Mar 25, 2024
43 min
Episode 4

BREAK THE INTERNET: Neil Patel: The Blueprint for Viral Success

Neil Patel  00:00

A lot of times what you think will do well does not do well and vice versa. That's why you have to tech. It's too hard to predict the hit and the misses.

Ben Kaplan  00:09

This is the show about the people who create, amplify and influence our culture and how they do it. Want to capture lightning in the bottle? want your content to spread like wildfire? I'm Ben Kaplan, and let's Break The Internet.

Tom Cain  00:28

In today's episode of Break The Internet, we're sitting down with Neil Patel, a key figure in online marketing who's turned the complex world of digital strategy into accessible actionable advice. Mr. Neil Patel, how you doing?

Neil Patel  00:40

Hey, everyone, it's Neil Patel here.

Tom Cain  00:42

Neil's not just about the big ideas. He's in the trenches with us sharing the hows and whys of content that clicks and marketing hacks that truly move the needle. I'm going


to teach you how to get a lot of traffic to your website or the results from a new Marquis strategy I've been using over the last three months. It took me 18 years to learn this and I'll teach you it in less than one minute. No matter what your company is or what it does. Here's how to rank number one on Google in seven steps. From

Tom Cain  01:07

founding his first website as a teenager to creating essential marketing tools like Crazy Egg Neil's journey is filled with lessons on growing channels from the ground up. He's here to talk about his daily content creation routine, breaking down his approach to viral marketing and give us a peek into the strategies that have helped him and his followers succeed.

Ben Kaplan  01:28

Welcome to Break The Internet. I'm chatting with Neil Patel. He's a digital marketing expert. As far as I can remember, Neil, you've been doing this as long as I know anyone doing this before it was even a thing to be a content creator and marketing or an influencer or a thought leader, you're known for showing up all over the place. First of all, do people recognize you out and about beyond the internet, because your face is ubiquitous. If you're learning about marketing, depends what

Neil Patel  01:54

city I'm in. If I'm in San Francisco, California, there's a good chance if I'm in klimax, springs, Missouri, there's a very, very low chance is actually not even a low chance. It's pretty much zero. A lot. You know, the last time I was in Klamath springs, I took a picture at a cattle auction. And I'm not saying I condone cattle auctions or not. I was just sort of there because it was like, oh, you should check out a cattle auction. My father in law took me to one. Yeah, he's a cattle rancher. And then I posted on Instagram or somewhere like that. someone's like, Oh, I'm 40 minutes away, we should meet up, right? So but it's unlikely that someone on the street would say, hey, Neil, what's up? How are you? Can we take a picture, and it's not gonna happen in random remote locations.

Ben Kaplan  02:41

But in the world of marketing, you're well known. And it's in particular for really like your video content, your blog content, I think you've been a content creator for, gosh, at least a decade. And just to give a sense for the audience. I mean, you have 1.2 million followers on YouTube, over half a million on Instagram, over a million on Facebook, close to half a million on X, you're in the hundreds of 1000s on tick tock. That's remarkable, because usually people don't think like marketing content or flight for a business purpose, or entrepreneurs has really huge audiences outside of maybe like Gary Vee, but besides, some people don't think that. So how did you come to grow these audiences? And how did you realize this was going to be an avenue that you were going to be a leader in,

Neil Patel  03:31

I didn't know I was going to be a leader. There's many leaders in the category. I didn't think I was gonna have a ton of followers or anything like that. It just happened not overnight. But it happened from doing this for more than 10 years, you know, I've been in this space, actually, for around 22 years coming up on 23 years. That's a long time, right? So when you put it from that perspective, just creating content and putting it out there over time, you get more followers and people learning from you. And you built up some sort of an audience. It wasn't intentional, I started creating the content, putting all this stuff out there. Because back in the day, I was trying to generate business, and I couldn't afford paid ads. So it was the this was the alternative. And that's how it ended up happening.

Ben Kaplan  04:12

What year was it when you start creating your first content? And was that more blog content back then? Was it more written content? Or what was like the early days of content for you?

Neil Patel  04:21

Maybe 2005.

Ben Kaplan  04:23

So this is pre dating a lot of like social media marketing, you're probably doing a lot of written content on blogs. Was it SEO focused, meaning you want to rank high in Google search engines? Was that the intent?

Neil Patel  04:37

Correct? Yes. Because back then, you know, when I got started, the main social network was MySpace, and then eventually became Facebook. But the way it all happened was the one thing that was consistent was oh, wow, people use search engines. At the time, Google Yahoo. Bing wasn't around MSN was asked Jeeves, AltaVista, Lycos, etc.

Ben Kaplan  04:58

And then What was the first like hits that you remember? You had something where you said, like, wow, I can actually get a big audience. I didn't pay for an ad for that. Since you were trying to drive your sort of marketing business. What was something that you did blew you away in those early days?

Neil Patel  05:14

Sure. So it was predating actually content creation. So my first website that I ever created years and years ago, was a job website that helped people find jobs, and I couldn't afford paid ads. So I did this thing called SEO. So learned it started getting traffic. The job was I didn't get a ton of traffic, it peaked around 60,000 visitors a month. And keep in mind back then not as many people use the internet as well. But 6000 visitors a month isn't bad, even in today's world, right? And I was like, huh, I can actually do wonders with this SEO thing, not necessarily by creating content around SEO, just in general driving traffic through SEO. That was a real start for me. Okay, so

Ben Kaplan  05:53

you started doing that? At what point? Did you kind of shift into more of like the video model? I mean, I think you still do you still have a big audience for your blog and all that. But you know, the fact that you're over 1.2 million on YouTube, the fact that I think some of your best performing videos that I see here, you have SEO for beginners, three powerful SEO tips to rank number one on Google still works and 2023 at the end of the title, or how to write a blog post from start to finish 1.5 million views? When did it start changing into this type of content and more of a video delivery?

Neil Patel  06:23

Sure. So that change probably happened around seven, eight years ago, we were seeing video up and coming but not a ton of people leveraging and we're like, huh, we should probably leverage video, we already create the blog content, let's just read the blog content in a format that works for video. So you're just using the same stuff. And you're scripting it out a little bit. And that was it. And we barely got any views, did it for a few years and really started getting views and people really catching on on video. And I was early on to it. I wasn't as early to the short form videos, but I was really early on until the longer form. Okay,

Ben Kaplan  06:58

so these are talking like long form how to YouTube videos. You were doing that seven, eight years ago? And it seems like you know, there are some people we've had on the show that are like, wow, it's like in two or three months, they catch on in a certain niche, they have an audience and explodes for you. I mean, you've been doing this for like over two decades. Really? What made you stick with things? Was it just that you had seen results in another context before? And I'm just gonna stick with it? What made you when people watching and listening might get discouraged and say like, Oh, if I'm not, you know, suddenly, Jake, Paul, then it's not worth it for me to keep doing it. What made you kind of stick with it and more of like a slower growth in a field that's known for like meteoric growth. Yeah,

Neil Patel  07:39

so I stuck with it, mainly because I loved it. And I still do love it. That's why I create the content. And the second reason was, is it was helping generate income, the income wasn't as direct as one may think. So it wasn't like someone was coming in saying, hey, I want to hire you for consulting. It was more so Hey, Neil, could you speak at this event, love your content online, we'll pay you 50 grand for a speech, I was like, huh, one hour speech 50 grand, not bad. And then I started doing more of it. And then I was making seven figures a year, not a big seven figures. But I was making like a million to $2 million a year just speaking. And I was like, This isn't bad. I could just do this for a living if I really wanted to a lot of it came from content creation.

Ben Kaplan  08:19

I see. So for you, it was less about some people that would like monetize this directly. Like they can say, Oh, I'm doing an affiliate marketing thing. I post this piece of content. We had someone on the show recently, who was a travel influencer, they post a piece of content, they make travel recommendations, they can see conversions of affiliate marketing. In this case, it was much more about establishing you as a thought leadership, a little bit of a less direct connection to revenue. But once you're a thought leader, then there's other opportunities that come your way, namely speaking, yeah,

Neil Patel  08:48

got a half a million dollar advance for a book back in the day speaking gigs built up enough thought leadership where I was getting consulting contracts, it worked out quite well could always work out better. But the point I'm getting at is like the model works. It's just patience is what people really need.

Ben Kaplan  09:05

And do you think that sometimes as we look and more people want to grow fast, and their followers and their fans and their reach? Do you think that sometimes we just go for the vanity type metrics of like, Hey, I got like a big number of followers where in this case, it sounds like you would maybe like, hey, even if I didn't have as many fans or followers on this piece of content, if it was the right audience, if it's the audience, that's going to get me that book advanced, it can be smaller, but it has meaning in a different way. So the metrics you would use will be different because you were driving business results.

Neil Patel  09:38

Correct. But what's funny is I wasn't even really tracking the metrics. I was just creating content based on what I thought people wanted to learn and what would be fun, had nothing to do with what were the metrics, what's the ROI? You know, I was a big believer that if you educate and you help people out great, you know, you're helping other people out and whatever happens after it happens after I wasn't really looking for revenue when I started doing all of this, I started creating content for two purposes. One really back in the day to get customers as we were getting customers, because one of my first earlier businesses, not my first, but one of my earlier businesses was an ad agency. And I was getting customers from it. The second reason was really the passion. I love doing it. I love helping, I don't care how much it made or didn't make. As long as my bills were paid. I was happy doing I thought it was the funnest thing in the world. I'm like, wait, I don't have to go into office. I'm making enough income and I get to create content. This is a good living. What

Ben Kaplan  10:33

have you learned that does really well, I know, we've chatted before and you kind of say you like to break expectations or do something kind of contrarian? Is that part of the Neil Patel formula? How does that work? So check

Neil Patel  10:45

this out. Whenever I post content that's contradictory to what most people think it does really well. For example, one of my latest tweets alternative to short form video that did really well was I started off where as I said, I used to fly on private planes due to convenience. But one day, I realized I could have changed someone's life with that money without adding much inconvenience to my life. I used to like nice, large homes, I had one even broke straight record when I sold it. But I would rarely see my kids in my own house. Hence I sold it. I used to want fancy cars when I was younger, bought a few. But none was great as my Honda Odyssey, especially when you have kids, I used to buy fancy watches. And now I rarely ever wear any of them. And then I go on and how people go through different phases in life and what I learned and what I optimizes for what makes me happy and content in life. But if you think about how I started it off, it's very contradictory to how most people want to live. People want private planes, people want Ferraris and nice cars, people want big lavish homes, my wife and I downsize to 3000 square feet. You know, we've had homes as big as 10,000 something square feet that we're living in with four of us to now my wife and I are in a 3000 square foot condo, which we find is big enough, more than big enough. And you know this, the way they designed the condo, the floor plan isn't the best. But you know, like, they didn't put a laundry room. So we iron our clothes in the hallway. And it works out. And we're happy with it.

Ben Kaplan  12:20

So you think that notion of something that is, I guess, surprising to people? And I don't know, Is it surprising because it gets attention that you have a better hook isn't surprising, just because if you're saying what everyone else is saying, then why would they need to listen to you? They could just hear it from someone else. Why do you think that sort of like contradictory approach works is

Neil Patel  12:40

because it's goes against the grain. So it hooks them in and it keeps them engaged where they keep reading, it really comes down to the hook. But you have to end up showcasing stuff people aren't expecting, you know, a great example of this is I created a piece of social condos, here's the ideal content, like for each social network, you're not going to like the Facebook data, right? And then I ended up breaking down the Facebook data. And that did really, really well. So it's like just going against the grain I've just found works well. And it probably works. One of the better strategies that I see for social media marketing, assuming it's true. So when I go against the grain, I showcase data to prove my point,

Ben Kaplan  13:22

how are you adapting it or optimizing it when you have an idea, you want to put this out there. And I've noticed like for instance, I watched your kind of SEO for beginners, three powerful SEO Tips ranked number one on google and one of things I noticed is you come out right out and you say this, and I don't know if this is part of your planning for this, or this is just your instinctual but you say if you don't watch this entire video to the end, you're not going to rank number one on Google, you say that up front, which sounds, you know, a little self serving in the sense that like, Okay, if you get like people watching that whole video on YouTube, it's going to perform better. But you do that right up front was that by design? Why is that in there? Do you recommend people talk to their audience in that way, so

Neil Patel  14:03

one of those by design, because if you can get the engagement and the retention for people watching your content, it's going to do better to you need to make sure content delivers. It has a million views or whatever number you said, because the content delivers. If it didn't, you would have five views, 10 views, 5000 views, whatever the number is, so you got to hook people you got to keep their attention and you got to make sure content delivers because if it doesn't, they won't keep coming back.

Ben Kaplan  14:30

And this is like it's a nine plus minute video. What do you do to keep them in that because I know a lot of people to who and I know people who are prolific it like some people are just like great in short form video, and they are just gonna struggle at long form video and I know the opposite was like some people like long form video and there was like yeah, for some reason I try to do a 10 second video it just doesn't work. So for those who don't know how to do a long form video, how do you keep someone for nine minutes a lot of people might say hey, that's too long a video, Neil. You got to shorten that down. Good

Neil Patel  15:00

info and storytelling, those two things can really help. But the biggest key is good info.

Ben Kaplan  15:05

But then how do you avoid like the law? Like, you could have gotten through the whole thing, but like, you know, I'm at minute four, Neil's told me a bunch of good stuff about marketing tips. And, you know, I already know this fifth point he's made right here. I already do that every day. I'm just gonna go do something else. How do you avoid someone leaving at that point, even if all the info is good, you can't

Neil Patel  15:24

get everyone to stick around for the whole thing. But if your info is really, really good, I'm not just talking about like, yeah, I learned something like really, really good, where it changed their opinion, or they're just like, wow, I never thought about it this way. This is why XY and Z is not working out for me, you're more likely to keep people longer, like you gotta go above and beyond. And what I like telling people is there's a lot of good social content majority of it gets a little to no views. It's the point oh, 1%. That's really getting all the engagement. What are you doing that makes you stand out. And there is no formula for that for me to tell you. If you do this, you will get the most amount of reach a lot of it's random and luck. For example, someone longboarding to work because their car didn't work. And they're drinking cranberry juice, all of a sudden.

Ben Kaplan  16:17

drinking the juice going around and join his day that strikes gold strikes gold, it's too

Neil Patel  16:21

hard to plan those kinds of things out a lot of it is random. And what really made us successful is people thought that was funny. Not the car breaking down. But the cranberry juice. So they all started longboarding and drinking cranberry juice because they go this is chill. This is cool. And it just created a trend. Same thing with like, ALS ice bucket challenge, I think it was called ALS. Sure yeah, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Notice lots of ice don't cheese out. is refreshing everyone to get involved. No one heard of the ALS before this right? majority people. Heck, even after the Ice Bucket Challenge. A lot of people didn't know what it was, but they knew the Ice Bucket Challenge was and just some things catch on some things don't if you

Ben Kaplan  17:04

had this choice now would you rather be like prolific in quantity? And you're gonna create a lot of stuff? And it's going to be kind of hit or miss and some stuffs gonna catch on or not? Or do you try to like, plan more things out and try to get your quality over quantity? What are you? Are you a quantity over quality or quality over quantity? Guy?

Neil Patel  17:23

No, no, no, I used to have the philosophy of just crank out quantity and whatever hits hits. But I had to adapt over the years because social networks started getting a lot of content. And they have this thing now where if you put out a lot of junk content, it hurts your channel, and it makes it hard to get more traffic in the future. So now you have to focus on quality. And when I post social content, I use a framework of tests on x first, because x isn't penalized if you put out a lot of junk content, you then take your winners and you turn them into short form videos. And then you can take the winners of the short form and make them long form and blog posts and webinars. But I use x as my testing bet a create a short form video based on what works on x. And then I put that out on the rest of the social web.

Ben Kaplan  18:06

to kind of summarize what you're saying you're saying is that because social networks have adapted, and they'll like penalize you for getting content that doesn't have reach, you don't want to just put so much out. In fact, you want to like on those kinds of platforms concentrate your best stuff. And so you're going to use other platforms as a way to sort of figure out what are your hits?

Neil Patel  18:25

Bingo, you

Ben Kaplan  18:26

got to write and then how do you do that? Because I think X is something formerly Twitter that some people in certain fields, it does great, right? And it's like kind of news driven, and it's more timely. And it's like the town hall of the internet. And some people like struggle on it. How do you get started on next. And maybe you want to correct my statement there. If you think X is different than I've characterized, I think

Neil Patel  18:46

that's what x is known for. But there's a ton of humor based content, and just random stuff that does extremely well on X, use it as a testing bed. And if you don't have tons of followers, ads on extra dirt cheap, so you can use a little bit ad money. 1015 bucks goes a long way. If you

Ben Kaplan  19:03

would say then that x is something that should be in everyone's toolkit, like it's just a good testing ground for that no matter what your content is, do you recommend that?

Neil Patel  19:12

I do. And to be super clear, I recommend testing on X before the other social platforms,

Ben Kaplan  19:17

okay. And it's just because it's super short form. It's designed to be high quantity. It's designed that they just don't have some of the penalties that others is that why it's a good testing ground or is it because of the cheap ads or Y on X

Neil Patel  19:28

both one cheap ads but to which in turn is more important as they don't care if you put a ton of junk content it doesn't hurt the reach of your future content.

Ben Kaplan  19:36

I see. So let's say you do that you put something out you do. I don't know. 10 tweets on X you've got like one that seems like a rockstar to that is like you know pretty good. Where do you take it next?

Neil Patel  19:50

So you take your best ones on extra the day. Let's say you post three, four times a day you take your best hit, and you read what you post on the next word for word which is what I do and I post that video on LinkedIn, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, YouTube. So those five platforms, I'll post the short form video, I'll use my text from x, I'll copy and paste it and use that and my posts for like LinkedIn, or my description and Instagram or YouTube or whatever social network or Facebook, just copy and paste the text. I click the Post button. I literally just record it word for word from a teleprompter, no joke. And that's the strategy. And then

Ben Kaplan  20:28

do you do anything else to like, customize it to those platforms? or do anything else? meaning are you cutting to any like, videos or visuals? Are you doing something else? Are you producing in any way? Is it different? Or is it just literally what you said, you're reading your tweet, sure, editor

Neil Patel  20:45

will go in there and add some visuals and stuff. But we found that the visuals make no difference really on the viewcount take

Ben Kaplan  20:50

us where we test on x. You recorded it word for word. I guess you have a teleprompter for your computer as it comes

Neil Patel  20:57

in records me they have a crew lighting everything. So I don't. Okay,

Ben Kaplan  21:01

so So when someone comes and does that, but you have a teleprompter that you actually read the words like You're like a news anchor reading this thing off the things you don't if you don't, you're not memorizing it, then what do you do? Once you start seeing, hey, this is working? How do you turn this into like a modest success into a bigger one? Or is there anything you're doing when you see this is taking off,

Neil Patel  21:21

I'm not doing anything on specific platforms. But then I take the winners, and I turn them into blog posts, and podcast episodes. And then I also create webinars as well from the best hits.

Ben Kaplan  21:31

Okay, so you're saying it's also selection there, too. So it's like, almost like a series of gates, you have the X gate, you gotta get through, then you have like the social media platform gate, if it makes it through there, then you're like, I'm gonna keep going,

Neil Patel  21:43

then it just automatically turns into a blog post webinar and a podcast.

Ben Kaplan  21:47

And is that because those are like bigger investments of your time, before you make a whole webinar and a podcast and a blog post on this, you want to make sure that it's going to be something that people are going to be interested in being you gotta write, what surprises you in this? I mean, you've been doing this for 20 plus years. Is there an example of content that you thought like, either A, it wasn't that great that you did, it wasn't your best stuff? And like, wow, that took off, or you thought this is my best thing I've ever done? And it did nothing? Like, is there anything that surprises you,

Neil Patel  22:15

dude, okay, I create so much content on a daily basis. Yes, is a great question. No joke, a lot of It shocks me, because what I think is going to be a winner, in most cases is not going to be a winner. I wouldn't say most cases, actually, what I think is going to be a winner, a good chunk of the time turns out to be, but a lot of times it's spent all this time creating content for X and like, Oh, this is great. Look at the charts that my designer and I'm creating, we paid a team to do a ton of research who spent 1000s of dollars 10,000 views spent no time whipped out a tweet 150,000 views on like crap, a lot of times what you think will do well does not do well. And vice versa. That's how you have to test. I don't care how good you are marketing, it's the reality, it's too hard to predict the hit and the misses

Ben Kaplan  23:01

what you describe as a process, we kind of call snackable content. What snackable content is for us is you start with your like pillar content, then macro content, micro content, nano content, you're deriving it from other things, I just think you do a very different thing than like, say we do. Because on our side, we'll start with the podcast, we'll start with the more like the bigger piece of content. And then we'll like slice and dice it and take it up. And oh, in this podcast, Neil Patel said, this really cool thing about x is the most underrated platform, we'll pull that out as its own little thing. Neil Patel says, Stop doing tick tock, do X. And we'll hit that hard. And whatever it is, like, we'll start with this long form, but you're doing it the opposite way. So what are the advantages of that? Are we going about it wrong? It's not

Neil Patel  23:44

necessarily you're going about it wrong, you got to plan your strengths. I'm really good at whipping up content that's text based. And I can do it fast. And I can do it often. Because my background started with creating content that's text based for blogging, you're playing on your strengths. And then you go from there. Some people have an easier time podcasting. So then they go from there. Some people like Gary Vaynerchuk, do better just people walk around and filming them. So they don't have to adapt to anything. I don't like that. I'm not saying his approach doesn't work. I don't want people following me around. My teams try to get me to do that. I refuse each and every single time. I just don't want people falling around. Even at a conference. They've paid people to try to follow me around. And they want to record people ask me questions, and I don't like nothing wrong with it. It's just not my thing. You got to adapt to what works for you.

Ben Kaplan  24:32

And I would say if I was going to maybe add a corollary to that, it's that creating content is hard. Like it's not that easy. And it's hard to also be consistent at it. So you've got to pick the easiest path to get something down what you're best at what's easy for you what you're good at what's fun, because otherwise it can be a real chore and once you get that then you can do all the other stuff with it. Would you agree with that?

Neil Patel  24:56

I agree with that. And but you got to figure out what works for you not what works For Neil not works for Ben, you got to figure out what works for you.

Ben Kaplan  25:03

What is a day in the life like for Neil Patel in terms of content creation? Are you doing this every day? Are you doing this in the morning that night? Are you doing this on weekends or not? You got kids, you got family? How much are you doing? And what is it that typical day like for you, I'll

Neil Patel  25:18

just break down my day from start to beginning for everything. Okay, so I wake up typically around five o'clock time detained just happened. That sounds a little hesitant, but it used to be 430. But now it's more like 530 Because I've lost the hour. In the morning, I need to adjust back. I work out early in the morning, I then go throughout my day emails, kids wake up, I'm the first one up. So give the youngest his milk, someone comes in by 7am. To help with the kids, my wife is usually cooking or someone else's cooking breakfast for the kids. I typically don't eat until 12. So, you know, I skipped breakfast, I'll take the kids to school. And I'll think of ideas. When I'm on the way to school, I talked to my daughter, sometimes we brainstorm ideas. And I'll post out some tweets based on some of the ideas that I came up with. And

Ben Kaplan  26:08

those ideas for the day we're talking about in Neil Patel's life, or are these like ideas that you might do a month later or you like literally you're brainstorming ideas that you're going to create today.

Neil Patel  26:19

None of these are ideas that I'm going to create today. Like I'm just posting them based on what's happening right now in there. I'm not waiting.

Ben Kaplan  26:27

Got it. So you're not planning this out in advance. Okay, so you take your kids school, you're brainstorming, and then what happens after that,

Neil Patel  26:32

I post up the ideas and then you get some hits, you don't. And those ideas

Ben Kaplan  26:36

that you're posting direct, like you yourself are going on acts and typing out your idea, your thought and then you're seeing the response right away. And then you're meeting with other people on your team, looking at some of the results of

Neil Patel  26:48

those know me with other people on team for just daily work. Okay, I don't spend more than hour a day on content creation if you average it out.

Ben Kaplan  26:54

Okay, so you're posting it on x, then you're going through meetings, just stuff you got to do is that with your digital agency is that with other things, my

Neil Patel  27:02

digital agency or our customers, and it helps me come up with more ideas. Okay,

Ben Kaplan  27:07

so you're doing that? And at what point then those tweets on X turn into something else? Is that during this day? Or are other people doing it? When do you like record the video for two to four

Neil Patel  27:17

times a month someone comes over and we crank out the recordings in 30 minutes sessions. No joke, it doesn't take me more than 30 minutes is sitting there reading from a teleprompter. In that 30 minute session, I usually can crank out at least 10 to 15 Short Form videos. Once a week I record a podcast, the recording is bookmarked in my calendar for an hour and a half. But it doesn't usually take more than an hour and 20 minutes.

Ben Kaplan  27:41

Okay, so you have these concentrated periods, you're not doing it every day. And then you're doing multiple at once you have to do the daily tweets, then you have these like video sessions. And then you have these longer form podcast sessions that you do periodically.

Neil Patel  27:52

Yep. And then my blog post or write them on a Sunday. And that's it. Blog Post takes me no more than an hour to write hour and a half. And that's really it webinars. I don't create them. someone on my team does I just approved the topic yet. Keep in mind we have a lot of team members. I don't know how many we're at right now. But someone was telling me the other day we'll hit 1000 By the end of the year. So it's like I got a big team webinars, I just show up to the webinars, they tell me what slides and I just talk how many people

Ben Kaplan  28:17

then are working on your actual social content sounds like you're still doing a lot of it yourself. If you're writing the blog, post yourself have that? Or do you have other people like the Neil Patel brand, how many people are working on that?

Neil Patel  28:28

The social media, people who record the videos and edit their contractors. And they also post the content for me, maybe one person if I had to pick one person full time, but there's I know there's not even one person full time. If I had to sum it up, it's less than one person full time.

Ben Kaplan  28:41

And yet people look at you in marketing. I mean, in that space, are you the most prolific person in terms of like content? Like it doesn't sound like that much. But yet, not a lot of people can do it? Or do you think there's people who create a lot more than you do?

Neil Patel  28:53

There's probably people who create a lot more than me, I don't know, every single person, but there must be people that create more content than me.

Ben Kaplan  28:58

And what is your recommendation for someone to get set up in that kind of a schedule? It seems like you have a system down. But others I know very successful content creators who you know, are literally waking up in the morning, doing this all day long, and then going to sleep and then doing it again for you. It sounds like it's very systematized. It's like a production line and you have a compartmentalize, what do you recommend for people to get more like that? Because especially early on, it seems like it's kind of all consuming to try to create content. Two things. One, you

Neil Patel  29:27

got to figure out what works for you. We kind of talked a little about, like, leverage your strengths and what type of format works best for you. The second thing is read. If you read a lot, you'll come up with tons of ideas without even trying to come up with ideas.

Ben Kaplan  29:39

Do you mean read like are you reading in the marketing field or you're just reading like random stuff about how Oppenheimer was Best Picture and that's going to give you an idea and something unrelated that marketing that you can use,

Neil Patel  29:51

I tend to read stuff that interests me is not always in marketing. But you know, it's not really random stuff, either. It's whatever interests the economy, finance marketing, entrepreneurship, pick whatever interests you,

Ben Kaplan  30:03

and specifically for a few channels like, I think a lot of people would love to have a YouTube channel like yours. What does it take to go from zero to, you know, 1 million subscribers on there? What do you have to do to do that? Because sometimes people say like, oh, man, like, I wish I had started when Neil did. It was the golden era of this stuff. You can accumulate followers faster now. It's so competitive. What do you do if you're at zero today?

Neil Patel  30:28

You don't worry. YouTube's algorithms changed. They don't care how many subscribers you have. They've democratized content. All they care about is how good is your video and whatever followers you have, whether it's 1000 or a million, the ones who saw it, if they engage at a very high rate, YouTube just shows your content to everyone. So followers, for most platforms don't matter. They care about your engagement in your content. If it's extremely high, they show it to everyone. That's the model. Okay,

Ben Kaplan  30:53

so focus on Don't worry what your total is now. Just maximize whatever you have, yes, and keep maximizing. And then you have a million on Facebook, it seems a little passe. But like, if you want to grow Facebook now, and there's this notion like Oh, only way to grow Facebook is through, like paid for wants you to pay. Is that true? What do you do now? If you're at zero on Facebook, you pay or you don't worry about? And why is that it's become that no matter how good or how engaged the content is, it's going to be hard to get from a small audience to a big audience. It's not

Neil Patel  31:24

impossible, but it's very unlikely they want you to spend money. And then

Ben Kaplan  31:27

what about tick tock? I mean, tick tock is something where you haven't typically had to have big followers or things like that. Well, what do you do if you're starting out on tick tock? What is your advice there? You're known as more of a long form video person, obviously tick tock, very short form video, what should you do to get started,

Neil Patel  31:42

it's the same. So I mainly create short form videos these days, it's the same, it doesn't matter if it's tick tock, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, they've all turned into Discovery Networks, if content is super engaging, they show it to a ton of people that they think would be interested in it. That's the key. There's no difference from Instagram to Tik Tok. It really is about how engaging is your content, if it's super engaging, they try to show to everyone. That's it. That's how most social networks work today, by 10 years ago, that wasn't the case. But that is how it is today. Followers are irrelevant.

Ben Kaplan  32:15

And do you think that people should do what you do which is extend into blog content, extend into written forms? do other things I know, people are kind of wondering where the state of generative AI is, what's going to happen? Should I be using AI to create my content? Do you recommend that is SEO still alive? And well, or, you know, if you're new at it, you wouldn't invest in it right now.

Neil Patel  32:39

It's still alive and well, and it does extremely well. There's a lot of big companies that have been built on SEO and still generate a lot of revenue from SEO. So I would do all the blogging and do all the other stuff. Mazal get more play from your same content that you already created, you're silly not to what is the mistake that you see in content that others make? The big mistake is they put out content without testing it, you got to test on experts, because the news put out a lot of jobs that no one cares to engage with. And then

Ben Kaplan  33:05

do you ever edit your content or optimize it? I mean, are you ever looking at anything and saying like, Oh, this YouTube video I had to drop off at this point, let's fix it. Or no, that's not needed for you because you're just going to move on to the next thing. Bingo,

Neil Patel  33:19

you got it. Right. I just move on to the next thing, because I'm testing it on X already see what has the best engagement so when I create it on YouTube, I'm hoping that the engagement carries through in video format. And

Ben Kaplan  33:30

because you're saying you're doing more short form videos out What about something like YouTube shorts? What about other things like that? Do you recommend embracing that? Are we just getting more short form in general unless it's like a really pillar content? How should people if they're kind of trying to approach video they're trying to pick long form short term, YouTube Tik Tok YouTube shorts, reels, what should they be thinking about?

Neil Patel  33:51

I think we're making it too complex. Just people are moving towards short form videos, just create the short form videos like I discussed earlier, and posted on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok, they all except short form videos, post the same thing on all. That's the model. I think people tend to overcomplicate social media marketing, it's not that complex, test stuff out on x, the stuff that hits means that God's getting engagement, go recorded video reading it line for line and go post it everywhere else in the same short form format. That's it, it's not that much more complex.

Ben Kaplan  34:25

Well, here's the part that I know some of our viewers and listeners will want to know about because they may already be doing a version of what you're doing. Maybe it's not exactly but they're doing some kind of testing. They're already having a big audience and they're saying, well shoot, I don't monetize this yet, like Neil Patel. So if you've done that part, and you're like, searching for a business model, you want to make this sustainable, you know, your full time gig, you want this to grow. What do you do at that point? If you are getting engagement, this model is working, but they don't have a whole digital agency behind them to monetize for instance,

Neil Patel  34:57

I can't answer that question because Uh, the way you monetize cooking content is different than you monetize digital marketing content, I would tell people build your audience first. And don't worry about the monetization. Because if you have an audience, eventually companies or someone will hit you up asking for stuff. And if you get enough people asking you for that same thing, you got idea of how to monetize?

Ben Kaplan  35:20

Do you chase new platforms or new features on certain platforms? Or try to be the first mover into this? Were you on Vine before everyone was doing it before it goes away? What is your recommendation on just sort of like chasing either features or platforms or trying to have an unfair advantage because of your first

Neil Patel  35:37

I don't do that. I'm not saying it's a bad strategy, but my company's at a decent size and scale, it's easier for me to spend the dollars once a platform has proven itself versus wasting tons of hours on something that's not proven.

Ben Kaplan  35:50

Okay? So you're just gonna say, I want to make sure that it's worth it, I have a formula in it, it's worth my time, and you're gonna let someone else test it out first for you. And at what point do you jump in then do you say we've had people on the show who say like, they credit their success as an influencer and content creator to like, when reels came out? They embrace reels, and other people said, Don't do a reel. And they did. So what is your recommendation on just like, how much do you have to study the platform's understand how they're changing? Or is it just watch your own content, observe and adjust based on what you see,

Neil Patel  36:21

it's watch your own content, observe and change based on what you see. And when platforms release new features, they usually make those features popular, so just leverage of them. Whether it's a real or something new, tick, tock wants photos, they tell you in the Tick Tock has this design screen that says you should post photos, photos, get X, more engagement and likes and all this kind of stuff. They're telling you if you post a photo will give you more engagement? There is not this is not rocket science. I think people try to make social media marketing way too complex when it doesn't need to be. I'm not saying you are. But I'm just saying people, overcomplicate it, tick tock will tell you post the image, we will give you more likes, then just post the image. You don't have to study crap. Just literally post the image that you think is decent, you probably will get more engagement if they're telling you we will give you more likes, because that's how they program their algorithm.

Ben Kaplan  37:13

Do you worry about all this stuff? The news recently about Congress wants to ban Tik Tok? What will happen from that? Or what what is your assessment of all of that has a lot of people worried who make their livelihood on tick tock

Neil Patel  37:25

already talked about banning Tiktok when Trump was in office, two people already said they would buy tick tock and you know, they would have had a potential deal. Three, if they better someone's just gonna buy it and they'll still be around, I'll just be American owned instead of Chinese own? What difference does it make for you as a consumer? Nothing? Keep us in it.

Ben Kaplan  37:42

And if there's a gap in the market and tic TOCs, were like God, then someone else is gonna start the new tic toc to take advantage of the gap. And you'll switch over there. So what is next for Neil Patel? I mean, you're well known in marketing and digital marketing circles, you've built a large agency, you have the system for creating content, where do you want to take this? What's the next milestone? How do you sort of like keep yourself motivated,

Neil Patel  38:06

the way we keep ourselves motivated is we just keep doing the same thing over and over again, I love what I'm doing. I'm passionate. And I'll keep building my agency and growing it and growing it, we're still a tiny agency compared to some of our competitors. You know, some of our competitors have 100 plus 1000 employees. So we're just going to keep doing what we're doing and having fun while we're doing it and not worry too much about stuff, we can control it what is

Ben Kaplan  38:27

a skill that you wish you would have going forward? What is something that is in pursuit of growing your agency that you are working on yourself, you would like to be better at,

Neil Patel  38:37

there's not a specific skill that I'm working at to be better, I leveraged my strengths. And I don't worry about improving the stuff I'm weak at. I'm more so focused at finding people who can fill in the gaps that where I'm weak. And I continue to look for people who are stronger than me on any front. Okay,

Ben Kaplan  38:53

so meeting, part of how you succeed now is it's not just like, I don't know if phase one is, how do I get the best out of Neil Patel, you kind of know how you work. Phase two is how do you get the best out of other people to amplify the overall and you're more on that it's like a team sport not as much of an individual sport for you now it's basketball or soccer. Not tennis. Correct? It's a pure team sport in terms of generative AI? Are you excited about it? Are you not excited about it? Do you think are people worried that? You know, we don't need content creators anymore? We'll just have ai do it. What is your view on generative AI? And how can people leverage it?

Neil Patel  39:29

It's great. I think the quality is not where it needs to be, but it's early and give it a year or two. And I think it's gonna be really amazing. But the quality isn't really there for a lot of marketing purposes yet. I'm not saying it won't be. I'm just saying it's not there yet.

Ben Kaplan  39:45

And you're saying from your point of view of everything we talked about, about something that like hooks people and is super surprising and contrarian and backed up with facts. The problem is if you try to create that in generative AI, you're going to have like average or below average content that is not going to have engagement. So It's not going to work but you think maybe AI can get there. It's just it's not there yet. Neil Patel is gonna beat cat GPT every day.

Neil Patel  40:08

I'm not saying I'll beat Chad GPT every day, but check this out. Okay, I know we're running towards the end. But we did a study, our team analyzed three or four accounts that posted both AI and non AI content on social media. Non aI had 66 likes on average per posts, AI content had 41 non AI content had 3.1 comments on average, AI Generated Content had 2.3. So, you know, numbers don't lie. I'm not saying they won't change over time. That's a current numbers.

Ben Kaplan  40:38

Okay. Final question for you is if you had, you know, I know you enjoy helping people i know you enjoy creating content. If you had a magic wand, you were like the president of global digital marketing for a day you could enact anything you want to sort of a help people lift up the field make a change? What would that be if you could sort of one thing that you could do that you think would have the most impact on the most people and all of their kind of marketing work?

Neil Patel  41:04

There isn't one thing I would want to change. I kind of liked the hecticness the chaos all the algorithm changes the different platforms government talking about tick tock cetera. For me, it makes it exciting. I like the world we are in in digital marketing. The only one change I would do is I would try to give people patience. People expect tons of results the next day. I'm not talking about companies paying us for marketing. I'm talking about anyone. I'm on Tik Tok. I'm on Instagram. I credit red cow. Why do I have a million followers? We've only been doing this for a month. Why do you expect to have a million followers or 1000 likes like people just aren't patient. 

Ben Kaplan  41:41

Neil Patel thank you so much for joining us on Break The Internet. Best wishes for continued success. I'm gonna look for your next contrarian content that gets a million views.

Neil Patel  41:51


Tom Cain  41:52

Here's how Neil breaks the internet. Number one, don't get obsessed with revenue generation. Instead, focus on creating value and consistency. Number two, go against the grain challenge conventional wisdom and offer alternative perspectives to capture attention. Number three, test on x. Experiment with different types of content on x and then take the heavy hitters to platforms where low quality content can harm your channels performance. Number four, focus on your strengths delegate the tasks where you're weak. Number five is be patient content creation is a grind. Don't expect to hit a million views if you've only been doing it for a month. Unless you're really lucky building a strong presence takes time. Let us know what you think and how you are going to Break The Internet. This episode was brought to you by TOP Thought Leader go viral with TTL check out all our shows at Like and Subscribe.

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