We speak with Mark Daoust, a serial entrepreneur who shares his expert knowledge on digital business. Two of his most recent and well-known ventures are Quiet Light Brokerage, a website brokerage firm, and Catholic Singles, a fast growing dating site.
Before Quiet Light Brokerage, Mark founded an online publication and grew its subscriber base to 220,000 members. Mark has been a presenter at top conferences and seminars as well as a guest author for numerous publications.
Bobby: Thanks for joining us today Mark. You have an awesome background, so I think it’d be cool for you to quickly explain to us your entrepreneurial background and your start in business.
Mark Daoust: Yeah, in the early 2000’s, businesses were getting tons of money. Out of college I got a job with a tech company during the bubble. Right when I started working there, the company went from thirty of us down to three. I was one of the three to stay. In one day, my account list went from two clients to two hundred. Shortly after that I was let go. That’s when I started to do my own stuff; it was a blessing.
I then started my own business and got 120 clients in my first day. I was scared. Unfortunately, the business blew up in my face and lasted only six months. I made a huge mistake: I wiped out all of my clients’ data in one day, so when I told them this, they demanded chargebacks. That business was over.
I then eventually created a newsletter for those interested in becoming internet entrepreneurs. The site had advice covering all aspects of starting a digital business. I grew the company to about 220,000 subscribers and sold the business two years after starting it when I was 29. I then started Quiet Light Brokerage, a way to help entrepreneurs cash out on their digital business projects. Then, two years ago I bought CatholicSingles.com.
Bobby: Awesome. Let’s go back to your newsletter. What strategies did you use back then to grow your subscribers versus what you use now for your current ventures?
Mark Daoust: Yeah. Back in the day, people’s mailboxes were not crowded at all. Today, that’s not the case. Now, at Quiet Light Brokerage, we are focused on the active pruning of our email list. We now go through our email list and remove those who do not engage with our email content in the past fifteen months. Email providers look at engagement to decide whether or not the email should be placed in the users’ spam folder.
Also, today we have to care about delivering valuable content to those on our list. We think really hard and long on giving them content that is ridiculously useful. People should actually look forward to receiving communications from a business.
Another big thing that has changed from the past is email automation. You can now much more easily setup complex email sequences. Depending on a user’s actions on the site and with a company’s emails, a user should get a personalized, unique email sequence. Email needs to be more personal nowadays.
Bobby: So is email marketing your main form of marketing for your two current businesses?
Mark Daoust: It differs between the two companies. For Quiet Light Brokerage, we are focused on building a brand. We have a really long, patient sales process. We focus on a lot of educational content. I give talks, we have a podcast called the Quiet Light Podcast to help those who are interested in selling or buying digital businesses. Ultimately, for Quiet Light we have a brand strategy. For Catholic Singles, we are focused on a much more funnelized approach using content, social media, and other common marketing mediums to get new subscribers.
Bobby: Great. Do you have any advice for how a business or individual can maximize what they are doing on the web?
Mark Daoust: Awesome question. My first part of advice would be to find a strong community for whatever you are doing online. For example, if you’re going into ecommerce, go on ecommercefuel.com, a private forum. Joining such forums might cost some money, but you have access to a bunch of already successful people who already did what you are trying to do.
I’ve heard that you will have the net worth of the average net worth of the five people you hang around with. For example, I have a small group of guys I meet with once every couple of months who all own online businesses. This group has done amazing things for me.
Another thing you can do to maximize your effect online is to always look ahead. Everyone knows, the internet is moving incredibly fast. You always have to be thinking long-term. I have seen so many once successful businesses fall flat on their faces because they built their success on some shaky, current foundation. Avoid single points of failure in business. This is a lot easier to do if you always look ahead and make moves on the future.
Bobby: Great. Let’s get to the fire round. It’s really not quick at all, but let’s get started. If you were hiring someone out of college right now, what would you look for in that individual?
Mark Daoust: I want to know that an individual can think on his or her own. The other thing I require when I hire someone is for that individual to be willing to tie her pay to her performance. People should be confident and motivated enough to want their performance to dictate their success at their job. This is an idea that needs to be valued more highly. Most people have lost their sense of ownership in the workplace.
Bobby: Great stuff. What do you believe you have to give up to be successful?
Mark Daoust: Well, we would have to define success first. For me, I think success really is quite objective and most people have flawed senses of success. I have people with incredibly impressive resumes who are miserable, and these people really are not successful at all. Also, I think if you have to sacrifice something that is good and important in your life to “become successful”, then you are really sacrificing success itself.
I do believe, however, that you will have to sacrifice bad habits and vices. You need to become virtuous to become truly successful. And this is something that used to be taught all the time, but isn’t anymore. You have to develop prudence, exercise it like a muscle.
Bobby: Yeah. And I think that more people should understand to love the journey and not just the end. If you love the journey, your life will be amazing. Last question, what is one life-hack that listeners can do this week to become more successful?
Mark Daoust: I will share something I started doing myself. Start journaling right now. Start writing down what you do everyday. In this world of complexity and constant digital stimulation, journaling can be very effective. Look up bullet journaling, a specific method of journaling, and start to do that.
It’s literally just an analog exercise that slows you down a little bit and think things through. It can really help you create and reach goals. It helps you filter out what’s important in your life and what’s not.
I have a second piece of advice as well. Everyday, unplug for ten to fifteen minutes. Make sure you put down all electronics and just sit there and think. Or, take a walk and do not put the headphones in. Trust me, your productivity will improve because of this. This is actually a good challenge. This week, everyone take fifteen minutes to just sit down in silence doing nothing. See what happens and see what thoughts pop into your mind.
Bobby: Great. That’s some awesome advice. We’ll let you get on your way. Any last words you’d like to say?
Mark Daoust: Yeah, if anyone wants to get in touch with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love interacting with and helping whoever reaches out to me.
Bobby: Great. Thank you so much for joining us today Mark. We’ll stay in touch.
Some reminders from this podcast:
1. As Mark pointed out, finding a strong community (e.g. an online industry-specific forum) related to your area of interest can do wonders.
2. THIS WEEK: #1. Go online to learn how to bullet journal. Make bullet journaling a habit. #2. For 10-15 minutes each day, set down all electronics and get away from outside noise. Take some time to think.