Wed, 27 May 2020
RYB #834 Building The TOP Swimming Pool Content Website After Getting FIRED (Matt Giovanisci's Story)
I had the opportunity to interview Matt Giovanisci, and I’m excited to share a few highlights from our interview with you. Matt started a niche website 15 years ago called Swim University, where he posts a lot of “how-to” content related to pool maintenance.
I came across the website a while back and used it in a case study for Brand Creators Academy. I also mentioned Swim University, and it’s success in a recent podcast a few weeks ago. I received an email from Matt after the podcast was published, offering to come on as a guest to tell his story and answer any questions that I have.
I’m happy that he was able to join us on the podcast and can’t wait for him to share with you all the ins and outs of his business, how he’s found success, and a few things that didn’t work out so well along the way.
Let’s dive right in and learn a few things from Matt about the process of how he got started and has since built multiple successful businesses.
How Swim University Was Born
Swim University has over 5 million visitors a year. As a seasonal website, we get over 1 million visitors each month between May-July and between 300,000-500,000 visitors during the other months of the year.
When I was 13, I got a job at a local pool supply store where I worked my up to become a manager before I graduated high school.
Over the next several years, I worked for a couple of other pool supply companies before pursuing a job at a web design company. I had taught myself how to code and design websites, but after a few months on the job, I realized that’s not what I wanted to do, so I went back to the largest of the three pool companies I had worked at in the past and become their marketing director.
Around this same time, I decided I wanted to build a website where I could teach people how to maintain their own pools. I knew all about affiliate marketing and AdSense, so I figured it was time to get started. I built the site for Swim University in 2006. I got a logo created to add to my site and still use the same one today.
At the time, I used an alias, Matthew Stevens, since I was writing all the articles myself and making all the video tutorials I included on my site. I had a job opportunity to work with Martha Stewert’s team on a project related to Swim University, and at that time, I decided to change my name on the site to Matt Giovanisci. My boss eventually found my site, and I was fired.
I spent two additional years at another company (non-pool related) before they had to let me go due to the condition of the company’s financial situation. I knew it was coming a couple of months in advance and decided at that moment that I would make Swim University my full-time job if I did get laid off. It had been a side hustle for over seven years up until this point.
How Swim University Become Matt’s Full-Time Focus
At the time, I was making around $10,000 or so a year from affiliate links and ads that I had on my site. Most of them were from pool companies and other related products that I had sold directly because I wanted to make sure all the content on my site was relevant to pool maintenance.
I was getting somewhere around 25,000 visitors a month, and my goal was to make $40,000 a year from Swim University.
After I lost my job, I spent an entire year dedicated to growing Swim University. I focused on publishing content, creating YoutTube videos, graphic design, infographics, and dabbled in a few other projects along the way, and by the end of the year, I was making over $40,000 a year, and it’s just grown from there over the years.
Matt’s Defining Take Action Moment
I was in a band back when I had just purchased the domain for Swim University. At the time, I talked a lot about the website and how I was going to make it a huge success. After a couple of years, one of my friends in the band finally told me to stop talking about it and just go out and do it. He told me that he didn’t think I’d ever actually make it work.
I thrive off negative motivation, so this was just the fuel I needed to get started. I was shamed into starting Swim University in a sense. If I’m told I can’t do something or it’s a stupid idea, it gives me the motivation to see things through and prove that person wrong. So I’m grateful to my friend for giving me the drive I needed to finally get started.
My single guiding star is I will never work for anyone else ever again. I’ve come to realize that everyone has their own area of expertise, and for many managing a team isn’t one of them, and I just dont ever want to work under anyone ever again.
However, in the pursuit of working for myself, I’ve learned useful skill sets that would keep me from ever being unemployed in the future if I ever needed something to fall back on.
Note From Scott: The skills that you’ve learned, whether in a previous job or learning to start your own business, can be used in future ventures.
Guiding Principles Matt Follows
I’ve come to realize that in every venture I’ve taken on, I’ve had to learn new skill sets to get me to a level of success. For Swim University, I had to forcefully learn to create “how-to” content that goes above and beyond anything else out there. I’m not a natural-born business person have spent years learning how to improve my skills. I don’t ever do anything just to make money. Instead, I focus on things I enjoy doing and learning new things.
By paying extra attention to details it makes my content stand the test of time. For me, the code for Swim University’s website was really important. I paid attention to all the micro details and created all the code myself. I wanted to make sure that everything was up to high-standards and creates a positive experience for anyone who visits. Every year, I go in and update the content to keep it fresh and up to date.
How I Create Content For My Website
Personally, I enjoy editing content more than free form writing. When I have to sit down and write an article, I start by writing the first draft, editing it, and then going back in to add in-jokes, reorganize paragraphs to better fit the story arcs, and taking it to a whole new lever before I deem it complete.
How I write content is similar to how I build a website and always pay attention to the micro details.
It took me many years to find someone to help write content for my website. I didn’t think anyone out there could write articles good enough for Swim University, especially if they didn’t have as much experience as me in the pool space.
I now have an editor who manages all the content for Swim University, and I answer to her. She sets the rules. Our other team members include a videographer, graphic designer, and a customer service manager. I keep my team lean, and it works great for us.
How I Get Eye Balls on My Content
One of the reasons Swim University does so well is because it’s fast and lean. I know how to format articles using the proper tags, how to do data schema, and have done the research to know what Google wants the data format to be like.
I make sure to find a balance of giving the robots want they want while creating content that people will be interested in reading.
If you want to have a successful business, make sure that you’re website is easy to load, maneuver, and the content is structured in a way that Google can easily read.
The Most Important Elements of a Blog Post
The fundamentals are most important, so there’s no need to go out and complicate things. My goal for every piece of content that I write is to make it bookmark worthy. I want it to be so good that someone wants to save it to read later or shares it with someone else.
Matt’s New WordPress Plugin - Lasso
I’ve been working on a new plugin that I’ve actually had on my own site for over four years. It makes it possible to select a specific keyword in your article and add an affiliate link to all instances of that particular keyword. It also allows you to create a display box that shows all the information for your affiliate products and makes them stand out.
Note from Scott: Head over to brandcreators.com/lasso to check out the details of Matt’s new plugin and all the awesome features it has to offer.
Now is the Time to Get Started
If you have a business idea or something you’d like to try out, start now. You’ll learn as you go along, and at first, it’ll be a huge learning curve. But you’ll learn, grow and improve as time goes on. Stop measuring everything you do. Instead, be present and enjoy the moment.
If you want to connect with me or check out any of my latest projects, head over to moneylab.co.
Wrap Up With Scott
Hopefully, what Matt shared with you today has left you feeling inspired and motivated to go out and take action. I love Matt’s story as it’s similar to mine in a sense. We both started out learning a trade and went out and used those experiences to go out and create something of our own.
When you take action you’ll see the best results and will improve new skill sets that you learn along the way. Remember, consistency pays off. It takes time but is definitely worth it.
Always be in the present, be a giver and give it you’re all. Life is too short not to do something that you love and are passionate about.
Remember, I’m here for you, I believe in you and I’m rooting for you
It’s time for you to go out and take action
Now go rock your brand!
4 Takeaways From The Episode