.
Jordan Golson 16:11
Yeah, you're, it's you're going more direct. Which, which I think is good. And you can, there's two sides to that, I think one is that you can find people to be like, oh, this is an honest person. This is someone who does that I use as a as a good example, Glenn Greenwald, who has a very popular substack. He's one of the fellows that Ed Snowden went to when he wanted to blow the whistle on the whole NSA spying scandal. Glenn is a very leftist guy, he lives in Brazil, and his husband is a member of the, I believe the Socialist Party, their elected official, very left-wing guy, like, you know, corporations are bad, all this stuff. And he is now hated by the left, because he felt that the whole Russia collusion thing was a bunch of bunk pushed by the CIA and the NSA and whatever. And so, he's like, my positions haven't changed. But just my view on this one issue hasn't. So, he's fallen out of favor. If he worked at a major publication, he probably did. I don't know that the Guardian is going to be giving him any gigs anytime soon. But because he has substack, and he charges $50 A year or whatever, he can sign up. I don't know how many people he has. But you know, 10, or 50,000 people or whatever, following him. He can go direct, which is really what you couldn't do before, because you'd have the zine or whatever back in the 80s, or the self-printed thing or an email newsletter, or really the email newsletter, that's what sort of blew everything up, is you could scale. Because if you had a magazine that you were printing on your laser printer in the 80s, to go from 10 to 100 people that was cool to go from 100 to 1000, that was a lot of work. And you couldn't scale, and you couldn't get to 10,000. And if the reason newspaper companies own printing presses, because how do you reach a million people a day? Well, that's a nightmare. Now, you can have an email, newsletter or website and you can do that instantly. And you know that the technology has allowed individuals to scale in a way that was never possible before. And so, you can go to people and be like, hey, I really liked what this Glenn guy is saying, it seems like he doesn't care. Which side the truth is on, he's just going for it. Whereas if you go watch MSNBC, it's all one sided. And if you go watch Fox News, it's all one sided. And which is why I sort of laughed when you're talking about you know, the ability to sort of go direct and choose your news is like, on one hand. Yes, there are more news sources than ever before. But on the other people continually want news that confirms their viewpoint of the world, and confirms that they are right, which is a bummer. But it is what it is. And I don't want this to turn into a podcast on the media, because we could just go all day, I'm sure. I'm sure we could but the ability for journalists like myself, and this sort of ties into the where I am today, to use these technologies in a way that I'm not, oh, I was writing for Gawker, and I got fired and now I have to find another gig. freelance writing has always been there. Whereas basically, for people who don't know, it was I might write an article for Motor Trend and then write another one for wired and then write another one for some other publication, you know, all in the same week. And so, you know, each one pays me some amount of money and then and then we go from there. And so now I can create my own YouTube channel or create my own substack newsletter and build that connection to the audience directly. Which that's the part that's never really been there.
Russ Harlow 20:15
Yeah, that's cool. You know, I think about it. When I look at Glenn Greenwald, Mattei EBV. Some of these guys are big names on sub stack, and their politics don't align with mine, I still love reading their stuff. Because I feel like it's at least honest. And you know what I mean, and I can objectively take what I want from it, or I can challenge it. Or I can just say, you know, what, I don't have to agree with you politically, or your politics to understand and appreciate the information that's being put there. So how do we build that? How does this? How do we take this outside of journalism and say, how do we build this audience, for our brand for our service for our product? You know, how we're like, how are you doing it personally? You know, about Tell me about your YouTube and how you build that audience and all these things that you do, because I think that's important. I think that's where business is going in the future, that we need to kind of build that following and build that brand.
Jordan Golson 21:08
Yeah, I think I think there's two parts to that. Question. Number one is, who is your audience? And where are they? And then the other is, how do you reach them? Because so my audience really writing about cars, cars are very general purpose, everybody needs to buy one. And so, I'll have people who read my stuff. And they'll say, I don't care about cars, but I still read it because you make it interesting. And that's, that's my goal is I want it to be like the thing. It's the right length. So, you can sit on the throne in the morning and read it. And it's not too long, but not too short. And it's great. You know, that's sort of that's sort of I go for, but that it's interesting to everybody so that when it shows up in your email, you're like, Okay, I'll read it, what's the car this week. And the, it's hard to find things that way. Because it's not like a news story, where you're going to share with all your friends like, oh, my God, you got to read this. So that part's a little challenging. But YouTube currently, is the best way for an individual, as a creator, to reach a bigger audience. Because if you create good stuff, all YouTube cares about is keeping you on YouTube to watch more videos so that you'll watch more ads. And so, what the algorithm does currently is, if people watch and click on your video, it will show it to more people. And so, the acquisition of audience is enormous. It used to be like that on Instagram. And now it's not. If you have an existing audience on Instagram, that doesn't grow unless you do other stuff, you can't just create content, and have it grown. Facebook used to be that way. That's how BuzzFeed was built, was just they would create stuff and Facebook would Firehose them readers. When Facebook turned that spigot off BuzzFeed is screwed. And then Okay, so that's the danger of putting everything in one basket and saying, oh, you know what, when your interests no longer align with whatever company is fire hosing you, your audience. That's a dangerous place to be. Which is part of what makes YouTube so interesting. The other thing YouTube does, is I get 55% of all ad revenue from ads shown on my channel, they take 45%, I get 55%. And out of that 45%, they are paying for the platform, they are paying for their back-end costs, the cloud, the services, all that stuff. And I get 55%, which is the friendliest ad split that you can get on any platform, by a long way. And I have heard that YouTube is kind of kicking themselves, because when they first started that split, they weren't sure if it was going to work or not. And they chose 5545. And they're like, we really wish it was the other way around. Which was it was it was 55 for the company and 45 for the Creator, but it's not but that's why right now, all of the best innovative stuff is on YouTube. And the reason YouTube is as big as it is because it's like why would I go, you know, to some other platform, what other platform is there, you can just go on YouTube, you can reach everybody, you know, 2 billion people a month on YouTube. And so that's why I've been there because the audience is there, which is step one. And number two, there is a way for the audience to come to me that I can acquire that audience and grow it. And so that's the beauty of YouTube and that is also the beauty of TikTok that is the other platform right now that you can create content and people will just come to you because they have the same interest as YouTube. They want you to stay on the app and keep swiping, keep swiping. So, if you have stuff that has retention and is sticky, they will firehose, you, viewers. There's no other platform where you can create something in 30 seconds and have 5 million people see it? There's no way, you know, you know, I don't even know if any single piece of writing I've ever done has been read by 5 million people. 2 million, 5 million, that's a lot. One day jarred one day, you gotta be the right, that's gonna be the right 5 million people. But so, you know, and so that's the thing is, is figuring out who do you want to reach? And where are they? And then how do you get their attention. And so that might be LinkedIn, that might be a billboard, on the highway, whatever. Because at the end of the day, and this is something we talked about in the lead up to this podcast is, as a freelancer, or as a journalist, or whatever, create creator, I think is probably my favorite term right now. We're a small business, and you've got to, you know, get clients and you've got to find that audience and find a product and refine it and figure out what platform Do you want to use, and what's going to be the most beneficial way to spend your time and just on and on and on. And it's always something. And you know, what my short ish term goal is to get to the point where I can hire a producer to handle all of the day-to-day crap, so I can just create stuff. Someday, we'll get there.
Dana Dowdell 26:22
I like what you're saying that when you when you make your content on YouTube, it's for everybody. It's not just for car aficionados. It's not just like, I went to you when I was car shopping, because you've talked about it in layman's terms, not, you know, not the technical terms. And so I think for people who are starting a business or wanting to start being a creator, and putting content out there, you kind of I've gotten in this way, where it's like the analysis, paralysis, analysis, paralysis of no one will watch it or no one will, you know, this won't reach anyone. And then I think about myself and how I used to watch a YouTube channel of a guy who bought a lobster from the grocery store named Leon and created like, 20 minute videos about life with Leon and what he ate that day and what he did in his tank, and that was the content that I consumed. So is there any, do you have any thoughts around that idea of like, no one will watch this, or no one will consume this, or this isn't, you know, this isn't going to reach people, or no one will like it.
Jordan Golson 27:25
Yeah, you know, I think there's, there's two parts of that. And there's a lot of imposter syndrome stuff there. Which this, the YouTube and TikTok is either the cure for it, or it's just, it just perpetuates because they show you how many people watch. And so, if you're worried, oh, no one's gonna watch my stuff. No one's gonna watch my stuff. And then 11 people watch it? Well, that's pretty crushing. And so that the balance is, do you actually have something to say? And you just feel like nobody's gonna watch it, but actually they are. Which, as much as it pains me to say it is generally where I am, I think no one's gonna watch it, and then they do. And then maybe you really just aren't very good. Or you don't have your ID, you don't have your idea quite nailed down yet. And so, you put stuff up, and it doesn't work. And, you know, that's, that's really hard. And the best advice, which I never take, is just create it, just put it up. And if 10 people watch it, 10 people watch it, but at least you learn something in the process. Because the interesting thing, these days, this used to not be true. But today, especially on YouTube, and TikTok. No video cares what happened with your prior video. Everyone is examined individually. So, if the one you just made totally bombed, because it was crap, the next one you make is really good. That one can take off. And it has nothing to do with the one that went up before. So, if you have three ideas, make three videos, put them all up and see what happens. And I've had times like I remember, last year, this was really vividly, I went and saw a preview of two trucks. And it was one was the super luxury focus truck, and one was the off-road truck. And I said, okay, so videos on TikTok, they totally generally try and keep you under a minute. And so, I said, Okay, I can make one video about each truck. And then I said, Wait, wait, let's break it out even more, I'll do four videos total to two about each truck. Because that gives you two bites at the apple rather than one to split it up. And I'll say I'll talk about this feature. And then I'll talk about this feature rather than one video talking about both because if you do one video about both and it flops, you're screwed. Otherwise, you get you get two shots. And so, I put up two videos, the two that I thought were going to take off didn't and the two that I didn't think were going to take off did and so the ones that flopped, I think got a hit 102 100,000 views, the ones that did well got two and 5 million views. So, you don't know. Occasionally there'll be something I'll be like, I know this is gonna hit, because it just has the right formula. And it's like, okay, this, this is going to do well. But a lot of the time you don't, and you don't know what's going to resonate with people. And you can sort of get better at it. But still, I have more hits or more misses than hits, which is fine. It is what it is, especially on tick tock on YouTube, it's much more because the YouTube specifically car reviews, it's much more driven by the car. Do people care about this car? Do they not care about this car? Are they searching for it or not? And so, there's lots of ways into it there. Which we could talk for hours about the intricacies of YouTube. But you know, it's for a creator, it's just try stuff, figure out, again, who your audience is? And what do you have to say, and what's the best way to say it, too. And so, if you're a HR professional looking for new clients, you know, perhaps saying the success stories here, I did this for this other person that has a problem, and you have that problem too. And I can help you or be more selflessly not to do specifically generation, but just to be a, I despise this word of thought leader. But there's something to that, if you actually have something to say, and you have to not be saying the same thing as everybody else. When I created my YouTube review channel, there are a lot of very good car YouTubers, I know a lot of them, they are extremely good. And I don't want to be like that. I don't want to copy another YouTuber because what what value am I bringing? Then I want to come in and take it from a different angle. And say, my goal with the channel is basically to say, if Dana texted me and said, well, what car are you driving this week? What do you think, is to do the video? Like I was answering that question. And so, it's like, hey, you're here in the car with me, here's what I think this button sucks. I really like how this works, whatever. And just make it very conversational. Whereas there are other YouTubers who are all like, Okay, let's go through what the features are of this option package for $2,400. You get this, this, this and this, and it's a buying guide. And so, if you go watch that video, and you want to buy that car, you will be extremely well informed for that. But if you don't want to buy that car, it's going to be mind numbingly boring, because he's going into the fuel efficiency numbers of the three engine options. And it's like, I do not care. So, who's your audience? Where are they? How did you get to them? And then what do you actually have to say, which is probably the thing we've talked the least about. But as the most important,
Dana Dowdell 32:45
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Jordan Golson 33:44
I, you know, I get, as you can imagine, the car journalism world is full of old people who do not understand the tics and the talks and the use and the tubes. And people will come to me and I'm like, oh, my God, you're doing great on tick tock. What's, you know, how do you do, and I want to do it too. And I'll say, do you use tick tock? Maybe like, no, no, I don't have that. Be like, Okay, start there. Because and what I'll say is, whatever platform you're on, whether it's a flyer you're handing out in Times Square, or a book on the printing press, or a soap opera, YouTube, tick tock, Instagram, whatever. You're telling a story. And you're telling a story customized to the platform, to the delivery mechanism of how you are telling that story. So, if you're telling a story in a two-hour documentary in a movie theater, you're going to open in a very different way than if you have 15 seconds on tick tock. As you get the movie today. I want beautiful views from a helicopter of a sweeping VISTA. And then we're going to dive in and show the dam that's killing the villagers because there's no more fish. If you want to tell that same story on tick tock, you got to show flopping dead fish on the ground in the first second, because that's how much time you have to tell that story. You have to catch people in one second on tick tock, and you're done on YouTube, it's closer to 30 seconds, so you have to take them. This is why if you watch YouTube videos now, you'll get 30 seconds of whatever the most interesting thing that was said in that video up in the front, and then it'll be Oh, but we're gonna go back Mr. Beast is really good about this, it'll he'll show you like the tease, and the most exciting thing of like the train smashing into the wall, or whatever his latest one is that he says, But wait, let's go back. And the reason he does that is because you want to catch the people in that first 30 seconds and say, this video is worth watching. And so, on tick tock, you have one second, and then there you have a little longer, and then on, you know, The New Yorker, you're gonna write the story very differently than you would in a tweet. Right. And so, you have to customize the story that you're telling to the medium that you're telling it all. So, a Facebook post is going to be different than Instagram is gonna be different than LinkedIn is going to be different than substack. But you can tell the same story in every place, but you have to know the platform, and to know your story, and then to be smart enough to combine those in a way that works for your audience. And it sounds so simple, but it is not. But the key is, you know, know what you're trying to say and where you're trying to say it. But to
Russ Harlow 36:30
get started, it doesn't have to be complicated. You're right, there are a lot of nuances like that first 30 seconds, it's also the preview of that YouTube video. So, if somebody hovers over it, that's what they're going to see. So, all those little nuances you can get better at, but I think you could start with creating content, and just putting it out on all channels. Yeah, you know, I have a YouTube channel and trying to build that helps us with the algorithm, I don't get hung, you know, I don't get hundreds of views. Never mind 1000s. So, but I use similar videos on I take them, and I repurpose them on Tiktok. I've gotten people all over the country who have called me I'm a regional service business. But people see me as a subject matter expert, and now have called me and reached out for me from Chicago, Oklahoma, North Carolina, hey, I got mold, and I don't know what to do with it. I still help because I want to continue to build that subject matter expertise, and be seen as that
Jordan Golson 37:29
you try to get someone in every state that you can refer to for 10%. No problem. Yeah, I got a guy you can call no problem,
Russ Harlow 37:36
I could build that. But so, I just want to encourage our listeners, like create video, you can use that same video on Facebook, you can use it on Instagram. If it's professional enough, you can use it on LinkedIn. So, you don't have to be creating five, six different pieces of content. You can take a one-to-three-minute video and still put it in all those places.
Jordan Golson 37:56
Yeah, the key is you at the end of the day, you have to have something to say. And it doesn't have to be polished. It doesn't have to be amazing. I just saw a tick tock and I can't remember the guy’s name. He's like the most successful realtor in Manhattan. very polished guy. I think he was on one of the Bravo shows. But he was talking about selling a $10 million apartment. And he said I could spend $50,000 Because commissions huge on a $10 million. Manhattan condo, right? He's like I could spend $50,000, doing professional video photos, drone shots of the building all this stuff. And as soon as people see it on tick tock or whatever they're gonna be like, they're trying to sell me something and swipe because it looks too good. And so now he has this Realtors walk around a $10 million apartment with their iPhone. Hey, here's what the kitchen of a $10 million Manhattan apartment looks like. And he's like, we sell those buildings. off of those videos, I sell $10 million apartments on Tik Tok. And you wouldn't think that would happen. But you need the one person to see it. who's like, Oh, that's cool. And so, it's not about like, working so hard and the quality and having it be all polished. And I know like before this I was asking a million questions about because my audio sound okay, and whatever. And it's like, your audio, my audio could be the best in the world. But if I'm super boring, that doesn't matter. Though I will say on YouTube audio is the most important thing. So, spend your money on good microphones, don't worry about it. It's
Dana Dowdell 39:22
my favorite thing to do is for I will visit sites or YouTube channels or Instagrams of people who I view as successful. And I like to scroll as far back as I possibly can to see what their first video was like or like what their first post was like, because it like brings it to reality that not everyone starts out perfect every single time.
Jordan Golson 39:47
Yeah. And what's interesting is to see are they the same person? Right? And sometimes it's like, oh, yeah, same guy. And then now it's just all polished. Yeah, and others. It's like, oh, you've refined this
Dana Dowdell 40:00
Um, we're gonna get into the lightning round in just a minute. But I wanted to ask one last question about, you know, you mentioned that your entire success in this industry is around networking and making those connections, which will then bring you to the next step. And so, for someone who is wanting to be a content creator, where do you start in terms of networking?
Jordan Golson 40:23
The two parts I'd say is, one is start creating stuff. And if you have something to say, you can go from there. And that will just naturally start to build. You know, the, the part of the thing is figuring out, you know why I said it was so important to figure out how to connect to that audience and why YouTube and Tiktok are so strong right now, is because you can be a guy with a camera in your living room and talk into the camera and then have it blow up from there. You don't need anything else. Because the platform if you have something interesting to say, the platform will deliver those people to you. And you can go from there, the number of people who have started, you know, MKBHD Marquez Brownlee is a tech YouTuber. We say he's been doing it for a very long time. And it's because he started when he was 14, with a camera in his bedroom. And he would do tech reviews of whatever smartphone his parents had given him for Christmas. And he was just a very compelling guy, you can go back and watch his original videos, and that's it's him in his bedroom, the lighting is terrible, the whole thing. But he's a really interesting guy. And that was enough. And then it would grow from there. You don't need to have anything, but the hardest part is having something to say. And I think people will look at Oh, if I buy a $2,000 camera and a fancy lighting, setup, and pay someone to build, you know, a bookshelf behind me and fill it with the right books, which is a real thing that happened during COVID Is there were companies that oh, yeah, we'll come and we'll build your backdrop for your TV hits with the right books. And then people think that's what matters. And it's not, it's having something to say. And something that creates value for people, whether it's entertaining, or whether it's funny, or whether it's whatever. And so, from that, you will get attention and people and whatever. And then you do the networking from that. So, when you get that email that says, hey, let's work together, you respond to it. And even if you don't have anything to work on right now, you know, you still respond to it. And I you know, lots of I know business folks have talked about like, always take the phone call. You know, I have a friend of mine, who's whose publishes his phone number on his website. And it's like, Dude, that's the most terrifying thing in the world. And he's like, Yeah, but when CNN needs someone in 20 minutes to get on air and talk about X, and they can't find anybody they can fuck they can call, and I'll answer. I remember a thing from Kevin O'Leary, talking about how he carries two phones. And one has like 10 people have the phone number because it's for his family. And then the other 110 1000 people at all those companies have it, because he wants them to be able to call him if they need something, or they have a problem. And say like, oh, hey, I've got this thing going on. And he's like, I want to be accessible. And that's to his company. But also, you want to be accessible. So put your email address everywhere. Put your phone number everywhere, like, don't be an obstacle to people getting in touch with you. If a brand wants to come and sponsor you, they could come and sponsor a lot of different people. If you make them hunt for five minutes to find your email address. Why would the Forget it gonna be like this guy's tough to work with. Just put your email address everywhere, make it super easy. And I do that, and I still get people to be like, I can't find your email address. And I'm like, it's literally in my profile at the top of every post, what? What's the deal? So, you know, if the networking is like, just create the value, because no one wants to network with you if you're not interesting and doing stuff and creating value for people. Because let me help ya, it's not gonna be let me help you create value. Now. That's not it.
Dana Dowdell 44:13
And make yourself available for those opportunities.
Jordan Golson 44:16
Yeah, answer the phone, answer the email, whatever. You know and go from there. I've gotten more work from just random stuff landing in my in my email box than anything else. You know, referrals are number two, just people finding me and being like, oh, I like what that you know, and go on from there.
Dana Dowdell 44:33
Yeah. So, Jordan, we do a lightning round with every guest. So, we'll run you through a couple of questions that we ask of everyone that comes on the podcast. So, the first question is, what is one thing that you wish you had known before starting a business as a freelancer?
Jordan Golson 44:50
How much of a calamity journalism is which is a very personal and perhaps not applicable question to most people. You know, newspapers got killed off by Craigslist. And then the people who ran those newspapers into the ground are now running other publications into the ground and not having any foresight. And it's just terrible. So, I would not have tried to work for big companies all along, because that doesn't work. I would have started building stuff for myself first. And that is one thing we didn't touch on the reason I started the YouTube. The reason I started doing so much on tick tock is because in many ways, the freelance industry is Oliver Twist. And please, sir, may I have some more? And you're begging, you know, for assignments, and jobs and money? And please, can I write something for you? How would I write this thing, you don't want that thing? Hold on, here's all my other ideas, please, please, please gonna have money. And if you do it for yourself, yeah, you get some hits and misses. But when you get the hit, it's all for you. And whether I write something for a publication, and it gets 20,000 readers, or 2 million readers, I get paid the same. Whereas on YouTube, my income goes up 100 acts. And so that's kind of nice to you know, capture the success. And so, it would, I think, be start earlier, start on YouTube earlier, start on all these platforms earlier. And not think, oh, I don't have anything to say I don't whatever, because like you said, you go back and see the early posts, and everybody's just crap.
Russ Harlow 46:32
I'm curious if that goes right into the next thing about what's the best way to what's your favorite way of marketing you and your business?
Jordan Golson 46:42
Now, so from me, that's sort of what I've been talking about the whole time is where, who is going to deliver me the audience. You know, you as a mold remediation business and be like, well, who's my audience, okay, it's people who have had a disaster, blah, blah, blah, like, one great way is probably networking with firefighters. Because, you know or building inspectors, things like that, you know, maybe billboards or local radio, whatever. But it turns out, maybe having a podcast, and tick tock and whatever, there's the way to go, because Oh, yeah, you know, you think of why would advertise on YouTube or whatever, or have a channel, but people are gonna find you, especially if you put, you know, Southern California is number one, blah, blah, blah, and they're even if you're getting most people around, when people Google Southern California, whatever your industry is, you're going to come up, and then be like, Oh, I saw that guy on YouTube, I'm gonna hire him. Or you'll get, you know, we talked about networking and referrals, you know, someone else will be like, oh, I know this guy on YouTube, that's in my industry, go talk to him, because you're around where he is. And, and so, you know, it's marketing. I think a lot of people think marketing, they think it just spending ad money. And you can do that, like search ads are one of the most revolutionary things. Facebook ads are super revolutionary, because you can hyper target by zip code, or even more than that. And that's all great. But marketing is also throwing stuff up on Tik Tok, because there's a wild number of people that like seeing gross stuff get cleaned. Like I got a guy that comes up in my Tiktok. And it's him power washing filthy rugs from like, gas stations, or car mechanics that are like covered in oil. And it's just a, you know, slow mo thing of him walking through how the cleaning process. And so, if like you're doing mold remediation, or something, like show the worst stuff before and after. And if you just throw that stuff up on the Enter people gonna be like, Oh, my God, it's so gross. But they're gonna think it's neat. And then when they need it for themselves, it'll be there. You know? And so, it's like, what's your story? How do you want to tell it? And it doesn't have to be the way that everybody else is doing it? And so it's the value of the story, how do you want to tell it on and on and on, and that's a really hard thing to do, which is why I'm not worried about chat GPT coming in replacing me when Chad GPT when the AI can write the prompt that delivers the amazing thing, then I'll be worried. They're not there yet. Because there's still some amount of like, okay, how do I think about this and be creative and come at it with a way no one's ever done before? Because the AI by definition is something that someone's done before because that takes all that processing and input. Right? And so, you know, if you ask it, what's the best way to market my HR consulting business, it's gonna give you a bunch of things that people have done before, and it might work. But if you want to think of the thing that nobody's ever done before, to do that,
Dana Dowdell 49:50
it's in your brain. Right? What's one business platform that's changed your life?
Jordan Golson 49:56
Um, ironically, it's dead, but I would say AOL Instant Messenger. And because back from the oh four through 2010 days, that's where everything got done. Before Twitter, DMS before Instagram, DMS, you'd get someone's im, and you'd be instantly on their screen, and you can talk to them. That's where slack came from directly. We used to have a chat rooms, we used to have all this stuff, because it was instant communication. And you could ask someone a question, whatever. Now it's probably just iMessage. Because it's that networking thing. And, you know, if you have a quick question, or you want to get something done, you can do email. But that doesn't feel right. It's, I want to send you a quick note and ask you a question. Hey, can you come on my podcast? Hey, are you going to be in town for lunch? Are you going to whatever? You know, having those quick chat, I think has been the biggest thing for me, which is probably not an answer that you've had before?
Russ Harlow 51:06
No, definitely not. But it's a good one. I like it.
Jordan Golson 51:09
You know, you think about where you live on your phone, and who you talk to, and whatever. And so like, if you're, you know, if you have someone come to you, and you're the subject matter expert on whatever, and you're like, hey, I'm in North Carolina, and I need a guy to hold on. I met someone at this conference, they're in my phone somewhere. Let me text him, hey, can I refer to this person to done? I think more gets done there than anywhere else. For me.
Russ Harlow 51:38
How about this? When did you feel like you made it?
Jordan Golson 51:43
I'll let you know. what I'm sure is the predictable answer. Um, there have been a lot of milestones. You know, for like the YouTube thing when I got to 1000 subscribers, because that's when you get monetized and start making money. That was a big one. And then a friend of mine who has a much more successful YouTube channel said that was the hardest 1,001st 1000 are the hardest, and the second 1000. That's the second hardest. And then the third that and I just hit 3000 followers or subscribers, which spoiler alert, subscribers don't matter on YouTube. Because the algorithm just takes your video and launches it if it's any good. You know, so I would say recently, it's something like that. Having been at a conference or whatever, having people come up to you and be like, oh, I love what you did wait, I love your writing. And I'll be like, what, nobody reads my stuff. I used to I used to joke, the only people that look at by lines are other journalists and our parents. Because, you know, most people, they'll read some they don't care who wrote it. And then for someone to be like, oh, I really love your stuff. I you know, I subscribed to you, or I reached out to you or whatever that's, you know, but that's the thing for a creator. is when people you don't know, come up and say, oh, I love your stuff, or I love your stuff I want to work together. That's, that's really something interesting.
Dana Dowdell 53:04
I love it. Last but not least, what's your favorite business book or book that's been influential in your content creation experience.
Jordan Golson 53:18
Most interesting business book, you're gonna have to edit this down, because I'm gonna have to think about it for a second. I think it's probably something like Michael Lewis's The Big Short, which was about the few people who saw the housing crash coming in Oh, seven and oh, eight. Because, you know, they made it into a wonderful movie. And I think the lesson of that is, just because the really smart people seem to have it all figured out. They don't. And the really smart people lost billions and billions and billions of dollars. And the people who are actually looking at it and saying the emperor has no clothes, this doesn't look right, this this, everyone else is missing something is real. And that's a solid lesson of why you don't just follow everyone else follow the herd. The grass may be greener on the other side. But if you're running off a cliff to get there, that doesn't work. And so, I think remembering that, if you look at the most successful people in your industry, they're not the most successful because they're the best and their smartest. A lot of luck has to play into that. And keeping that in perspective, that's probably the best word is perspective. You have to maintain perspective on everything. Just because someone is successful doesn't mean they're smart and doesn't mean you should listen to them. And so, I think that book is a good reminder of that of all these smart people. Oh, we're just you know, getting lucky.
Russ Harlow 55:04
Awesome. Thanks, Jordan. Where are you go? Where can people connect with you and find you if they want more.
Jordan Golson 55:11
So, the best place to find me is Jordan golson.com is sort of a catch all. That's my substack email newsletter, and then there's links to there to everywhere else. But you can also find me pretty much on all the socials as Jay L. Golson, Jay LGOL, s, o, n, and then on YouTube Prindle PRNDL. And you can come watch my car reviews. And if you have any questions about what car to get, feel free to email me. And my email is on all of my platforms. So, shoot me a
Russ Harlow 55:43
note. Fantastic. Well, I want to thank you. We're gonna have all of those links in our show notes. And I want to thank you for stopping by the podcast. I want to thank our listeners for being here. And for sticking with us. This was a great conversation. And I know our listeners or listeners enjoyed it. And I think you might know somebody else who would enjoy it. Like it share with them, too. You can find us on all the platforms at it's just business podcast. Leave us a review, send us an email. It's out there. We know. We know you can send it to us. Let us know how we're doing. It's not personal. It's Just Business.