Episode 59

Growing Your Audience to 75,000+

with Barrett O'Neill

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In this episode, Adam and Carlton are joined by Barrett O’Neill, the owner of Bright Line Media. Barrett talks about what he would do differently about startups, how to grow a large social media following, and what’s coming in the content creation world.

Highlights from the conversation:

  • Barrett’s business success story (6:12)
  • Why you shouldn’t jump without a safety net (10:52)
  • How to make it through the startup process (17:23)
  • About Brightline Media (21:38)
  • What it’s really like to have a large audience (25:35)
  • How to grow your Twitter audience (29:48)
  • Advice for aspiring influencers (33:38)
  • Trends on the horizon (37:19)

 

Links & Resources:

 

Keep up with Barrett:

 

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Transcription

Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Adam Vazquez 0:06
All right, we are back with another episode of Content Is for Closers. Here with you, as always: Adam Vazquez, my-co host Carlton Riffel. Actually, I should say I shouldn’t say “as always.” Was it last week?

Carlton Riffel 0:19
Two weeks, two weeks ago.

Two weeks. All right.

I’ve lost track.

Adam Vazquez 0:22
How was that? How did you feel going rogue? Obviously, in the episode, you claimed to have fired me. I showed up anyway for work. So hopefully, that’s not the case. But yeah, how did it go when I was gone?

Carlton Riffel 0:35
Pretty good. It’s gonna take some practice if I do that again. I’m not great talking. It’s just one of my weaknesses, that when I talk, I just have a lot of filler words and use all sorts of “you knows” and “buts” and “ands.”

Adam Vazquez 0:37
This is a bit that you continually come back to, which I respect. It’s a recurring bit: “Oh, I’m terrible at talking,” but that episode is evidence otherwise. Obviously, Luke did a great job as well. But yeah, I thought you guys did a great job. I enjoyed that episode, it if you haven’t heard it, Luke Cleeland joined the show, and kind of gave very practical tips on photo and content creation. And I think what I really appreciated from it is Luke’s experience all comes from sort of a different sector that he applied to content, he’s just an actual photographer. He has his own wedding photography business but brought a lot of those tips to marketing and content. And similarly, Today’s guest has a very unique skill set across a few different verticals that he has brought to bear when it comes to content marketing as well. What did you think of the conversation with Barrett O’Neill?

Carlton Riffel 1:50
Yeah, it was good because he’s a fellow bootstrapper. he started his business not too long ago. But essentially, he had to build it from nothing, he didn’t go out and seek investment, he just decided one day, he’s going to quit his job and start a storage company. And so he learns a lot of different things. And now he’s applying that to a new media company, that he’s launched and running now. I think with a lot of people that bootstrap it and figure it out the hard way, quote, unquote, it gives you a much better appreciation for some of the subtleties in how you make decisions. So yeah, I think he brings a great perspective and give some really critical advice for people that may be in the same scenario. And now starting with that 20/20 hindsight can help people run their business better.

Adam Vazquez 2:45
Yeah, he’s the super interesting character because he’s got this prototypical, got a blue chip background, he worked at Bain, which is shout out Mitt Romney, like the top of the top when it comes to financing consulting. And he goes from that to starting a storage company for college students, or I guess he had done it sort of intertwined. He goes to doing that full time, which is the opposite of Bain, right? It’s very manual. It’s very just “get it done.” There’s not a ton of strategic thought that has to go into it. It’s Can you provide the space or not? And, and he’s leveraged both of those skill sets into what he’s doing today, which is help consulting and helping other businesses. But all of that aside, I think the most interesting thing for me as a content creator, and as someone who is doing this and trying to help other people do it, he’s built his Twitter following to like, I think he’s got like, 50,000 or more followers, I probably should know that.

Carlton Riffel 3:46
I think he said he’s at 75,000 now.

Adam Vazquez 3:49
75. Okay. And he’s, he said, he started doing that in January. Yeah, that’s incredible. I mean, that is crazy growth over the course of call it eight months.

Carlton Riffel 4:01
And I do think it’s interesting how a lot of people will say, Oh, it’s too late, that trend has already passed. Now, there are all these people, but I think I would have said that, even in November of last year, right? Like, I would have said, Oh, yeah, Twitter is just too hard to grow an audience now, maybe you can still do things, but you can’t, you can’t use the same playbook. And really, he did use a lot of the same playbook. But then he also gives tips for new things that you can do and a new way of looking at some of that.

Adam Vazquez 4:29
Yeah, this is a common argument you and I have, I’ll be like, Hey, let’s do X. I saw it work somewhere. You’re like, Yeah, I think that’s played out. And normally you’re right. And no, I can’t execute.

Carlton Riffel 4:41
I have a strong desire to be original and most of my things and I think that probably feeds in an unhealthy way towards making me not be a trend follower.

Adam Vazquez 4:52
But I would say, for this specific use case, like when he talks about the importance of threads Yeah, to grow. And in my head, I was like, I thought threads died six months ago or nine months like, and, obviously, there’s something past that. So he I LSU said he kind of provides his whole playbook. It’s really interesting episode. And I think I think everyone will enjoy it. If you have anything else. Let’s get into it as Barrett O’Neill.

Intro 5:24
Put that content down. Content. The close is over. What’s your name? Content. That’s my name. You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight. I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name. Content Is for Closers.

Adam Vazquez 5:46
All right, we’re back with another episode here of Content Is for Closers. We’ve got Barrett O’Neill joining us on the show. Barrett, thank you for joining us.

Barrett O’Neill 5:53
Thanks, Adam. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Adam Vazquez 5:56
We’re excited to have you so we were talking offline had some Boston memories. I was we’re sharing back and forth. You’re in the Boston area. And it started a couple of companies there. You got the on-demand storage had their tell us about that and your other business that you’ve that you’re running?

Barrett O’Neill 6:11
Yeah, so OnDemand Storage is pretty cool was actually founded in a dorm room at Babson College, where we were at which is in Wellesley, a suburb of Boston, what we realized was that all the international students that were there, they were going to Whole Foods and their Ferraris, and Lamborghinis, AWS varieties, and we said, Okay, we got to figure out how to get a little bit of that money. I think I got an internship at UBS, which for those who don’t know, is a bank. And I think I think it was like 14 or $15, an hour or so just started doing some math. And I said, Okay, I think that after-tax leaves me at about $4,800 for the summer, and I’m like that added going to kind of, so what we did is we created a website, a little brand was called simple storage at the time, we put a flyer there every door on-campus store, about 67 students in my parents basement, which is we lived about 20 minutes from campus, I think we did like 22k in revenue was like 90% profits, probably the last business that’s ever been run. But that was pretty much it. And then we realized there’s just this opportunity in this changing storage industry where we could fill up real estate with really be focused on commercial customers, so little bit of student business and some other stuff, primarily commercial, and we just fill up space, and we charge people monthly. And we’ve just found that at least where we are space is really at a premium. So we’re able to charge like 2829, even $30 per square foot. And like, our cost is not even close to that. So it just creates really nice economics, but it’s advantageous for our customer because they don’t have to go and lease their own space and sign a long-term lease. So there’s, there’s really an advantage to both sides. So we just kind of noticed an opportunity. It’s not the sexiest business in the world, but it’s fun, and we’ve bootstrapped the whole thing. So it’s been enjoyable.

Adam Vazquez 7:54
So for clarity, you are renting out other people’s empty commercial space?

Barrett O’Neill 8:00
So we have our own. Yeah, we have our own commercial space. And then what we’ll do is, we’ll Yeah, we’ll make we have deals with some recurring deals with manufacturing companies that need overflow space, we’ll store that. And then we have a delivery network, we don’t have our own trucks, you don’t want to be in the trucking game, but we have a network of companies that will deliver and pick stuff up for us. And then we also will help companies, whether they’re in transition, or a lot of companies are constantly shifting space, at least in the metro Boston area. So they need this space. And for whatever reason, finding three to 5000 square foot units to store stuff is extremely difficult, very rare space to find in our area. So our theory was we could get bigger space, and then we could lease out chunks of that to these companies. And then it’s just kind of grown from there and they pay monthly and we make money by charging more per square foot, but the benefit to them is that they don’t need to go out and deal with like finding real estate and assigning somebody to that. So there’s a really nice symbiosis there.

Adam Vazquez 9:03
Yeah, that’s a great business. I feel like there are a couple business stories. I’m aware of that. There’s a nick Huber, he started with a similar-ish model, and then my buddies over at Bellhop, I started with the exact same model.

Barrett O’Neill 9:17
Yeah, those guys have done well and I actually we almost bought Nick Uverse storage squad. Students Oh, yeah, we should compete against him and Dan as his partner who’s who is growing on Twitter as well. He’s really both great guys. incredibly smart, successful entrepreneurs. So we know those guys pretty well. And I’ve heard I don’t know the bellhop guys, but I’ve heard that they’ve done well.

Adam Vazquez 9:41
Yeah, they shifted more to becoming a tech company after several years doing that part of it. So and they’ve done well at least in terms of raising money and stuff. So quick question on the parent thing like were they just cool with the basement getting overrun with storage stuff?

Barrett O’Neill 9:56
Somewhere in my Twitter meta thread there I tell the story, but I think it was something along the lines of Hey, Mom, is it cool? If I store a couple of my friends stuff in the basement this summer, they don’t have close to here. And then I just shot dad a call on it was like, hey, look, here’s what’s really going on. And he was he my dad’s an entrepreneur. So he was like, I love it. Just my mom was like, she was cool with it. She loved it. But it was, I guess she liked it more. And I wasn’t asking her for money all summer. So we felt rich at the time.

Adam Vazquez 10:29
Oh, yeah. That’s a great success story. So I’ve seen you talk a lot on Twitter about the idea of risk, the idea of jumping out with a net. And I think recently, your writing about the fact that you jumped out without necessarily the safety net from your full-time job. And you wouldn’t recommend that to others. Tell us a little bit about that.

Barrett O’Neill 10:52
Yep, so I’m 30 years old. So I’ve been a full-time entrepreneur for about six full years, literally coming up this month. And at the time, I thought that that was the way to do it. I’ve since learned a lot. I also think a lot of tools and resources have come out in the last six years in particular about like slowly ramping up, I think the rise of freelancing and things like that are really attractive and very economically beneficial. And so I was working at Bain Capital, which is an investment company, out of college. And it just wasn’t for me in terms of being in the office all the time. So what I did was we came up with this idea for storage, we had done it in the past, we wouldn’t work to year. And we kind of just jumped in and quit. And at the time we were doing primarily student storage. So if you think about how dumb This is, we quit our jobs in July. And our main customer is going to be students storage customers, which school may. So there wasn’t like a ton of thought process that went into that. So that’s one reason. Yeah, but I think the big thing is now and what I’ve learned through my agency Bright Line Media, which I know we’re going to get into is I think starting with client work teaches you so much about entrepreneurship, getting customers, servicing customers, dealing with unhappy customers, getting referrals out of happy customers, all these things that are really important to growing your business. And you don’t need to be doing it full-time to even make a lot of money. I think most people could replace or surpass their income while still employed. I have this theory now—and I’ve totally 180-ed on this—is that the best piece of mind is cash flow and a little bit of cash in the bank. It actually allows you to take a step back and say, Do I really want to work with this person? Is this an ideal customer? Is this just a customer? And those things that don’t really seem like big deals at the time. But if you deal with enough of just a customers and not ideal customers over time, it just you lead to a place where you’re not happy, you’re a slave to your business, all these different things. So that’s why I’m I think the next generation of entrepreneurship is really exciting, because you almost don’t have to choose. And I felt at least I didn’t know anything about client work. I actually learned about client work and agency work from being on Twitter. So I didn’t know about any of this stuff. So I started an asset-heavy business that was seasonal at the time. We’re not seasonal any longer. In the opposite season. That would be appropriate.

Adam Vazquez 13:18
Right. In the offseason.

Barrett O’Neill 13:19
No money. So you think of all these things? And it’s like, well, yeah, I’ve been myself miserable for three years, that wasn’t very smart. And then it was when I figured out my agency business, that my personal life got a lot better. And I just looked back and I’m like, I honestly could, I was taking two-hour walks at lunch because I didn’t want to be in the office. I could have like in Boston Common cold calling people or something and I would have known about it. So that’s really what why I’m preaching now hard because I actually was really, really hard for two years, like just your self-esteem is low. Like you’re making less money than all your friends, all these things. And so, it’s really hard. And I don’t think you have to do that yourself. It doesn’t have to be hard.

Adam Vazquez 13:59
Yeah, it’s a really good perspective. I’m a similar timeline. I’m 32, but have been self-employed for about five years. And I think, for me at the time, I had to do it that way. Like I had to just rip off the band-aid, partially because I knew I was doing going to do I was working at that agency and then was going to do some bit of services. So it was going to be hard to like, let those coexist. But the other side of it is I think a lot of people use some of that complex as reason to not go all in, you know what I mean? Or whatever. And I think you can see both sides of it, but for certain personalities, I think quitting and having to figure it out and I think your point is you can kind of begin that process of figuring it out even before you quit and not have to deal with— We definitely took on terrible clients and strapped ourselves to bad situation so that on onboarding or on ramping through freelance or whatever it is, can kind of help you Avoid that to some extent.

Barrett O’Neill 15:01
You just brought up a really interesting point that I think is an important one to touch on, which is everybody’s different. And so I was actually having this conversation on the phone with one of my friends who also he has an anonymous Twitter account, that’s pretty big, like 70,000 followers. And, and he, I told him, we were talking about this. I wish I did it the other way. And he’s like, Well, knowing you, I think you’re the kind of person that had to rip the band-aid off. And I’m like, well, that’s fair, maybe, maybe I actually wish I just started a business that was faster path to cash flow. So I think when you analyze opportunities now, I’m very thankful because my diversification is split between the physical world with my storage company and the digital world with my agency. So it’s a really nice balance. And I kind of can take something from this and apply it here and vice versa. But either way, there’s a way to be methodical and smart about it. And it really, I think, the point is that the faster you can replace or surpass your income at your full-time job, that’s going to be the confidence that pushes you to keep going and allows you to kind of stick with it. Because after about a year, I was like, I don’t know how much longer I can, I can go I think we made $10,000, in our first year took on 10 grand The first year I made like 75, or 80, in my first year out of college at my job. So it’s just like, for you dramatic and great. I lived locally, like I lived at home and stuff like that. But not everyone has those opportunities. But I could have had a lot more fun at like 24 and 25 and 26 than I did.

Adam Vazquez 16:35
But tell us about that tell us about how you leaned into. I mean, because there’s an inherent in uncertainty that comes with being an entrepreneur to begin with. It’s even more impactful when you think about the cost that’s lost by hypothetically leaving a job or hypothetically you lose a certain amount of whatever that you had with Bain opportunity, capital, etc. And when you’re in the middle of it, it’s you’re only making $10,000 a year, et cetera. How did you work through that? And how did you continue to push to where you were able to come out the other side, and not only make the storage businesses success, but now have the second media company as well, where you’re helping other people with the lessons that you learned? What walk us through some of that?

Barrett O’Neill 17:22
Yeah, so I think the first thing if you’re lucky enough to have if you’re in a relationship, so my wife now Aaron, she was huge, and just being like, Hey, keep going, keep going, keep going, which it feels really good when somebody that maybe you want to spend your life with is pushing you and supporting you. So that gives you confidence to keep going, as opposed to if they were saying like, hey, you need to stop and go do right, that’s going to stress you that’s just like going to cause stress of a whole other area of your life. So that was number one. I was lucky with that. And we’ve since gotten married and it’s great. So she was great. I think the other thing is it’s almost like ignorance is bliss a little bit I remember my mom because my dad was an entrepreneur and has a similar thing. And she said something, hey, this isn’t moms are always rights. It is one of those things. No mom not bringing a coat not going to be cold. And it’s very similar. Then she goes, we’re starting the business. She’s a college hat for you. She’s like, just so it’s gonna take three years to make money even like Mom, you don’t know anything. Okay? Like, you’re a great nurse, but you don’t know anything about business. It’s like, three years to the freaking on the like, on the nose. And so I think a little bit ignorance is bliss. like had I known you being honest with myself on a self-assessment? If you would have told me that like, hey, from day one today 900 I guess when you think about that, well, you’re going to really grind for 900 days. I don’t know if we’re having this conversation right now. Yeah, so I think a little bit of that but it’s also just one day at a time you just kind of keep pushing right like anything and it’s even the same at a job yeah, you’re getting the getting paid the whole time. But your upside might be kept by office or company politics or whatever. So there’s always a downside to everything so if you want to my ultimate goal is to create a life where my income is tied very little to my time. I know for a fact that we’re not able to do that at a company so that was really it for me it’s like I’d rather go down swinging and and that’s what I did. But in hindsight when I really think about it 900 days maybe over 1,000 if you really do the math.

Adam Vazquez 19:25
Yeah, that’s a tough thing to sign up for on the front end. It’s almost better that you don’t know also shout out mom just coming through. When you finally were cashflow positive making some money was she like, yeah, it’s time like I told you was gonna be right, right.

Barrett O’Neill 19:40
I told her I was like I said, Hey, I absolutely It pains me to admit this, but you know more than I do.

Adam Vazquez 19:47
I bet she loved that.

Barrett O’Neill 19:48
Yeah. So, but say my parents were super supportive too. So just if you’re lucky enough to have family around, it definitely makes it easier to do it.

Adam Vazquez 19:58
It’s a great point, too, because I think this is one of the things that I get passionate about. People often talk about the idea that you have to start a company when you’re extremely young, or at least when you’re untethered, untethered to any location, any people, anything that could “hold you down.” My experience is very similar to yours, in that it was the entire opposite, like my wife was actually pushing, “Go ahead. Do it.” And I would always be like, “I don’t know, I need to be able to,” whatever. And anything, I think I used her as a crutch more so than what she actually feared. And so I think that that system of offended now I have two kids. And so that adds a whole element like, that all adds to the, your, your mentality, your endurance, in a lot of ways, your creativity in some way. So I think a lot of that is overblown. But you’re one of my favorite types of marketers, because so many of marketers and myself included, come up as marketers, meaning we didn’t operate businesses, and then learn how to market because of that. For me, I worked at a bunch of different I worked at a management consulting company, then because I’m agencies. And so my experience was based on consulting other people’s businesses, which is fine. But it’s not the same as when you’re grinding on day 720. And you have to find a way to market in order to get out of the basement or whatever it is. So that all of that context is sort of what bore your company Brightline Media. How did that come about? What do you all do there? Tell that story a little bit.

Barrett O’Neill 21:37
Yeah, so that Brightline came out of on-demand storage, really. So we with automated storage, we got enrolled, there was his banker, who was it was his last week on the job at a local bank here in Massachusetts. And they’re a relatively business-friendly bank. But still banking. Banking is tough for small businesses until you probably have at least five, six tax returns, and you have a relationship, it’s really hard relying on traditional lenders. And so FIS, they had some Express program, which was a crazy programming, basically, if you have you gave them try to think of what it was like, you literally printed out your QuickBooks and sent it to them. They were like, given you a loan, and this guy is like, Oh, it’s my last week, and I’m retiring next week. So I was like, alright, so you gave us 75,000 bucks, which we bootstrapped our business. It was like this was, we felt like, Steve Jobs or some flush? Yeah, it was. Like we’re rich. And so me being the genius, I convinced my partner I said, we should dump this on the PPC and think about it. Like you do this math, we have a temper symbol that will some BS equation I came up with and I’m like, then we’ll turn alternative 400,000 We’ll pay the bank back and we’ll just get a bigger loan and redo it. Obviously, 75k down the toilet a bunch of crap. Nobody knows. So yeah, so now I’d like to stay true actually raised a little bit because we guaranteed Islam. So I said, Okay, I’m gonna learn about SEO. And so we just started, we just rolled with it. And I said, I really have a choice. And so I never really thought of it before. And so, to this day, we are our PPC budget is zero. All organic, we get like, four I get six leads a day, organically, I’d say like, two to three of them are good. And every night like we just got, we just landed a $350,000 customer through webform. And credit. So yeah, so it’s turned into that. So we just till this day, and we recently changed our business a little bit. So we lost some rankings and stuff, which we’re working back over focusing only on commercial now. So we’re targeting like mostly that stuff, just those are the best customers. So what we did is I just started working with our vendors of that company saying like, Hey, we’re having success with this. And it just kind of snowballed and Metacat, who did email marketing was now one of my really good friends blew it up from there. Then I started tweeting about this stuff, and then that’s totally changed it because now with an audience, like it’s a lot more inbound, and people are coming to me. And so yeah, I pitched myself a lot of the time just like hey, I’m not a standard marketer, I still own equity and run businesses and then cashflow oriented. That’s why I tweet a lot about entrepreneurship and operating and running a business too, because that is the other half of marketing. Getting customers is easy if you have if you have an unlimited budget, right lose money. Like, it’s really no feat, getting customers in a way that is profitable and sustainable. And that can be reinvested to that’s something to be proud of. And so that that’s really where I tried to operate and think about to me earned media which is like SEO and now I think personal branding for executives and leaders is going to 10x and value over the next five years so that’s why I’m doubling down on that.

Adam Vazquez 24:49
It’s a great point on operating the business I think it’s why so many people creatives who come into, they maybe started as a freelancer and then decide, okay, I’m going to open up my own shop or my own An agency or whatever, it can be a struggle because you’re really good at the one thing, but there are so many other things that need to be done past client acquisition in order to run a successful business. But yeah, so you mentioned thought leadership there at the end, personal branding, you’ve obviously grown a very significant audience on Twitter. You may be on LinkedIn as well or other places, I’m not sure, but—

Barrett O’Neill 25:21
Just getting started on LinkedIn.

Adam Vazquez 25:23
Okay. Any downsides or distractions that you’ve seen from growing an audience so large? Or is it just helpful and cyclical?

Barrett O’Neill 25:34
Yeah. I think we all like a little dopamine hit every now and then. So I think early on, as I was scaling my audience, I was refreshing my Twitter and LinkedIn. Now I’m at the point where I have 75,000 followers, roughly. It’s like, if you can’t monetize 75, you can’t monetize 750. You can’t monetize 7.5 million. Those are just orders of magnitude past a certain point. And I honestly think it goes way further in the other direction, to from 75,000. So my thought now is right, like, I view it as an asset. And so audience is like currency. You can trade your audience and your influence for meetings, money (which is like clients or sales), opportunities, DMing people that might not have responded to you with Outlook. And so it doesn’t actually make you a smarter or better person, I think you get a little bit smarter from writing and putting in the work and stuff like that. But the real value is just the doors that can open and can potentially open. It’s just like being at a poker table with a few more chips, I think. And I think that those will be more important as time passes. Because here’s, here’s that that the question I was used for people, and this might be helpful to put it in a way that everyone can relate to. Are you a basketball fan?

Adam Vazquez 26:59
Huge, unfortunately.

Barrett O’Neill 27:00
Okay, so you might debunk this, but maybe not. So who owns the Houston Rockets?

Adam Vazquez 27:07
Nelson or Tilman Fertitta or something like that.

Barrett O’Neill 27:09
Right. So you maybe know. You’re a huge basketball fan. Who owns a Dallas Mavericks?

Adam Vazquez 27:14
Cuban.

Barrett O’Neill 27:16
That’s it right there. Like you can ask any person on the street who owns a Dallas Mavericks. It’s Mark Cuban? That’s a function of him building an audience, obviously, you’re insanely successful entrepreneur. But he built an audience. And this is another great example is who’s the CEO of Bank of America? No idea. No idea who’s the CEO of JP Morgan? Chamber guy like, Jamie? Yeah, but it’s like, why do I even know that? That’s important because we used to associate people with the companies they work for. We’re now associated companies with the people who lead them. Elon is the obvious crazy, like, who’s the CEO for it? It’s like, I have no idea. And then you look at Elon, I mean, he’s like the extremes, but I think the Mark Cuban was fun, because it’s sports related. It is, most people don’t know. And it’s like, those teams are like, what, two hours apart or something like that three hours apart. And it’s really interesting. So all the smart people that I knew not famous people like that, but smart people were building an audience on Twitter. And so I said, I better get started. And so that’s the way I look at it as I think on a good month, I’ll get like, 21 or 22 million impressions on my tweets. That’s insane. So it can’t fly that. Yeah, yeah. So you think of that, what does that cost on Facebook or something? Right? And it’s like, costs going up every day as they keep as Apple keeps making it harder and harder.

Adam Vazquez 28:37
Two questions. Was I right about—? Was the Rockets guy Fertitta?

Barrett O’Neill 28:41
I don’t know. I refuse to look it up. You have to let me know.

Adam Vazquez 28:48
All right. We’ll, look it up afterward. The only reason I would even know is because the Sixers Daryl Morey came over from the rockets. And then we got hardened. So we have like some rockets ties, but I don’t even know if that’s correct.

Number two is, with content creation, specifically Twitter, I mean, I think that is what you’ve done. There is super impressive to someone like me, because I’ve been on Twitter for whatever, a decade, I don’t even know exactly how long but not necessarily in a focused way, not as silly for business purposes for most of that. So how long have you been focusing on that channel? And then, what was it? Was it one topic or one practice or when did you start to see the hockey stick growth from wherever you started to? 75k Because that’s, that’s a sizable audience.

Barrett O’Neill 29:44
Yeah, well, I appreciate that. And so I too, so I call people that are on Twitter that are not actively trying to go I call them Twitter lurkers and you’d be surprised at the people who will pop into your DMS as you grow that are Twitter lurkers. And like there are people you For example, I had one guy who reached out to me from an anon account with three followers to little just gray guy as the photo. And he’s like, Hey, I’m the CEO of a $100 million mortgage company, blah, blah, like, this is just my burner account, like, especially likes, like, was just so weird. So I hesitate to do, but I’m like, Okay, here’s my email, email me or whatever. And he was, he really was. So like, we’ll text and I’m going to help him with some stuff, probably. But that was pretty eye-opening to me. And I probably only had 10 or 12, maybe 15,000 followers at the time. And so that’s the type of the audience you’re getting there. And so for me, I started really focusing on it on in January this year was like, New Year’s resolution type thing. I was like, really? Yeah, I really want to do this, you can go back and through my meta thread, the top my profile, and it has every thread I’ve done that so threads is how you grow on Twitter, and, but there are different orders of different types of, of threads, right? There’s like the engagement threads that it’s like low quality. So mine are all focused on business entrepreneurship. Different strategies that you can use in business, like I really like how companies use different psychology, psychology strategies to grow, grow their business price, their products, things like that, sure, or marketing stuff, specifically, SEO and earned media. And so that’s all I really tweet about in that lane. So I don’t really do a lot of like, here’s seven ways to get rich, and it’s like eat breakfast or something like that, like the Jetsons will get ready to eat some chocolate. I don’t write the point, I’m not doing it to pump my ego. I’m doing it to build leverage. So I won’t, I would rather have like audience size at a certain point. I know people with 8000 followers who make a million bucks a year off Twitter and an Obeah. What 250,000 Who can’t make 1,000 a month. So it’s, it’s really is about the affinity of your audience. So I really like to tweet about what I like and what I care about. And what I’m learning. So my whole strategy is the intersection of what I’m doing and what I’m learning. And that’s what I tweet about.

Adam Vazquez 32:06
Okay, but give us some— Where were you in January? You weren’t at zero in January, right?

Barrett O’Neill 32:11
Like 2,000, but it was like friends and family.

Adam Vazquez 32:15
So this is a significant growth this year. I mean, we’re recording this. It’s August 2. So the last—

Barrett O’Neill 32:21
So it’s been like roughly 10,000 a month. May and June were slow because I think there was like a little there. I maybe my stuff just suck then but I thought there was like the algos being a little slow. And I was away a little bit. So I was like reposting stuff.

Adam Vazquez 32:39
And Twitter was distracted because they were getting acquired and all that.

Barrett O’Neill 32:44
I think they were toning some stuff down that in one Elon to save maybe that’s yeah, maybe that content was just garbage. But I would say that.

Adam Vazquez 32:55
I know you just said number, the number doesn’t matter. But that’s super impressive, especially for someone who is learning on the fly here, like coming into it and tweeting about your experience. You’ve got your business, that’s incredible that you’ve built that people just love tricks, trends, tactics, like anything that you said you’d advise as someone’s trying to start and build an audience of some kind.

Barrett O’Neill 33:19
Yeah, what I would do is is fine, like you can look at my account so I think—

Adam Vazquez 33:24
What is your account, by the way? We’ll link it, of course, below.

Barrett O’Neill 33:27
Just @barrettjoneill, so B-A-R-R-E-T-T-J-O-N-E-I-L-L. It’s a good question. So I think like everything and kind of back to the beginning of the conversation, there’s the way like you did it. And then there’s the way you would do it if you knew what you knew. And so I think that’s more helpful. Because everybody has different levels of like, there might be some people who can grow way faster than I did, if they’re naturally great writers, like it took me a while to become a good writer, I think I’m pretty good now, but it took a lot of work. So what I would do is I would find, like 10 to 15 Big accounts that you really like I would follow them I would study all their stops how they’re doing it. And so the way that you grow follower count is 100% with threads, like that’s how it is. And but then I think you need other threads for like to interject some personality to interject authority to reinforce and so like, because to achieve virality there has to be some level of mass appeal or also won’t go viral, right like that. That’s kind of the conundrum of going viral. So you get a lot of followers but it’s hard to build extreme authority with that. So then you reinforce as you get new followers with authority, so I’ll do things like I’ll tweet something maybe about a negotiation strategy that I use to close a deal or something and then I’ll reinforce that that week. If I get a couple 1,000 followers are reinforced. I was saying like, hey, people are really out here trying to overcomplicate how SEO works. I think you could get strong backlinks and 4000 words of content per month, and your website loads fast, and you’re ahead of 95% of people. And so that just educates those people like, oh, okay, like, hey, that’s super interesting. That sounds like some earned wisdom and maybe some stuff that you wouldn’t read it DBLog might make that 5000 word just want me to get right. Right, right. And so you reinforce it that way. And then ultimately, maybe you make some offers, like, Hey, have a spot up with my agency this month DM me, or whatever it is. And so I think that that’s kind of how it works. You cast a wide net, and then slowly shrink it down to offers. And if you’re looking for someone who’s probably the best at making offers on Twitter is a guy named JK Molina. He’s the best at offers, like he probably makes the most of his Twitter account and anybody that I’ve seen, really, okay, yeah, he’s like, he all he has a saying. He says, “likes ain’t cash,” which I think is awesome. But he’s really, really good. He’s way better making offers than me. Like, I’m good to follow if you want to look at what works for Rogue audience and stuff. But JK has like the tactics for, like, turning it into cash. I’m always studying his stuff.

Adam Vazquez 36:07
Oh, his website, I’m just looking at his website is LikesAin’tCash.com. That’s great. I love that.

Barrett O’Neill 36:18
Yeah, so he’s awesome. I would definitely recommend following him. And I’ve looked at Big accounts and to see how they’re doing. I would also turn notifications on if you comment, thoughtful stuff on people’s, they’ll eventually that kind of the unwritten rule on Twitter is if you engage enough with someone, thoughtfully, eventually they’ll start engaging back even really big accounts. So it’s just like, turn the little bell on. So you can push notification when they tweet. And then eventually, I would form groups of people where you can kind of bounce ideas off of and you just get to know people. I look at it through networking lens, not through a follower lens. And then like the followers are kind of a byproduct of knowing good people, and putting out quality content. And it’s like followers will come.

Adam Vazquez 36:56
That’s awesome. Love that love all the love all of the story that you’ve been able to share with us in the way that you’ve pushed through and congrats on everything that you have built to this point. What has you excited moving forward? Any content? Any ideas, any trends that you’re particularly excited about?

Barrett O’Neill 37:15
It’s a good question. There’s a lot I’m excited about in the future. I think overall, that the thing I’m most excited about is the ability for the individual to build leverage is, it feels like it’s increasing at a pace that is hard to keep up with almost where I don’t know if you ever heard that navall Raava Khan podcast where he talks about labor, capital code and audiences, the four-hour big time is yeah, if anyone who’s listening has not listened to that shut this one off.

Adam Vazquez 37:47
100%.

Barrett O’Neill 37:48
It’s way better. And but that concept, to me, that was really why I started tweeting and getting into it. And so it’s really the individual. And what I mean by building leverages the ability to multiply yourself, multiply your knowledge, multiply the resources that you can provide to other people really in an infinite way. And you can almost completely disassociate your time with income. And you think even back to our parents, my parents are in their 60s, you think back to their generation, it’s like, they genuinely did not have these opportunities. The only type of leverage they had was labor and capital, that you need capital to get labor that now we have a global workforce. You have the internet, which is obviously the ultimate leverage is pretty much free. You have Twitter, all these different social media apps, which are literally free that you can build insane leverage on. So that’s what I’m most excited about. It’s like the individual is just way more empowered than and I think that’s only going to increase it’s like I think more things will become individual, which is a good thing gives ownership to the people.

Adam Vazquez 38:56
Yeah, that thread you were you referenced. There’s also a podcast. It’s also essentially become a Erik Jorgensen compiled all of the devolves isms into a book the novel. You gotta check that out. The NIV Almanac is excellent. I have it on my bookshelf.

Barrett O’Neill 39:15
Smart, get your own almanac.

Adam Vazquez 39:16
It is. He didn’t obviously write it. Somebody else compiled it. But he’s like, signed off on it at the end. So it’s pretty good resource. Yeah, we’ll link all of that below for anyone who has not gotten to engage with that golden wisdom. But Barrett, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for jumping on with us. Thanks for letting us follow along. If anyone else wants to check out what you’re doing, check out your businesses. And obviously follow along with your journey. Where should they where should they follow?

Barrett O’Neill 39:45
Yeah, so obviously I’m on Twitter at Barrett J. O’Neill. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. I think my handle is the same there. And I’m actually launching a new site for my agency. It’s brightlinesocial.com, is our domain. My new site up and up and running. In hopefully a week, that goes probably too. So, but yeah, happy to connect with anyone. I’m always looking to grow my network. And yeah, follow along and hopefully can learn something.

Adam Vazquez 40:14
Alright, man. We appreciate it. We’ll catch you soon.

Carlton Riffel 40:16
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening to this episode of Content Is for Closers. We hope you find this show really helpful as you grow your business with content. Maybe you know of other people who would find this show helpful as well. How about you send them our way? If you didn’t like this show and you want to tell us that, then you can head over to contentisforclosers.com where you can send us a message, give us some feedback, ask questions, or find detailed notes for every episode. Until next time, keep creating and keep closing.