Episode 323

How to Create a Hobby Niche Training Based Membership Site with Steady Lead Flow with Fisherman Devin Denman

Learn how to create a hobby niche training based membership site with steady lead flow with fisherman Devin Denman in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. Devin is from Louisiana, and he has a course website on Louisiana inshore fishing. He also has a YouTube channel that covers his topic. Devin is a passionate fisherman and angler, and we dive into how he created his online course website to teach others about his passion.

In the mid 90s when Devin was a kid, he saw a commercial on TV for Mercedes cars, and at the end of the commercial they let watchers know to visit their website at mercedesbenz.com. And Devin realized the wealth of content on the World Wide Web and would spend time learning all about his interests in hunting and fishing and eventually would be using WordPress alongside LifterLMS to create his own online courses teaching others the same way he had learned as a kid.

In junior high school, Devin made money by selling pirated music and was always connected to the internet in some way, shape, or form. He joined the Marine Corps straight out of high school. He turned 18 years old in boot camp, he turned 21 on his second deployment to Iraq, and after he got out of the Marine Corps, he went to work for the State Department as a personal security specialist. After 7 years in that position, he discovered he really wanted to try entrepreneurialism and liked the idea of the challenge of creating his own business.

How to create a hobby niche training based membership site with steady lead flow with fisherman Devin Denman

Devin really enjoyed fishing, and during his free time overseas he went back to his room and learned a lot about WordPress websites and explored online his passions around fishing, eventually writing a simple WordPress blog and getting some traffic via SEO and building his personal brand.

As Devin tried to monetize his fish blog, he worked with selling t-shirts and hated that. He thought about writing a book, but didn’t think it made sense. So he ultimately decided to create an online course. Devin’s value proposition was basically that you can hire a fishing guide for $600-$800 for an eight-hour trip, or for $100 Devin can teach you everything you need to know for inshore fishing.

Devin also has a YouTube channel he has used as a way to generate leads for his online courses. He has made about 80 videos over the past 3 years, and he has tried out different segments and methods of reaching people on YouTube.

LAFB Elite is Devin’s membership package where you can access all his courses around inshore fishing. You can learn more about Devin and his courses around Louisiana inshore fishing at LAFishBlog.com. If you have any questions for Devin or want to learn more about his journey, you can also reach him at [email protected].

And at LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high-value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest, Devin Denman. He’s from the Louisiana. He has a course site on Louisiana inshore fishing, and he has a YouTube channel that covers this topic. He’s passionate about fishing. He’s an angler first, which we’re going to talk about in a little bit. One of the reasons I brought him in is to just tell the story of how he took his passion, and took it into this online learning and entertainment place. Also, how he uses YouTube in conjunction with the WordPress LMS site and how they work together. But first, Devin, welcome to the show.

Devin Denman:

Thanks, Chris. I appreciate you having me, and I’m ready to talk your head off and hopefully drop some knowledge bombs that your audience can benefit from, because when I was asked to come onto your podcast, and don’t take this the wrong way, but I knew you had LMScast because I’ve seen it, I’ve just never taken the time to digest a lot of the content, I guess. For one, I don’t have free time, and it’s not because I’m so busy, it’s because I hate free time and I must take free time to fill it with something.

Then if I’m working in the garage listening to a podcast, it’s always like half the brain is on the work then the other half is on the podcast. I don’t want to put anything on that is too serious, or also I’ll… To me, anything regarding an LMS is something I need to be putting 100% of my attention to. Normally my podcast, I’m just listening to Joe Rogan talk about DMT and aliens. Maybe not the most productive thing in the world, certainly interesting.

Chris Badgett:

I totally get that, by the way. I’m a huge podcast junkie. Sometimes I just want to listen to Joe Rogan talk to a CIA agent and other times I’m trying to level up my business career or whatever it is. That’s awesome.

Devin Denman:

Well, I did listen to… I was like, all right, I need to do my homework. I listen to one with Angela Brown, Russ Ruffino, and then the third gentleman, I cannot remember his name to save my life right now. They started out young. He started out when he was like 15-

Chris Badgett:

[inaudible 00:02:46] maybe?

Devin Denman:

That’s it.

Chris Badgett:

All right, the Canadian. Yeah.

Devin Denman:

It’s cool, because we have this day and age of the internet and being able to create your own website and all that. Just to fill… I want people to know that this whole thing you don’t have to be a nerd or an internet junkie or you don’t need to know how to code CSS or whatever, to do this. LifterLMS makes all this very, very easy.

My journey really in this began when I was a kid. Back in the early mid-90s, I was watching TV and there was this Mercedes commercial. At the end of the commercial, it was like visit our website, mercedesbenz.com, or whatever. I looked at my dad, I was like, “We need to get a computer. We don’t even have one.” So, we got a computer. This thing had a two gig hard drive, 144 megahertz processor. We built it. A CRT monitor, and for a kid growing up in Louisiana, most kids down here you’re going to go… You do sports or lots of hunting and fishing. You’ll go frogging at night, and we did hunting and fishing, more fishing than hunting, but I also liked just screwing around on the computer, man, because it was like a conduit to everything else, and I could learn so much. Almost anything you ever want to learn… Dude, you can learn how to build atom bombs on the internet. It’s crazy.

I built my first website on GeoCities. That’s a throwback, on GeoCities-

Chris Badgett:

Just for context, how old are you now roughly?

Devin Denman:

Oh, yeah, I’m 35.

Chris Badgett:

Okay, cool.

Devin Denman:

All right. That’s probably good to know. 35, I have a family, three kids. Me and my girlfriend live together. I like long walks on the beach and the color blue. That’s it. I’m not interesting, anything. That’s my story. Okay. Anyways, moving on. Internet computer, and all that was really cool. I was a kid that was burning CDs for everyone in high school. I was like, why would you ever go to the… I don’t know what we called it then, the CD store or whatever, and buy one, when I can just burn it for you man for like 30 bucks.

I made money pirating music in junior high in high school. But I was always connected to the internet in some way, shape, or form. Now, I joined the Marine Corps straight out of high school. Turned 18 in boot camp. Turned 21 on my second deployment to Iraq. Then after I got out of the Marine Corps, I went to work for the State Department as a personal security specialist, and did that for another seven years before I finally wanted to… I discovered I really wanted to try entrepreneurialism. I really liked the idea of the challenge of creating your own business. Because-

Chris Badgett:

What was it a bridge from military to wanting to be an entrepreneur? What compelled you to go from that military work into the entrepreneurial route, which can be a little difficult.

Devin Denman:

It is. For me, it is incremental, it was a journey, it really wasn’t a leap that happened at once. I wanted to… What it boiled down to is in the Marine Corps, as a recon marine, I was a 2nd Recon Battalion, and I wanted to re-enlist and go into Force Reconnaissance Company, which if you were Force Recon, it was the bomb, dude. Everyone there, they’re all NCOs and staff NCOs, it was a very mature group, very small. You pretty much had to get invited to go there.

But then they dissolved a good chunk of the Recon Battalions and all the Force Companies, and turned it into MARSOC, Marine Special Operations Command. We were all very wary, like, we don’t know how this is going to work out. Because there are different cultures within the military and the Marine Corps just… I don’t want to go on a diatribe here, but reconnaissance culture is so much different from the rest of the Marine Corps culture, and we weren’t too certain about MARSOC. But there was the State Department and I wanted to… What it boiled down to is I wanted to deploy more. I didn’t want to do a deployment like every year, year and a half, I pretty much just wanted to live overseas.

I got a job as basically a glorified babysitter, a personal security specialist, carding foreign service officers around Baghdad, making sure that they get to their meeting safely. Also, propping up bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and keeping them safe. In the big scheme of things, it’s like being a glorified Uber driver, a glorified babysitter.

I enjoyed that, because it’s more of the civilian world. It’s still a federal job, but it’s more the civilian world. In the Marine Corps, if I’m a sergeant and I have a lance corporal that’s underneath me, I could tell him, “Hey, lance corporal, you’re going to do this, because I told you so.” For the most part, that flies, even though there are better types of leadership that work a lot better than that. But when I was working for the State Department, I had guys working for me who had kids who were older than me, and I was like 24 at the time. I liked that because I can’t do the sergeant versus lance corporal thing with them, I really have to win their heart and mind.

I learned better leadership, better people skills there. But I got bored with it. I hate politics, dude, I just want to do my job and not have to worry about who’s going to take over whatever administration. That was always such a thing. After a while, on my free time, instead of going to the gym, I would just get on the internet and learn something.

I knew that I really, really enjoyed fishing. This is where the whole fishing and internet thing kind of come together here. Because when you’re overseas, you have a lot of free time, or usually. It depends on where you’re at and what you’re doing. But when you’re off it isn’t like you can you know go hang out Starbucks with their friends or whatever thing it is you would do on your free time. Over there, you just go back to your room and you’re like [inaudible 00:09:46] I was just like, all right.

I took a lot of time to learn stuff about building WordPress websites. But I’m going to pause that there and go back to the fishing part. In 2009, I was in between work with the State Department and another government agency. I was waiting for a security clearance to come through. I was at home for almost a year while they’re doing this whole security clearance thing.

I get home and I go hang out with my friends and party and drink. We go to New Orleans and Bourbon Street and stuff. That was fun for, I don’t think even a week-

Chris Badgett:

A month?

Devin Denman:

Not even a week, man. I was like, “What else can I do? This is just repetitive and it was boring.” Our pulled our old aluminum flat boat out of the garage and went fishing. Then I was like, I forgot how awesome this was, and I was just running out there every day. I would go out before the sun came up and I would be back after the sun went down.

I learned how to fish… I grew up with my father doing it, but I learned even more as an adult. People say I’ve been fishing since I was knee high or whatever, but you’re just riding with your parents. They’re doing all the real decision making, and taking the burden of all the responsibility. You’re just there for the fun part.

Chris Badgett:

Quick question, just for the people listening, what’s the difference between inshore fishing and deep sea fishing and Louisiana or whatever, what’s your fishing niche that you’re talking about here?

Devin Denman:

Probably the kind of fishing that’s most widely available to everyone would be freshwater fishing. Especially fishing for large mouth, just bass. So, large mouth, small mouth, whatever kind of bass, but just bass. Bass are everywhere. There’s probably a bass somewhere by you right now. I know there’s a bass across the street. They’re everywhere. They’re an incredible sport fish, that they’re probably the sportiest fish out there, and that’s why bass fishing is so big.

Then out in the ocean, you have the deep sea fishing; tuna, Marlin, swordfish, red snapper, cobia, whatever it is, and those are the… There’s a bunch of little niches out there of different kinds of fishing, but in between, in between the river, the freshwater river systems and the saltwater of the ocean, you’re going to have an estuary that on one side is zero parts per 1000 freshwater, and on the other side is 35 parts per 1000… When I say that, I mean salinity. 35 parts per 1000 is like average strength saltwater, and ocean saltwater.

You have zero on one side, 35 on the other, and there’s everything in between. There’s a bunch of different kinds of inshore species that exist in that range, like bass on one end and then your tuna on the other, and then in between is speckled trout, redfish, flounder, Spanish mackerel, mullet, there’s menhaden. The two primary source species would be redfish and speckled trout.

Chris Badgett:

Awesome. Well, thanks for clearing that up. That’s awesome.

Devin Denman:

Yeah, I probably could have done it from the get go. But what’s good about the inshore fishing here in Louisiana, and in general, anywhere on the eastern seaboard, or the Gulf of Mexico, but especially Louisiana, is that is relatively easy. In the bass world, it can be a little tougher. Bass can be more picky. You can use lure A down an entire shoreline and get that lure in front of fish, and they won’t bite it, but then you go back down for lure B, and then you whack the crap out of them. Meaning you catch all of them, you catch a whole bunch.

Inshore species are a little different in that they’re more ready to eat, they’re easier to catch, and there’s a slew of them. I know, when I would go out… A good day of fishing, if I had four people in the boat, we would catch 100 speckled trout. Then there’s red fish, where red fish is a bigger, tougher fish that likes to get in shallow water, they’re really fun to fight. They’re very, very strong, and they can get really big, upwards of 40 plus inches, but the slot redfish are caching. By slot, I mean the redfish between 16 inches and 27 inches. These are fish almost everyone’s targeting and you can do this really fun style of fishing, where you stand on a platform that’s elevated, maybe four to six feet above the water, you get these shallow ponds, and I say shallow, I mean anywhere from a foot to four feet, and this water is incredibly clear.

You can see these fish swimming around just like you see koi fish in a pond and you can cast to them, watch them eat, or you can just watch them, do whatever. It’s a whole lot of fun. I found this When I was bored with life, and had nothing to do, I started doing this and I just couldn’t get enough of it. When my security clearance finally came through, I went back to work, and the whole time I’m sitting at work, I’m thinking, how can I do more of that, and I don’t have to do any more of this job I’m not really appreciating anymore?

So, I became a fishing guide. That was fun, but my whole problem with a fishing guide thing is that it’s not… I do not mean to say this in a way that… I don’t want to offend anyone when I say this, but it really is not the best entrepreneurialism out there. Because at the end of the day, as a fishing guide, you don’t own a business, you own a job. If you get hit by a bus, you can’t take people fishing, okay? Then you don’t have an income.

Chris Badgett:

I totally understand. I used to be a sled dog tour guide in Alaska, and I totally get it, I totally get it. Well, which came first? Is it the website? Is it the YouTube channel, or is it the idea of making courses? How did you transition from in person guiding to internet?

Devin Denman:

Okay. I knew that I wanted to create a passive income and have a business that I could scale.

Chris Badgett:

What were you listening to or learning as you started learning about online business and passive income? How did you discover this whole area of life or work?

Devin Denman:

Well, I don’t think I could really pinpoint it to any one thing. I remember watching the profit-

Chris Badgett:

Did you read the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss? Did you get into that stuff?

Devin Denman:

No, and I’m going to tell you why, because somebody brought it up to me about the 4-Hour Workweek, and I’m looking I’m like, that’s a bunch of garbage. I’m never going to read that book. Four hours, what an idiot. Now, I know better. Which the irony is that, if you really love it, and I do, you’re not going to work four hours.

Chris Badgett:

Right. But you said you couldn’t get enough of it, you couldn’t get enough of fishing. Four hours would just scratch the surface, right?

Devin Denman:

All right. Coming back full circle, WordPress website, I knew that I wanted to… I’m fairly decent at writing and creating content, and I created my own website, which at the time was swampstallionventures.com. Today is lafishblog.com. But I titled the blog part of it Louisiana Fishing Blog. I guess the value proposition, if you could even call it that would be, read the thoughts and ideas of a Louisiana fishing guide, which at the time-

Chris Badgett:

What kind of content were you writing?

Devin Denman:

Just text and picture. Listen, when I say this thing is a blog, I’m dead serious, this is like a bare bones, what WordPress was originally made for blog. You just scroll down, and you hit read more on anything you actually want to read. Look, I did not know anything at all about social media marketing or email or anything. While I was overseas, I learned about the WordPress website and how to build it out. But a lot of the heavy lifting that we’re doing today, I was not doing then.

But we had fishing report websites, one that is kind of defunct now, but it was really big back then is rodandreel.com. So, I would post my fishing report there and then have a little backlink going to my website and that’s where people could book with me. The whole concept behind the blog thing was, I guess, is an inbound marketing tool at the end of the day.

It got a lot of traction, people really enjoyed reading my content, and I wasn’t writing for any of the big publications in this area, I was doing it for myself. I was driving traffic to the site by posting to these fishing report websites and I was building my personal brand.

Now, it got to the point where I was like, I don’t really enjoy guiding because it was good, the people are great, people are awesome, but you’re doing the same thing every day, and you can only fish as good as the skill set of that person. You’ll never become Michael Jordan if you’re constantly doing JV basketball. This is kind of like a dynamic between me loving fishing and wanting to become better at it and also me wanting to make money at it.

Then I guess at the same time, sharing what I know, in such a way to benefit people. I was like, well, what can I do besides this guiding thing? I tried t-shirts, and I hated that. Do not ever sell apparel. I was like, well, I could write a book. But then I thought about it, I’m like, didn’t make sense. I’m going to put all this work into creating what’s essentially a 40,000 word blog post, and then that’s it. Then I would write another book after that? I can’t update it, but then I have to sell it, sell a whole other book.

I was like, I had a freaking course. Because I spent time in the Marine Corps and the State Department as an instructor. I thought about all the, you can’t teach someone how to fish on a boat in eight hours. this is a pitch I would give people. A lot of guys didn’t like it, but I was basically saying, you could go fishing with a guide for $600, $800 for an eight hour trip, or for 100 bucks, I’ll teach you everything it is that you need to know.

That’s the ideas that I’m giving them the knowledge, because… Is there like a lure around here that I can use as a prop? Surprisingly, there’s not, but I could tell you, you need this screwdriver to build a house. Buy my screwdriver, and you can build a house. But you get this screwdriver by itself, you’re not building a house. There’s so many more tools you need, but before we even get started on that, there’s so many things you need to know.

I know, before we would do any kind of practical hands on thing with anything I’ve taught before in my life, there was always a classroom session. Then, the more I thought about it, the more… It is so important, this is so relevant, this is going to be a powerful thing, but it hasn’t been done. There’s no one in Louisiana, there’s no one at the time that had a fishing course like that for inshore fishing. At this point in time, I have a pretty good lead generation going on my website and getting email addresses.

Before I go any further, let me say that if you go look at my social media and YouTube, and all day, it’s not that big.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, I’m looking at your YouTube and you have over 6,000 subscribers and that’s a bit in a small niche, like Louisiana inshore fishing. To me, that’s big. It’s not like 100,000 or 900,000, but that’s… For a niche-

Devin Denman:

I can build it bigger than that, but that YouTube channel wasn’t my focus, really, until this past July. My focus has always been building my own platform, because-

Chris Badgett:

Your website.

Devin Denman:

Yes, yes. So important and have an email list. Email list and your own website, because I built a pretty big following on Facebook, this was years ago, we had 140,000 likes or whatever, and we all know what Facebook did. At the end of the day, what really is going to work with Facebook is you have to be good with Facebook ads. I think that’s the dynamite right there but-

Chris Badgett:

That’s expensive.

Devin Denman:

Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

I’m just curious, what are you using for your email list? What technology?

Devin Denman:

ActiveCampaign.

Chris Badgett:

Nice. I’m a big ActiveCampaign fan myself. Just curious.

Devin Denman:

Yeah, I’m all about automation. The more that I can have automated, I’m going to do. Because right now, as you are as well, we are actively emailing people and engaging them in a meaningful way. ActiveCampaign and Lifter go hand in hand very well.

The course is I started at Teachable and Teachable isn’t bad. But it just isn’t as dynamic as it could be. But I wanted to start off with something… I didn’t want to invest in a whole bunch of different stuff on a concept that really wasn’t proven, not enough for me. Teachable was good, but at the time, their formatting was kind of clunky. It worked. It got me by, but I couldn’t tailor the user experience. User experience to me is everything.

When you get a first class plane ticket somewhere, and you get treated so nicely, especially if you’ve never done it before, it’s really, really nice. It’s an experience that you remember. You go to a nice restaurant, it’s an experience that you remember. You’re not really paying for the steak, you’re paying for the experience. I want the same thing at my websites.

Chris Badgett:

I think you and I know this as guides, that’s everything, it’s the experience the client has, that, that is the product, right?

Devin Denman:

It is. To expound on that, because I want people to know how important that is. For a lot of guys, we go out and go fishing, and we’re in our own little miniature fishing tournament with other guys, which is not healthy, because then it turns into who can catch the most fish as opposed to how can I make sure my customers have a good time?

Chris Badgett:

To [inaudible 00:25:42] with my customers.

Devin Denman:

There’s a mentality here in Louisiana where you have to limit out on fish. Meaning, if you have three people in the boat, and the limit for speckled trout for each person each day is 25, you need to come back to the dock with 75. You come back to the dock with 74, you’re a loser, which is not the way to look at it. This whole story is not as simple as just, oh, there’s this beautiful transition into teaching inshore fishing. Hell no man, I started out with a security company here in Louisiana. To say that I got my ass kicked would be an understatement. There’s a lot of things I could have gone about better because that company crashed and burned while I was working on Louisiana Fishing Blog, and what would ultimately turn into my university, my courses powered by LifterLMS, LAFB Elite, I worked at a swamp tour, running airboats and taking people out to go look at alligators and stuff.

Each little swamp tour, it lasts like an hour, 45 minutes. It was like a miniature fishing trip and that I could get them out there, put them on experience, learn from that trip, come back, pick up the next boatload of people, go back and go on a better one based on the lessons learned before.

Chris Badgett:

You’re constantly improving it.

Devin Denman:

Yes, and I loved it. I’ve worked at… I didn’t own the swamp tour, I worked at it, and it was a fun job, Chris, it really was. But there’s this guy I learned an important lesson from, and he was probably about my age, maybe a little bit older, and he is this very lively, born and raised on the bayou, Creole guy, who as soon as you walk in the room and he’s there, you got to have comebacks because he’s going to start lighting up over something or another.

He would always come back to the dock with his customers just covered in grass and mud and filth, and they had huge smiles on their face. I’m thinking, what is that man doing out there? What he would do is he’d drive his airboat out somewhere and it would get stuck, and then he would have them jump out and push the airboat out, the whole time while he’s just flinging mud and crap all over the place.

A lot of this marsh, you’ll sink up to your waist. It’s like a weird kind of bog, right? Then they get the boat out and they all get back in the boat and go back and they went on… In their minds, they went on an adventure, they saved the day. It was like the fourth time he’s done it that day. I learned from them like, ah, okay, it’s all about the experience, it isn’t about did you put them on a big alligator or whatever? Because he could be the most boring guy in the world, you can get the world’s worst swamp tour, and still… Even if you have like a 14 foot alligator come to the boat or something, it can still be not the best experience it could be because you didn’t make it an experience.

That is what I remember with LAFB Elite., everything’s got to jive. When the welcome email goes out, and not that LAFB Elite is this perfect, lubricated working machine, it’s not the frickin Manhattan Project or something, but it’s a lot better than what it used to be. I’ve been through a few LMS and for my courses, LifterLMS is where it’s at.

I think that’s because of the way it’s structured and organized, because a lot of things tend to be pretty clunky and you can’t really tell where it’s at. To me, good software should be intuitive, especially in this day and age, it should be intuitive, and LifterLMS has that, but it’s not rigidly set in a certain way so that you can’t customize it. Because we’ve used WP Fusion and we’re fixing to use a lot more tags with WP Fusion just, again, more customize the user experience to try and get someone’s not a paying customer yet, to try and get them down the funnel to see the value in becoming a paying customer.

This is very, very important to me, because within the realm of fishing, if you needed to buy a boat, you would go to a boat dealer. If you needed to get live bait, you would go to the Marina, if you need to get tackle, you’ll go to the tackle store, but where do you go if you don’t know what you’re doing? It’s a weird animal, because you could say, oh, well, we would read Louisiana Sportsman Magazine, or we could go with a guide. But you go with a guide, you’re just going to learn that day and-

Chris Badgett:

Super expensive.

Devin Denman:

Yeah, $600 plus is what you’re looking at. He’s not empowering you with the knowledge that you need so you can strike out on your own. I have to… I’m at the disadvantage where I have to educate people on what it is that I can provide for them, and I have to prove it works. Because a lot of people tell me, after the dust has settled, and I got them sitting down and I’m getting feedback, they’re like, “I thought it was a gimmick.” Because there are so many gimmicks in the fishing world. There’s so much totally made up crap out there. A lot of the old… I called it the old guards, like the old magazines and whatnot.

Well, Chris, in this day and age, if I want to make content, I want to be a content creator. I don’t need them. They’re not gatekeepers anymore. I want a TV show, I can start one tomorrow on YouTube. I can start one today. I got a camera, I have internet access. I want to become a writer, not a problem, you can do that today. There’s all kinds of different places you can write and guest posts and podcasts and so on and so forth. The people they do have writing content for them now, these magazines used to be like this thick, and now they’re nothing.

Chris Badgett:

Mostly ads, probably.

Devin Denman:

It is, that’s absolutely the case. A lot of people they have writing for them really, I want to call them subject matter experts. But the content could be better.

Chris Badgett:

Let me ask you a question about your funnel and then the courses themselves. You have Inshore Fishing 101 as of this recording, Inshore Fishing 201 and then you have something called Site Fishing Mastery School.

Devin Denman:

Yes, sir.

Chris Badgett:

This is the courses inside the LMS, but then you’ve got this YouTube and you’ve got the blog. What is your funnel like? What does it look like? How has it evolved?

Devin Denman:

Okay. For just clarification, there are 68 published courses. Because I like to spy on other websites that use LifterLMS, just to see how they’re doing things.

Chris Badgett:

Nice. Yeah.

Devin Denman:

I see a lot of them just have a handful of courses, and I’m like, okay, there’s just not… The best place I’ve gone to, to look for examples on how to structure content and how things should look across different devices is actually the LifterLMS Academy. That’s a good one that people can be referred to there. Okay, you were asking… To go back to the original question, you were asking, how do I funnel people into these courses?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Devin Denman:

Okay. I’ve tried a lot of different things, and I’m always experimenting. I did the whole building an audience on social media using fishing pictures would be one.

Chris Badgett:

Do you have an Instagram, is that what you mean?

Devin Denman:

Yes. But I think that’s more of a brand awareness thing. Just saying like, hey, I’m here, I’m not dead. But it’s not really good for conversions, because, Chris, if something is not worth my time or dollar, I’m not going to do it. I’m 35, not 25, and I know someone who’s 45 or 55 will laugh at me for saying that. But time is the most valuable thing you got. I don’t want to spend it tinkering around with something on Instagram when I could be playing with my boys, or taking my daughter out fishing or something like that.

The thing… I think what works best changes over time, but what I want to do is get their email address as soon as possible. I also want to demonstrate that I am a subject matter expert, and that I can catch fish in all conditions, that I won’t get skunked and I’ll limit out or catch a good box or whatever. Probably, the thing, just to cut to the chase, the thing that’s worked the best is the YouTube channel.

Chris Badgett:

I just want to provide some color here. I’m looking at your YouTube channel right now, two months ago, you did a video called Catching Speckled Trout at the Great Wall of Chalmette-

Devin Denman:

Chalmette.

Chris Badgett:

Chalmette, and that video has over 10,000 views in two months. That’s a lot.

Devin Denman:

It’s not bad. Then we go to this big flood wall that was built after Hurricane Katrina, and it’s a place where fish like to hang out during the winter time. We were going… It wasn’t winter yet, I think it was like October 6, and we were just checking to see if any fish were in yet. There were, we didn’t crush them, but we caught 29. So, it was good.

But I think what made that video good as opposed to other videos, where I absolutely demolish the fish is this goes back to the whole experience thing is that, I think people… It’s an obviously, for around here, is an easily recognized and obvious fishing spot that everyone fishes. I would refer to it as being like a community honey hole. Everyone goes there when the fish turns on, and you’ll catch a few if anything.

I also think the way it was edited and the way the story fleshed out, I think people enjoyed that. I think storytelling is very powerful. I actually have it on my screensaver and on a piece of paper on my office door. So, I see it every day, remind me, hey, tell a story. That’s something people can relate with. If you just go out there and make a montage of, I’m so cool, this is me catching all these fish, people, they don’t want that. They want to get some value out of it, too.

In those videos, I put fishing tips. I also, at the same time, talk about LAFB Elite, and probably a really good example of that would be a video called Crushing Speckled Trout at the Rock Dam. It’s my buddy, Brad, holding up a speckled trout, and you can see the rock dam in the background. It says rock dam on the thumbnail. But after this flurry of fish, where we’re just catching a whole bunch of them, I do a pretty smooth transition into selling LAFB Elite. Because if you just start-

Chris Badgett:

So, you have a call to action at the end of the video. Is that what you mean?

Devin Denman:

Definitely at the end, but also it’s mixed in. Like, hey, there’s this thing that I’m doing, and maybe I’m just going to show it to you, show a little portion of it here. Here’s a small tip on how to do that. But I can’t teach you the whole thing because that would require an entire course that I have called Elements of Effective Fishing, or Fall Fish Location, Winter Fishing Success.

I have free courses that I cart people to that they’ll sign up for so they can get a taste of what it’s like. Because remember, this whole concept of learning how to fish online is so new. When my girlfriend tries to explain it, and she’s getting your hair done, the hairdresser is like, “He just what? When does he take them out of the water?” She’s like, “Oh, he doesn’t take them out of water.” They just can’t wrack their head around it. I have those free courses there, where they can go and they can get a taste of it and see what it’s like.

Chris Badgett:

You’re using free courses to generate users on your LMS.

Devin Denman:

Yes, and train them to get them used to it too. Because a lot of my paid audience, they’re older. They didn’t grow up making GeoCities websites, man-

Chris Badgett:

They’re less technical. This is a common issue with people who build these sites, they realize, they end up in my shoes where people less technical are using it. How do you help make sure their experience is good? They’re not as big of a nerd as you. So, how do you solve that?

Devin Denman:

What I would love to do and I have not done yet is make an awesome knowledge base like LifterLMS’ knowledge base. That is the good of the knowledge base before I email you.

Chris Badgett:

That gets built article by article based on common questions. All right, we’ve gotten this question 10 times, it’s time to build a knowledge base article about that or whatever.

Devin Denman:

Okay, good to know. I want to make something like that for LAFB Elite, but for now, I have a video that they are sent to after check out, that gives them a tour of the website-

Chris Badgett:

That’s super smart. It’s an onboarding, like hey, this is how to use the website. People forget, you get used to it, you’re building it all the time, you know what WordPress is, whatever.

Devin Denman:

I also make it very clear to use customer support. I handle all customer support still. I have not found a good… Not yet, anyway, or more like I haven’t found a good way to handle customer support where I feel comfortable with my VA taking it over. But I handle all of them very hands on with it and I make it clear, this is your safety net. No matter what happens, you can email through here-

Chris Badgett:

Just reach out.

Devin Denman:

Just hit the Reply button, and I’ll get you taken care of. Otherwise, you got people who are private messaging my personal Facebook. I don’t use Facebook, I just have it for the business. The personal Facebook exists because it’s an administrator account. That’s strictly, that’s it. Maybe every once in a while I’ll check those private messages and just [inaudible 00:40:53] hey, I need to reset my password. I’m like, ah, because I feel bad because I want them to be taken care of.

But basically providing that safety net, onboarding them in the best way possible, and then creating that safety net. Hey, just email me, I’ll get you taken care of, because-

Chris Badgett:

What are some YouTube tips you have? I’m looking at approximately 70 videos over the course of three years, which is not daily, you’re not a daily YouTuber. Just give us some tips if somebody wants to start building an audience on YouTube and use that to help people build authority and to help people just add value for free and then ultimately get a few paying customers off that, what would you advise?

Devin Denman:

Okay. There’s, what do you say, 70 or something like that videos, but there’s actually… I’m trying to pull it up right now, if this will load. I want to say there’s actually 300-

Chris Badgett:

Oh, nice.

Devin Denman:

But a lot of them-

Chris Badgett:

By the way, are you just shooting these on your iPhone or your camera or whatever, or do you have fancy video gear?

Devin Denman:

Pretty much, I have fancy video gear now. Yeah. I’ve tried a lot of different things in terms of content creation, to turn people on towards what it is that I do. I had The Weekend Fishing Forecast. But there’s that small… I’m always battling between the 1000 faithful followers, and then just getting a million. It’s very easy to get sidetracked with, oh, I want to be a YouTuber, essentially.

Chris Badgett:

Vanity metrics.

Devin Denman:

I use that all the time. I’m like, okay, let’s talk paying customers, all right? Because that’s what counts. I tried a bunch of different things on YouTube, one of them being The Weekend Fishing Forecast, and that didn’t really work out that well. I think what works better is the fishing videos we talked about. I am starting a Tackle Tuesday, where I give some tackle tips, and then a weekly Q&A, where I take people’s question and answer.

YouTube is a platform that I’m comfortable with building. I’m comfortable with putting calls to action there to like, to subscribe and doing all that cheesy YouTuber stuff. Because you make a content for Facebook, people are like, oh, this is great content. Well, we’re going to throttle that reach. You might want to get some ads in there going, buddy, but YouTube will be like, “Hey, good job. Thank you. This will keep people on YouTube. We’ll show it to more people, and by the way, here’s a little bit of money.”

Which I don’t even have ads on for my stuff, because I don’t want people to become distracted, I want them to listen to the calls to action that I have in there. At the end of the day, the focus isn’t playing an algorithm or anything like that, it is making good content. I do look at YouTube Analytics, so I know what people like and don’t like. So, I focus more on what they like and less on what they don’t like.

There’s a certain kind of music or editing style or camera shot they don’t like, it’s pretty obvious after doing that of five videos that the average of was a viewer retention, relative viewer retention, whatever it’s called, drops off. Okay, all right, we don’t do that anymore. But YouTube has been the best by far. I’m practically looking for a reason right now… I’ll put it this way, I was using Meet Edgar and Buffer for posting to social media, and I just got rid of them.

I planned on getting rid of them anyway, but my girlfriend’s truck was just stolen out of our driveway. Chris, I went on my morning walk and I walked outside, I’m like, “Where the hell is her truck at?”

Chris Badgett:

Did this happen today?

Devin Denman:

No. This happened last week.

Chris Badgett:

Okay, I’m sorry to hear that.

Devin Denman:

Dude. Well, that’s what insurance is for, man. But it felt like our kids’ stuff was in it too. That’s a whole long convoluted thing. But… Where the hell was I going with this?

Chris Badgett:

You were talking about how YouTube, you got rid of Meet Edgar and-

Devin Denman:

Yeah. I got rid of them. Just because I’m like, okay, now I have all this extra stuff I got to buy now. But at the same time, I really wasn’t, because I had looked at Google Analytics, man, and I have to see, they have to justify their existence. Otherwise, if people don’t see me on Facebook or Instagram, I don’t care. Or I’ll just post, “Hey, this is our new YouTube video. This is our new course that’s coming out.” If just a handful of people see it, that’s great anyway, then I won’t… Maybe they’ll get the message, and they’ll come up with a better way for content creators and for businesses that have a meaningful presence without having to use an ad spend to test with.

I don’t mind using an ad spend, but I just hate like, “There’s this one a few thousand dollars and it didn’t… ” I’m not a huge fan of that. With that said, I know Russ Ruffino talks a whole lot about it. I did not finish that podcast, and I plan on that, because I do like the idea of going straight to people.

Chris Badgett:

Well, some people have different engines of growth. You’re more of an organic content person, which is what I’m like. This podcast, I’m not going to run any ads to it or whatever. But some people do all these relationship, partnership deals and stuff. It just depends. Everybody has their superpower. But for you, it’s probably YouTube.

Devin Denman:

Within inshore fishing, people like to share fishing reports to be like, hey, my kid caught this big black drum today, or maybe they just want to help people so people have an idea as to what the fish are doing and where it is they need to go to capsulize, they can catch something and have a good time. I have a fishing report group called LAFB Inshore, it’s a Facebook group. IT has 17,000 people in it.

Chris Badgett:

Wow.

Devin Denman:

Yes.

Chris Badgett:

You’re building community too, not just a YouTube channel-

Devin Denman:

Yes.

Chris Badgett:

… you’re building Facebook groups, that’s awesome.

Devin Denman:

The Facebook group is money, the Facebook page, absolutely… But the Facebook group is awesome. I think that’s just because that’s how the inshore fishing community has always been. I just put a place for it to be, and we moderate the content. You have people go in there and say snide things about someone’s catch, or they’re being a smartass about something-

Chris Badgett:

You keep the quality up.

Devin Denman:

Yeah, we get rid of the smart outlets, and we promote a good environment. If someone is just asking for handouts, and they don’t ever post fishing reports, because we’ll look, then we’ll just mute them, or we’ll tell them, “Hey, man, when you went fishing, why did it… You’ve always been asking for help for the two years you’ve been here, when are you going to help out? When are you going to return that? When are you going to give back to the community?”

People like that, because it sets a standard. I think a lot of fishing report groups out there on Facebook are just a circus, just a free for all.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome.

Devin Denman:

What I do now, is we have member approval setups. Admins have to approve them. This might be a good tip for people. If you’re listening now, and your niche is something like mine, where people have a community that they actively participate in, what I do is I use a Chrome extension called Group Leads. What it does is we require people to agree to our rules and fork over an email address. When using Group Leads, when you approve that person that has their email address as an answer to that question, “Hey, we need your email address because we’re trying to cut down on spam,” which we are. There’s tons of spam accounts. When I say that there’s 17,000 people in there, that needs to be 17,000 people who like inshore fishing, all right?

If it’s just… We all know the spam accounts I’m talking about. You see them, so we get rid of that, we’re able to decline them there. I found that typically anybody who’s willing to supply an email address is going to be a better participant as opposed to somebody who is going to leave a snide remark and the answer box for the question asking, hey, provide your email address.

We’re able to create a better community, that way people are constantly going there, and they’re looking to see what’s in the group. I’ll post my videos there, I’ll post anything relating to my courses there. I’ve tons of free resources, and I might see that, hey, somebody got stuck out there in the marsh. The Louisiana marsh is … I’ve been to Maine. You live in Maine, correct?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah.

Devin Denman:

Okay, I’ve been to Maine. I went up to Rangeley for SERE School. Maine’s beautiful, and it’s a big, wild wilderness. Louisiana is the same way except is this giant prairie. It’s the marsh and it’s just grass of water with different bayou, lagoons and bays as far as the eye can see. You can spend a lifetime fishing Louisiana and never fish at all.

It’s all shallow and deep, and then you have the Mississippi River, which still builds lands and changes the shape of the coast of Louisiana. There’s a video on my YouTube where I got stuck on a sandbar, I just ran aground and just inches of water, and there’s a hard bottom, and the Mississippi River built that land. I needed an airboat to come get me out. The airboat almost got stuck trying to get me out. There’s a guy that got stuck the other day and I was like, “Well, I have a course called Advanced Inshore Navigation, that details how you can use Google Earth Pro, and other satellite imagery to locate navigable water to detect, to identify shallow water and other navigational hazards and you can avoid them.

I have a few case studies that I made for my own experiences where down in Venice, Louisiana, which is like at the mouth of the river, at the bird foot of the river. I ended up ripping off the bottom of my lower unit when I ran over a rock pile. The irony here is that if I did my homework that I asked people to do for themselves in Inshore Fishing 101, I would have seen that rock pile that was just inches below the water, and I would have missed it, and I wouldn’t have had to go through the big ordeal that we went through that day.

Pretty much all of my problems that I’ve ever had navigationally could have been prevented if I just did what it is I asked people to do. It goes to show that experiences is still king at times. We have the Facebook group. YouTube has absolutely been awesome. I love YouTube and I got more camera equipment. Before I was running some old GoPro Hero3s that I had hooked up to the house battery on the boat, so I don’t have to worry about batteries. Just put a big 128 gig SD card in there, and I would film the whole trip.

That was actually a product in LAFB Elite, that’s where that started at. I would film the whole trip and then upload that whole trip to LAFB Elite. There’s a video that’s made before that, and it’s the planning video where I do a Zoom cast, like right now. It’s just a screen recording. I use ScreenFlow. Use a bunch of different things, ScreenFlow for Mac is just awesome, works best.

I go over all the conditions, all the predicted conditions and how it is I’m going to decide where it is I’m going to fish, what I’m going to do based upon that. So, customers of LAFB Elite can get inside my head and see my reasoning for things.

All of this is already fleshed out in my courses. But this is real world specific conditions. This is me proving, all right guys, this is… Because people tell me, oh yeah, sure, I took everything in Inshore Fishing 101, and then I’ll just go look at the progress inside in LifterLMS so you can see everything they’ve taken. And I’m like, “No, you did not.” People skip lessons. I ask people, don’t do that. Because if you’re there to learn something, why would you skip over anything that you would need to learn?

Chris Badgett:

I do got to wrap it up, I got some I got to jump to, but I wanted to-

Devin Denman:

It was 10:30, okay.

Chris Badgett:

… I wanted to ask you just one thing real quick before we go. First of all, thank you for telling your story. It’s so cool to see what you’ve been able to build and learn how you transitioned into all this. Just real briefly if you could give somebody one little nugget of advice if they’re thinking of switching from something like Teachable to WordPress and LifterLMS, what would you advise them?

Devin Denman:

I would advise them to… You want to find a way you can make good content fast, and that’s why I was using ScreenFlow. I have a Logitech… I don’t remember what it is, like a C930 something, that I have set up here. [inaudible 00:54:42] GoPros for recording out on the boat, and I also use a Canon Mirrorless M50 that I use as well. If you’re looking for ways to do good storytelling, and good cinematography, I would advise watching Casey Neistat on YouTube and see some of the resources he has there and he’ll be able to point you in a good direction.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Well Devin, he’s at lafbelite.com. Thank you for coming on the show. Thank you for being a shining example of somebody who has certainly pursued their passion, figured out how to do content creation, and figured out a way to monetize that and also just add incredible value to people who share the same interest in your area. It’s a great story. Thanks so much for coming on the show. We really appreciate it.

Devin Denman:

Thank you, Chris. Hey, thanks for having me. If anybody ever has any questions they want to reach out, you can reach me at [email protected]

Chris Badgett:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much.

Devin Denman:

Thank you, Chris. You take care.

Chris Badgett:

That’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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