Today’s episode features Matt Gottesman from TREP Media Group. Matt is an expert when it comes to creating media and engaged communities. Matt talks about how you can stand out when you’re specializing in media and content.
“If you focus too hard on the end result, you are not as flexible for pivoting in the process. All you need to have is a vision of the end. The rest of the details are revealed to you while you are building.”
You can find Matt on Instagram and Twitter at HDF Magazine or you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoyed this interview, please leave us a review on ITunes and let us know what you learned. Enjoy this episode with Matt Gottesman.
Micky Deming: (00:44) Hello! Welcome to the TREPX Podcast. This is Micky Deming and I have another interview to share with you today that is going to blow your mind! I had a chance to chat with my friend Matt Gottesman of Trep Media Group, so no relation, but another Trep out there. Matt is an expert in creating media, creating engagement, creating community. The stuff he and his friend Kace Kenny have been doing with Trep Media Group and the different brands, Hustle and Deal Flow, The Hustle Sold Separately Podcast in Pursuit where they have just generated an incredible community through the content they’ve created, through the engagement and I asked him all about how that’s possible because there is so much content out there. How when you’re specializing in media and content, how do you stand out? How do you get anyone to care and to actually connect with you?
Well, Matt has figured it out and when you hear what he says in this interview, you’re going to learn so many things you’re probably doing wrong. I know I did. Things that I can do better and Matt breaks it down into some very simple ways of how you can actually build a following, build a network, get people to gather around what you’re doing, so you’re going to love this interview.
So I am going to stop talking so we can get right into it. Matt was so much fun to chat with, total expert. Check out everything he’s up to. You can see their main site at TrepMediaGroup.com and then check out what Matt’s up to. Most of his time is spent at Hustle and Deal Flow Magazine. You can find that at HDFMagazine.com.
So thanks so much to Matt for taking the time. Check out this interview at TREPXGroup.com and you can see all of the links to everything Matt’s up to, but without further ado, please enjoy this interview with Matt Gottesman.
Micky Deming: (02:22) Hello, Matt! Welcome to the TREPX Podcast. How are you doing?
Matt Gottesman: (02:25) I’m good, I’m good, Micky! Thank you for having me on.
Micky Deming: (02:28) Thanks for being here! It’s awesome that we got to connect in your warm home of Arizona last week! I am back here in Illinois where it’s cold, but I’m glad we can connect on this podcast!
There are so many things to talk about. Let’s just start with the big picture. With Trep Media you have a lot of different things going on. So can you just give an overview of what you’re up to right now?
Matt Gottesman: (02:53) Yeah, absolutely! So you mentioned Trep Media Group and it was formed by my partner Kace Kenny and I. Kace, he created Prsuit.com and about a year ago we met via Instagram. We love sharing that story! That is a whole other story. We met via Instagram. He saw what I was doing with HDFMagazine.com, which is our other publication he direct messaged me and said I’d love to talk with you and I said alright. He said so you interview creators from around the world that are really building on their hustle, you know they are demonstrating the hustle and they haven’t been glorified by mainstream media just yet and I feature over 400 contributors from around the world, authors, who are writing about their experiences and their journey and their stories. So I don’t know what the synergies are yet, but I’d love to explore of the next so much time and so we did and as both of us continued to grow, we also reached out to our audience a lot more to figure out what they wanted.
As they started telling us more things, it then later helped us establish a webinar academy forum for people for doing all things blogging and publications and digital media and then that lead to creating a podcast. It is mostly because we just listened to our audiences and if what they tell is on brand for our end goal or mission, then we will do. If not, then we are just grateful for the input from our audience.
Micky Deming: (04:34) That’s perfect! I think that is a great summary and for the listeners out there, when you check this out you’re going to see just so much content. I want to talk to you about the content, but before that I want to go back for a second and talk about just the focus on the journey and on the hustle. You even said it was intentional to not go after contributors who had already arrived or already attained some level of status. Can you talk about the mindset you had in that and how you worked through the focus on who you want to feature?
Matt Gottesman: (05:12) Yeah, yeah so when I wanted to do an entrepreneurial blog, publication if you will, I had a lot of people say oh that’s never been done before, good luck with that. I said I really want to do something different, so I mostly just kept my mouth shut and I thought about. I said I would work with really big brands and I’d work with venture capital firms, and I worked with a lot of success stories or would be success stories.
One of the things I noticed about media is that a lot, and God bless all of them, but a lot of times they feature that end success. So and so sold for half a billion dollars, so and so got acquired for 100 million dollars, we can all learn from their success. Here are the things that they learned along the way. I thought about it and I said you know, there are people building every single day that to me, their story is more relevant and their journey is more relevant. We need to feature more people like that because when it’s happening in real time you’re capturing the magic of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
The second thing is that I noticed was that when you see the Elon Musk’s of the world and the Oprah’s and all of these great, fantastic people or people who have created these massive tech companies, you start seeing a lot of people who wanted to create their own company. They’re like I’m going to create the next unicorn or the next multi-million, multi-billion dollar company, but there they’re going after it for the wrong reasons. I was like no, if you actually watch people who are really passionate about what they’re doing. They know their why, they know their vision, and they’re building on, you will see it will be more like a pay it forward that you’ll actually want to do it yourself.
So I think, ok. Let me feature people who maybe they’re making about high five figures, now six, seven, even there are a few people in there that are making eight figures, I mean that’s ten million dollars, but mainstream media hasn’t really grabbed a hold of them just yet. To me they’re every day heroes because they’re demonstrating if they put their minds to what they want to do and their vision and put that into action then the details will be revealed to them. To me, if a reader sees that goes you know what, that’s like my colleague or my friend or my associate, they’re only eight months out, their only a year and a half out, they’re only two years out, I can do that too.
Micky Deming: (07:45) I love that! That’s a great focus and it makes a ton of sense and I think your right in when you feature the end result, then that’s what people are really focusing on. The other drawback to that, and this has come up a lot on this podcast with people I’ve talked to and then it’s come up again and again, some of the people that have what would you call “arrived” or reached that like plateau that they were going after have said that once they got there they were a little bit unsatisfied. It wasn’t what they thought it would be and so you have to learn to enjoy the moment you’re in, enjoy that present state, and not just focus on this destination off in the future. You may never get there or it may not look like what you think it’s going to look like.
Matt Gottesman: (08:32) Right, absolutely, and then if you focus too hard on the end result you’re not as flexible. You’re not as flexible for pivoting in the process or embracing the process because you’re so dead-set on what the end is going to look like. All you have to have is a vision of the end. The rest is in the details and will be revealed to you while you’re building.
Micky Deming: (08:54) That’s awesome. What are some other big takeaways you’ve had just from telling these stories and hearing from people that are in it day to day?
Matt Gottesman: (09:03) Well, part of it for me was I almost wanted to approach it like a Malcolm Gladwell Outliers prospective, where he went around the world and more or less the book is about seeing how people think. That their success is not necessarily determined by where they come from or their school or any of these other things. So for me, I wanted to know are there some underlying themes amongst all of these different type of creator-type people no matter where they come from in the world that that’s why they’re doing what they’re doing? So it’s been really interesting hearing their stories.
The best part is, some of them tell me you’re “Oprahing” me, like it’s weird, I never tell anybody this stuff! So they really open up. Obviously I always want to keep it very positive and I am very collaborative in this process. I am not actually always the final say. I create the content and then I work with the person I interview and say did I capture your tone? Does this really tell your story? So this is that is the other thing is responsible journalism I knew that a lot of people want the quick story because just content, content, content. I was like no, I’m going to do responsible journalism. I actually want to capture the entire story and I want to do it collaboratively with the individual and so there is a lot of collaboration and relationship building in this.
Yes, I did learn that they do have a lot of similarities and values and mindset and backgrounds in terms of being misunderstood. Giving more value to their company and then realizing that they’re not necessarily being valued, so they do it on their own. Embracing being different, thinking different, and using different means to build something and grow, finding their passion. We’re now in a time where more than ever people are unsatisfied, or at least more vocal about being unsatisfied, with going after the job solely for the money or for the title or for anything. The more we’re seeing other people embrace their passions and going after something that they want and are willing to put that work in and the more transparent that is, the more people who are not doing that are really starting to questions themselves much younger and much faster.
Micky Deming: (11:25) Yeah, those are all good points. I think you have really tapped into something! And telling the authenticate story is so important. I want to get into that with creating content, because you kind of hinted at this at the beginning in just that we are not short on content in the world and we’re not short on information and so when you pursue something like this, that’s the question, why is anyone going to listen to you? Or how are you going to stand out? You guys have really carved out an identity to where you’ve cut through the noise and I think that is something a lot of people are like, I’m going to start putting out content and they do it for a couple of weeks or couple of months and they’re like nobody cares and they stop. So how have you approached content? You’ve shared a little bit about the storytelling and journalism, but how have you created an identity so that people are actually caring and noticing what you’re putting out there?
Matt Gottesman: (12:19) So at the end of the day, the brand is so important. Your why and your messaging has to come out all the way through everything that you do and that’s a big reason why your content will grow and your following and your engagement will grow. So if you know your “why” and you deliver that through the content, people will feel it. They will understand exactly what you stand for. Oh, he interviewed this person and that makes complete sense. Oh, he posted this post and that makes sense. You know it’s HDF, that’s pursuit, that’s Trep Media, that makes sense. So it’s constantly being aware of why we’re doing what we’re doing and then delivering that all the way through any piece of content that we launch, right?
I think it all starts basically there and then branding for me, it’s interesting because first of all I don’t like the word guru or any of those like experts because I think we’re always all learning. It’s funny when people are like you, “so you’re like this branding expert guy”. I’m like, I know what I like and very particular with content. Even the way it aesthetically looks because I learn from a lot of graphic designers and designers and branders and people that taught me a lot about it. It allowed me to bring that out through the way we bring our brands out. I know that not only do what we want to deliver really break content, but we want it to be highly consumable for people. If you just throw up a bunch of words everywhere, that’s too much and if you don’t do any words or anything, that’s too little.
So how do you bring out the essence of what it is you’re creating through both a look and through communication, through verbiage? That’s where we really think about it from the very beginning and my business partners are all great because they know how I feel about branding and messaging. While they’re awesome at it as well, they’re like hey go to town and do what you do right here.
Micky Deming: (14:30) That’s great! Well, it all fits in with what you were saying before in just that you didn’t want to feature the people had arrived. So right there, that’s a brand, that’s something you guys are committing to and then even just the feel of everything when you go to the sites. There is such a consistency. You talked, before we started the interview, about just the focus on quality over quantity. Everybody says that, but I think a lot of times people don’t practice it. They think, you know, if I can just hit this number then momentum is bound to happen. You guys really went the other direction. Even though at this point your quantity is pretty outrageous, your focus was not really on quantity. Can you just share what your mindset was on that?
Matt Gottesman: (15:12) Yeah, the goal is you always want to focus on your end viewer, customer, follower, your audience. Focus solely on them. There is no competition. I say that a lot, there is no competition. The only competition is yourself. I know you hear that cliché all the time and what I mean is, how can I keep bettering and bettering content and my “why” for the end person that I am doing this for? When you that, they feel what you are doing. They feel what you are creating. Taking the time to do that, a lot of times, people they want all the likes on their posts. I want the comments.
Comments are showing that they’re actually wanting to have a conversation with me and they’re telling me more information. You know some of the big marketing agencies out there would like to know that is also called market research. On any given day I have 100,000 people that I have access to that will get me information for market research, so I no longer have to go pay 15 grand for market research or 150 grand for market research companies to go do that, per say.
I detracted there a little bit, but the idea though is you want engagement. You want your followers, I think it was Gary Vaynerchuck who said I’d rather have 80,000 followers, but 70,000 of them just ready to go to war for you. They’re ready for you. They’re ready to do whatever it is that you’re building, right? Versus 1 million people and only 30 thousand of them are engaged enough to do something. So that is so highly important when you’re building a brand because they’re growing with you and they’re telling you everything that you need to know that will help you pivot or make changes along the way as you brand.
I said quality over quantity because the quality will eventually get you to a place where it’s felt by so many people that the quantity will be there. So yeah, I want to the 80,000 with 70,000 strong and I’ll take a million with 900,000 strong because I took the time to build it the right that I will never saturate my audience and never do anything at the detriment of them and that I’m always bring thy to them. If you’re always bringing thy to them that’s just going to grow and it shows.
Micky Deming: (17:42) That is really interesting stuff! I love that it’s all about engagement! Really you’re describing it that your content is like your product, as if you’re a business. It’s like that start up, if you build it, they will come. You put it out there, but then nobody comes. It’s all about that feedback and iteration. I love the way you said if you can just create one post and just get some people to interact with it, even if they think it sucks, you get some engagement and then you can kind of move from there which is more productive than 10 posts that nobody really looks at. So I’m curious for listeners here because I think that’s something people are really going to take a lot away from that and how to create engagement. What do you do early on when you don’t have an audience, you don’t have engagement? How do you get that initial engagement and for people to start the conversation? How did you guys do it?
Matt Gottesman: (18:37) You know it’s funny, I was just in a meeting with a couple of guys before this who have an awesome start up that they’re focusing on the LA market and we were just talking about this. They had really content, but now they’re realizing, you know we need to grow and audience early on.
Interesting enough, it’s a mixture of two things. It’s figuring out, for example we use Instagram heavily. That’s been our main mediums and we figured out, ok we want to not only deliver our message so it’s about that initial first piece of content. That first piece of content that they view is so important because once you grab their attention, now you have to continue to give them value. In that caption, you’re giving them some form of value that either they’re going to like, comment, or follow because of it. Now, for them to get to find you is a whole other list of strategies, right? So the hashtags are one of them and here’s a quick time for anybody that is listening with Instagram. I don’t do my hashtags inside the caption, I do it inside the comment, so I’m the first comment. I put them in there and then after other people comment you know those just basically disappear. There basically not even relevant anyway after about 24 hours or even a few hours probably. So it’s the hashtags and then social networking, I think this is the part that a lot of people miss, there is a reason it’s called social network.
I am social and I’m networking with other people, so I might use photos of photographers or giving full credits I approach them and say, hey I love your work, I’d like to feature this. They say absolutely! It’s using a combination of tactics whereby I’m giving. I give people the credit if I use one of their photos if it’s not just one of my or my own post and I’m also giving thought around particular subjects that I know what my audience wants or the things that they’re trying to work through, or pain points, whatever. It’s very lean startup. They will then come find you. They will find you because people like that are initially looking for information like that and so that hash tags help for the searching. Using other people’s awesome work and giving them credit. You think about what happens there, right? Not a lot of people know how the algorithm of Instagram works. If I’m at 500 and somebody has like 5,000 followers likes my photo that actually ends up in the search algorithm. Meaning their followers, if anybody has ever looked in the search category it will say based on people you follow, that’s why this picture is coming up.
There are a lot of different things that attract you, so you want to constantly interact with other counts, bring awareness to them and they bring awareness to you. You like them, they like you. There are a lot of different things. It’s very social and as long as you’ve got great content and good messaging, people tend to start rallying around that. As you get throughout the algorithm, if you’re giving value from your account, it grows it. There’s other things, but that’s a whole other conversation.
Micky Deming: (21:51) That’s great! No but, I mean everything you’re saying is so important and it’s like it’s so obvious that it seems like isn’t everybody doing it that way. I guess it’s just easier to focus on getting the content out there rather than the engagement. Another thing you guys have done really, really well is to curate content and bring others in and the strength of your brand I think helps in that because you’re not bringing in others and then making it like inconsistent. Are you the editor? How do you go through that process to filter through what you run and how do you find this content that you’re bringing together?
Matt Gottesman: (22:36) So there’s twofold, so with Kace and Pursuit, he is the editor in chief and he’s curating from authors from around the world. He’s really particular about great content because he is focused on the millennial driven man. Mine are half and half millennial driven men and women. He is constantly looking for content that helps, is relevant for his audience, and is thought provoking. As he says, that is this perspective and inspires? He is always right there at his core of is this a perspective that will inspire my audience member and if yes, great. He is constantly on that and he’s got a whole system which I’m sure you’ll learn from him when you speak to him.
On my side, it’s 100% original content. It’s all me actually doing the editing and the interviewing. Some people thing I’m a content freak at this point because I’m very long from content. Some of these are like 5-7 thousand words, but I also believe that’s where we are heading with content. You hear Google and a lot of other outlets talk about where we’re heading with content and going more towards relevant. It’s not about how much content you put out, but as much as how great it is. There you go, quality over quantity again. It is coming up a lot more.
I look for people who they are very clear as to why they’re creating and it’s almost like vetting for venture capitalists. Like the way venture capitalists vet people. I’m looking at their character. I’m looking at why they’re building what they’re building. I’m looking at who’s rallying around what they’re building because if there are a lot of people rallying around it that, that are following them, some of these people might have like 15-20 thousand followers or 5,000 followers or they’re getting some interesting looks at them or people are trying and testing out their products or they’re really embracing what they’re trying to build and grow. So those networks are really important so growth hack for anybody listening, what happens is I’ll feature these people.
Now a lot of these people, not all of them, but a lot of them are marketing driven because they’re very active on social. So what do you think happens if I feature somebody who has 100,000 followers or 200,000 followers and they then say hey I just did a great sit down interview with HDFMagazine.com, here’s where you can go check out? Well they’re going to send it out through their networks and drive that traffic back to my site, right? So it’s very reciprocity. On one hand I’m bringing out these people to life with their awesome endeavors and ventures and what they’re doing and then the return is that as they also spread that it drives traffic back to my site. So I either capture them on my list, which grows daily, or get them into the essence of HDF and our why and rally people around that. Then they all get to see that great feature on the person that they already have relationship with.
Yes, I’m very particular about their character, why they’re doing what they’re doing, how they interact with their audiences, and I see where their heading. That part I can’t really explain. That’s just sort of something I see where they’re heading and a lot of times I think that I’m about a year to year and a half before they’re so out there mainstream media will capture them. The other great thing about that is, here’s another great grow fact for HDF, I look at it from an SEO perspective too because I’m pretty good with SEO. Actually I really love my SEO. I’m not going to sugarcoat all of that. I really love my SEO.
Micky Deming: (26:20) You’re a guru.
Matt Gottesman: (26:21) A guru, right, yeah! So what I realized is, ok, when all of those publications come out with a feature, right? What do they all do? Richard Branson did this and this and this and this and you’re like that’s awesome. Then the next magazine, you know, three things that Richard Branson. It’s like when magazines are all kind of fighting for the same story, but they have to kind of tweak it to make it for their own brand and their own. Then when you go to search that person you just see nothing but all kinds of articles on that person and it’s just too much information.
Well, so what I looked at is I am going to do these things, these features, on people who they haven’t been bombarded by that stuff yet. So once they are, I will have already had a year to get on the first page of Google. So that way when those stories actually do come out on them everybody will be like who the hell is HDF Magazine? How is he everywhere on all of these people? What I started to notice is that I’m actually ending up on the first page of Google within 90-120 days with some of these features. So my theory didn’t just work. I was actually really surprised of like this is 90-120 days and then some of them are getting small features on some of these other publications so I am actually now beating them on the first page of Google ahead of your major publications, and I mean MAJOR, who have millions of views a day.
So relevancy, contents, timing, all of these things really go. Promotion, marketing of it all of them really go hand in hand.
Micky Deming: (27:55) Yeah and one thing you haven’t really said directly, but it’s been basically a theme throughout everything you’ve said is just how much you’re listening. You know your audience well and then you’re listening to what they’re saying, you’re asking for feedback directly from them, and not only that but just paying attention and viewing what’s going on. Would you say that’s really a driving force in everything you guys are doing?
Matt Gottesman: (28:17) Yeah, yeah it’s no different than a startup. It’s no different than tech companies. It’s no different than product companies. You always just listen to your audience and be out there listening to trends and what’s happening and deciding whether or not that fits with your why and where you’re heading. We watch and we see a lot of other brands out there and we have to be knowledgeable of the other brands. So when I say no competition it’s because we’re not really trying to compete any of these other brands, but we do have to be knowledgeable of what they’re doing.
Only because if we are going to play in the same field as them with certain things, we have to make sure then that we deliver it on brand for what we believe in and who we would deliver it, right? So there is listening all across the board, just listening to your audience and just listening to the industry, but yet keeping blinders on from the industry sometimes. That’s why I said in a presentation at start up week a couple of weeks ago, if industry doesn’t offer you what you’re looking for, you have to create it, right? Sometimes you have to put blinders on and just create the way you think it needs to be created with the audience in mind and that requires a lot of listening.
Micky Deming: (29:34) That is awesome! There is a blueprint for quality content, engagement, and building a community. I am very grateful. This has been a blast!
Matt Gottesman: (29:47) Thank you so much, Micky! This is great! It was great meeting you in person last week.
Micky Deming: (29:50) I know, we’ve got to do it again! I need to get back to Arizona. Besides in Arizona, where can everybody find out about all this good stuff and add to your community?
Matt Gottesman: (30:00) Yeah so, on Instagram we are @HDFMagazine. I know you’ve probably mentioned it, but HDF stands for Hustle and Deal Flow. So HDFMagazine on Instagram and Facebook we are HDF Magazine and of course HDFMagazine.com. People can reach me at info@HDFMagazine.com and they can check out our media group of properties at Trep Media Groups, that’s TrepMediaGroup.com. Yeah we’re approachable and we’re findable. We love when people hit us up and tell us what they think or what they’re looking to do or now we’re working with some really cool sponsors. Whether you’re a company or just supporter or somebody who has great content, we love hearing from everybody.
Micky Deming: (30:45) Great stuff! Yeah we’ll have to check that out and join the conversation. Matt, thanks so much this has been awesome! We’ll definitely talk to you soon!
Matt Gottesman: (30:53) Great! Thank you Micky I really appreciate it! Thanks for having me on!
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