Seth Spears is the Co-founder, CTO and Chief Marketing Strategist at Wellnesse, a personal care line of products crafted from the highest quality ingredients. Seth is also the Chief Marketing Officer at Wellness Mama, the top ranked health and wellness website for moms and families. After his wife started Wellness Mama as a blog in 2009, Seth has successfully grown the page to over 10 million monthly pageviews.
Seth also runs his own digital marketing consultancy called Spears Marketing, which specializes in generating new customers using online strategies. He holds a degree in Business Administration, Marketing, Management from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Seth Spears explains why he quit his “real” job to start his own business
- Why Seth’s wife Katie decided to create a wellness blog and how Seth helped her build her website
- The online marketing domination strategy for 2020
- How Seth and Katie handle the customer centric side of their business—and the first position they hired to help
- Seth’s advice on how to nurture a passion or hobby into a fully fledged business
- How companies and people without huge personal brands can build and grow their businesses
- What is the balance between quantity and quality in the blogging sphere?
- How Seth and his wife have successfully juggled their business with their personal lives
- The core questions people should ask themselves today to improve their businesses tomorrow
In this episode…
The rapid growth of online businesses—including successful blogs—over the last couple of years means that there is now more competition than ever in the e-commerce industry. Because of this, it is crucial for entrepreneurs to think outside of the box when it comes to marketing tactics in order to grow their audiences and boost their businesses.
According to online business owner Seth Spears, one of the best ways to do this is to build a strong personal brand that stands out from the competition. His advice? Find your unique selling point, learn how to be a good storyteller, and make time to connect with your target audience.
Seth Spears, the Co-founder, CTO, and Chief Marketing Strategist at Wellnesse, joins host Eric Stopper in this episode of Buy Box Experts to share his best strategies for building a powerful online brand. Seth talks about the ins and outs of running an online business with his wife, Katie, and shares his advice on how to balance quantity and quality in the blogging space. Stay tuned.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Buy Box Experts
- Wellness Mama
- Spears Marketing
- Seth Spears on LinkedIn
- Katie Wells on LinkedIn
- Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
- The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Saddleback Leather
Sponsor for this episode…
Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.
The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.
Buy Box Experts prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management.
Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com.
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.
Eric Stopper 0:18
bought into the Buy Box Experts podcast This is Eric Stopper. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them beatable. We’ve got a team of consultants, I am one of them. I would love to talk with you about your Amazon presence. Things are wild. Amazon hates you. We get it. Come and talk to us. We’ll run the right reports and tell you where you need to look. Go to buyboxexperts.com click on the free analysis button and you’ll be connected with me or a member of my team.
Today, I’m pleased to be joined by Seth Spears, co-founder, CTO and Chief Marketing Strategist at Wellnesse, a personal care line product crafted from the highest quality ingredients He is also the Chief Marketing Officer of Wellness Mama, the top ranked health and wellness website for moms and families which his wife Katie started back in 2009. As a vlog, he painstakingly grew that page to over 10 million in monthly pageviews. Seth runs his own digital marketing consultancy called Spears marketing is all about generating new customers using online strategies. And I brought him on to talk about how to generate new customers both on and off Amazon in 2020. Seth, welcome to the show.
Seth Spears 1:31
Eric, thanks so much. Happy to be here.
Eric Stopper 1:33
So you are a busy guy. You got a lot of a lot of things on your plate, I listed at least five hats that you wear. And I understand that you were in a normal job for a number of years and then got out of it. Just tell us a little bit about that transition.
Seth Spears 1:50
Sure. Yeah. So the last quote unquote real job I had would have been, which I left was in 2009. I was working for a university as the assistant director of admissions, helping recruit students to college and so handled, I helped with some of their marketing and strategy surrounding that and trying to get it was a small liberal arts college. And so trying to entice students to come there when we’re trying to compete against some of the bigger schools and they’re able to offer more money and you know, all those things like that,
Eric Stopper 2:24
right? And then you just said, forget this.
Seth Spears 2:29
I was there for about four and a half years or so. Okay. Yeah, four and a half, five years, somewhere around there. And I got sick of it, you know, I just got really burnt out working there. Just realizing that no matter how hard I work, no matter if we met our numbers or not, I wasn’t getting compensated. Additionally, for the extra work that I would do or for how many new students I would bring in or going above and beyond just the normal salary, plus the salary wasn’t Good. So, so you know, it was like one thing led to another. And finally I was like, I’m out, I gotta figure out what I’m doing. I’m gonna, I’m gonna go out on my own and do consulting, helping homeschool students prepare for college. Because I was homeschooled in high school. And so I understood what students needed to do to prepare for college. And also what on the university side was what they were looking for, so that they could increase their chances of getting in.
Eric Stopper 3:27
So you stuck to what you knew. You went into an area that you already had some experience, and,
Seth Spears 3:31
Well, I saw a need there. And I realized that I had a skill set in the background that could hopefully help with that, too. kind of complicated, though, you know, I was married with three young children as well and going out of my own and without any actual revenue stream, but had some savings. So that was, I had fun.
Eric Stopper 3:50
Terrifying did that business take wasn’t successful,
Seth Spears 3:52
you know, it was a great learning experience. I would not say that it was monetarily successful, although the website that I built and I put out a lot of content and both written and video and things like that, and I ended up selling that website several years ago. And so I made a little bit of money on it that way. So that was, that was kind of cool. So like the first entrepreneurial venture that I ever tried in selling it and was profitable, they’re so
Eric Stopper 4:22
nice, and that same year, okay, so Katie starts this blog or she’s talking to you about it, what spurred her wanting to start Wellnesse.
Seth Spears 4:30
Oh, so basically, in 2006, we were newly married, just had our first child, you know, I was working for the college. And she was a journalism major in college, and then had gone back to school for nutrition. And she was actually she was in school for nutrition at the time, and she was having some health issues and trying to figure out what was going on, and also realizing that the health of our current generation was going down with obesity and diabetes and cancer and Alzheimer’s and heart disease and all of this stuff, just realized that the current generation and coming up was going to have a lower life expectancy than the prior one. And that really scared her. And so she’s like, I got to figure out how to improve my health and fix my own health issues and for our kids and our family, too. So originally, I was a tech early adopter. And so I encouraged her to start a political blog, because remember, this was back in the mid 2000s, when all the political blogs are going crazy, you know, both on both spectrums, left and right. That’s when HuffPo is just getting started and Red State Blue State, Michelle Malkin, and Daily Costs and all of these. And so I saw a lot of potential there as far as just because she was a great writer, hey, start a political blog. She’s like, no, if I do that, I’m gonna go crazy. And I’d rather write about hell than just because I’m already researching these things and why not just kind of write out and journal about the things that are discovering this kind of her philosophy, and so she did. And so that was just that it was over like, number of bloggers, blogspot.com, one of the first blogging platforms that Googlebot had so that was over there. And so she would just kind of write haphazardly and stuff. You know, as she felt like it as she was discovering new information and things like that. So it wasn’t a big thing at all. So, in 2009, as I was leaving the college that I was working for, and I was going out on my own doing the independent consulting for homeschool students, she decided to get a little bit more serious about it because she had finished her nutrition degree and started writing a little more regularly. We also realized that as I’m going out on my own, if I’m going to consult for students, I got to have a website, right? So I better figure out how to build it. So I dove into WordPress and figured out how to build a website, how to build a blog and content and then as I’m doing that, I also realized that she needed one too. I’m like, Well, I guess I gotta build it out for her. Also, it kind of uses that as a learning experience and as a testing ground.
Eric Stopper 6:55
Makes a lot of sense. Now you know, I’m trying to think back to 2006 2009 right, you’ve got one kid. Most people gain a lot of weight when even the husbands gain a lot of weight too and they have their first kid. I understand that you’ve gone through your own health transformation over the last. How long would you say that? Did it start in 2009? Is it more recent? Are you a Corona workout aficionado?
Seth Spears 7:20
So that this is a little bit of a longer story? As far as the background of all that? Yeah. So I think everyone when they first get married, they tend to put on a little bit of weight, especially after having kids and things like that. And that was a little bit of the case for me. But in 2012, I had an emergency appendectomy, my appendix partially aborted. And the doctor when he took it out, he didn’t get it entirely cleaned out, as clean as he showed up. And so because of that, I developed a secondary infection. I ended up in the hospital for 10 days, nearly dying. I was on multiple antibiotics and basically it completely ruined My gut microbiome and so basically from 2012 onwards until about the past couple of years I just couldn’t lose weight my testosterone was really low I was just sluggish and tired all the time and I just didn’t feel like myself I just had the energy level and everything and every time I would eat I would get bloated and so it’s been a very long time coming where I finally been able to make a lot of health changes have done a complete elimination diet a lot of water fasting and intermittent fasting as well and basically receded my guts so that it’s I don’t get bloated anymore and down my lowest weight since I think my freshman year of college and just have lots more energy and feel a lot better. So that’s, that’s taken a lot over the years.
Eric Stopper 8:40
Yeah, yeah. And I think the last thing that I was that I wanted to prompt you on is something about a secluded hunting cabin that you have. I want to know about this before we jump into all the deep marketing stuff.
Seth Spears 8:55
Sure. Well, you know, I’ve always loved the outdoors. I’ve always been Hunter and just you know, love getting out there. And so I still have a little private getaway where when, when I first launched my marketing consultant, see company Spears Marketing, I had a client who specialized in log for log home and timber frame houses, and structures and things like that. And so I’ve built multiple websites for them. And so when I bought a piece of property and decided I wanted a log cabin, just as a getaway where I could take my kids, you know, family, my my brothers, we could just go and just get away and kind of decompress and get back to nature and kind of rewired ourselves. And so I had them go bad and kind of did a little bit of a trade off. And so yeah, so I get back there as often as I can just to kind of get away and decompress.
Eric Stopper 9:44
Man, I would, I would recommend it to everybody. I was perusing some of the slide decks that you have posted on LinkedIn and I found one that was really old. Can you tell me about the four point online market domination?
Seth Spears 9:57
Yeah, that is a really old one. That was Actually a marketing asset that I believe I had purchased from. I bought a lot of courses and things over the years as far as continuing education and just teaching myself. And I think that was a white labeled piece that they gave us to use as a marketing piece for our potential clients. And I would say that that’s probably not even that accurate. As far as I’m on it.
Eric Stopper 10:23
So let’s fast forward then to 2020. Is there a four point online market domination like what would you have everyone consider right now to start really dominating their online market?
Seth Spears 10:37
To answer that question, let me ask you a question. What type of industry business niche location because it’s gonna vary so much.
Eric Stopper 10:46
Let’s go Let’s go Amazon. Okay, Amazon products, you know, let’s go nutrition. Okay. It is one of my least favorite markets, because there’s So many people competing there. And it’s really hard for me as a non expert in wellness to figure out like, what is right for me. But yeah, let’s let’s take the wellness market on Amazon.
Seth Spears 11:09
Okay, sure. And you know, this is a market that I know a little bit about both because we’ve been in this industry for years selling supplements, but promoting supplements as an affiliate and, and being a very big affiliate for Amazon. So one of the biggest things that I would say if a company, you know, say they’re new on the market, they’re just coming out with their own product line, one of the things that they have to do, and that’s one of the things we’re doing right now with Wellnesse is radical transparency, build, building out a rock solid brand and being as open and honest and transparent with their customers and potential customers as they possibly can. In this day and age, everyone, the internet has opened things up so much. We’re only one Google Search away from finding all the bad press, all the bad reviews, or any skeletons in the closet. So because of that companies have to be a lot more transparent and open with their customers. And so you know, answering Every, every, every comment, every Instagram message, every Facebook post, every comment on your YouTube videos, all of that and just building out a following based on being as open and transparent about your ingredients, your marketing all of that stuff while you’re doing it and making sure you’re in it for the right reasons and not just trying to white label something that was made in China, you know,
Eric Stopper 12:22
you know, I’m, I’m thinking about Crushing It! by Gary V again. And there’s another one. The Thank You Economy, right? He’s got some great stuff. I don’t agree with everything that he says but I really like him now. He’s all about personal branding. And in this conversation of like, comment on every on every YouTube, you know, respond to every blog comment, respond to every Instagram comment. Like, I barely have time to play Pokemon with my kid. You know, so I’m wondering like, how do you guys do it if you’re truly transparent and And just nailing that customer service customer centric side of your business. How do you do it? Like pull back the veil for us and teach us
Seth Spears 13:09
that? You know, that’s a great question, Eric. So when WellnessMama.com was first starting, you know and say 2009 when we really launched on that domain, and when Katie was just writing every piece of content she was responding to every comment that was on the site. Every email that someone responded to it, it was a lot of work. But it was because she cared so much. She gave a shout out more than anyone else. Because it was a hobby it was a passion project. It was never supposed to be a business. It was just a hobby where she was writing down her own research and information that she was finding trying to make our family or help our family and be as healthy as possible. So it was just passion. And if you’re passionate about something, you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it grow and because she was helping people as well. And so because of that there was not a whole lot of sleep. But that happened. Um, you know, we try to keep as much balance as possible. But I think balance is a moving target and it kind of goes in stages, you know, work more here and then play more here and take breaks and then you know all of that I’m sure you’ve experienced that as well in your own business.
Eric Stopper 14:16
And you know, sleep is one of those things that I have been unwilling to compromise for a long time. I’m trying to do the LeBron James thing where he sleeps like three hours in the middle of the day. Oh, yes. Great work through the night. So she, at what point did that become impossible for Katie? I’m trying to think of the year
Seth Spears 14:43
probably around 2015 2016 maybe well, so let me let me backtrack just a bit because I was already handling a lot of that for her or taking a lot of that off of her plate because in 2014 2015, it kind of transition from spirits marketing, being a boutique agency or an employee And developers and designers and all that stuff that I was working with got burnt out and kind of took a step back and said, Hey, I’m going to focus primarily on Wellness Mama, because there’s, it’s growing really fast. And there’s a lot of potential there. And I think that can, that’s going to be in the best interest of our family. So I had taken over a lot of those tasks already. So she wouldn’t have to kind of help put systems in place so that all of your time wasn’t spent just responding to people, whether that’s comments or emails or social media. But then even that began getting overwhelming. And so that’s when we started building out a team. And so I think the first position that we hired was, we, our social media manager, or community manager is what we call her. And so she would handle comments and social media and respond to emails and stuff like that. And Katie woods, she was still very actively involved doing that. But then she was primarily focusing on content creation, both writing new articles and then starting the podcast and doing all those things, you know, just focusing on the creative side and not just the responses that people are asking. Well, she would still do that too. But you know, going like once a week as opposed to everyday for a couple of hours.
Eric Stopper 16:05
Now I you know only a Sith deals in absolutes right so I I’m reluctant to even even ask some of these questions but I wonder like for digitally native vertical brands which is which is what a lot of I mean, that’s Wellness Mama right it was born online that’s wellness that totally born online. The first, the first position that you guys hired for was social media. I mean, is that should that be pretty typical? Or are people like hiring for the wrong positions, leveraging the wrong parts of their business? What would you encourage business owners that are kind of in that same starting arena that you guys were to do right now? Like, what’s the first thing they should take off their plate?
Seth Spears 16:50
I think it’s gonna depend on the company and the founders, the owner, what, what do they not want to do? What tasks do they absolutely hate? What’s the most time is not the best use of their time. So if there’s something that someone else can be hired to do that you don’t like doing and maybe you’re not even that great at it, that should be the first thing that they should hire for, in my opinion. Anyway, it made sense for us because she, the first person that we hired, was actually my sister in law. And just just getting some help with a site and you know, answering comments, handling social media, doing like some administrative tasks and creating some images. And it was it was a very all inclusive position where it wasn’t just one dimensional, where you’re the Social Media Manager and all you do is handle social, you know, it was it was customer service, it was like some design like image creation, it was administrative things and some email organization and things like that. So it again made sense for us at the time. But for many businesses, it might not, you know, I think it’s just gonna depend on where the need is.
Eric Stopper 17:58
Everybody’s everybody’s concerned about Making money, right? You got to get the cash flow. Everybody’s just like I’m starting this business too, to change my life. A lot of folks don’t necessarily start these blogs and stuff because they really care about the customers and they’re passionate about it, they do it because they know that that’s a part of the business philosophy. And I just wonder like, How can you nurture passion into a business? Or should it just be passion first, like ignore everything else ignore making money and just day job it until you until your thing is making money? What do you think there?
Seth Spears 18:38
You know, I think that again, like a lot of things, it’s going to depend on what works for one may not work for another. How we went about building our business was very different from what a lot of people have done, where they first focus on, we’re going to start a business and this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to take these steps and these steps and these steps. And we’re going to look at all these other other people or these other companies and model them or remember Make them or whatever. We never went into it like that because it was never a business. It was a hobby that became a business. if you know, it was like in 2010 2011, where Katie was balancing a checkbook and said, Hey, where did why are we getting money from Amazon? and forgetting that I had said, Hey, Amazon has this associated program where if you sign up and use a special link, and somebody buys and we can make money, so you know, the first check was 15 bucks, something like that. Nothing big but at the same time, like, yeah, it’s like, Hey, we actually made money online, get out of here, no way. Which is really cool. So, again, it depends if somebody is getting into it specifically as a business like take for example, Wellnesse, our new company, which is a personal careline products, that how we approach that is very different than how we approach Wellness Mama, which is content information and education. So because of that, our approach and the steps that we take are very, very different, just because one is very specific. Business and the other. Yeah, it’s a business great, makes a great income. It helps a lot of people. But it was never started like that. And so we’ve always run it very differently than most other people in the industry have and continue to.
Eric Stopper 20:11
There’s been this fun little change in, in e-commerce in general, it seems like I mean, like we like Rob Dyrdek, for instance, he launched he’s the host of Ridiculousness. He launched a protein brand called Live Momentous. And, you know, he was able to leverage his personal brand and now create a company brand. Same thing for Dan Reynolds and Kevin Hart. They started a company called VitaHustle, right, like, a lot of these. I mean, The Rock started. He’s got like five businesses. I think there’s been this shift from
Seth Spears 20:45
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