Jotform’s channel marketing manager Erman Ergun interviewed Gordon Hurd, founder of Big Man Tyrone, a business that makes custom web video messages and testimonials to help people to achieve goals, promote products, and make money online. Erman and Gordon chatted about the benefits of affiliate marketing, how to succeed at it, and how partnering with Jotform has benefitted Big Man Tyrone.
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Erman: Can you start by telling us about Big Man Tyrone, its mission and vision, and its focus industry?
Gordon: Big Man Tyrone is a strange concept that came to me around 2014. I had just left my job and was looking to start self-employment. I had set up so many YouTube channels that failed. I think I got about 53 subscribers on all 11 channels.
But I decided to give it one more go. I set up my equipment in my wife’s kitchen and she came in and said what are all these lights, cables, and equipment? She was so angry and I said wait, I’m trying to set up a YouTube channel that is going to be known all over the world. She kicked me out of the kitchen, twice, but I just persisted. Once she saw that money was starting to come in, she began to support the vision.
At the time, the Big Man Tyrone channel was just set up as a platform where I would have fun, talk to people about their dreams, and help them to achieve their goals. Then it morphed into a business concept. I started to see the possibilities of providing video services and video marketing services. And then big companies, small companies, and individuals began to call on me to do things.
I found out people had other concerns: how do we publish books, how do we build a website, how do we even start a business, so I started to cover all these issues so I could offer them on my YouTube channel.
Mine was a reverse process. Other people set up businesses and then do a channel after that, but I set up my YouTube channel and then provided business services to tailor them to the niche of my clientele on the channel.
About Big Man Tyrone’s niche and focus industry: It’s basically all over the world and in every industry. I have a huge customer base that covers 124 countries. If you look at my Jotform orders also, you see that they are coming from all over the place. This is all thanks to Jotform, which has allowed me to incorporate this tool that captures leads from all over the world.
Erman: You provide people feedback on every aspect of business, right? Whether it’s video marketing, spending, accounting, finance issues, their social media efforts, or their content efforts — do you do it all or do you focus on specific services?
Gordon: Being self-employed means that I don’t have an employer who sets tasks and pays a salary for me at the end of the month, so I’ve got to diversify services to be able to earn more.
For example, why only publish books, when you can build websites? Why only build websites, when you can offer security training? This mindset has allowed me to be a very versatile person.
But one thing that has really helped me has been Jotform because I am not that tech-savvy. I use tech well, but I’m not like a tech guru. Jotform simplified this process for dummies like myself.
Erman: How do you decide on which products or services to promote?
Gordon: I have four key elements for this decision.
The first is “rentability”: We need to have a tool, a process, that is rentable, that gives a good return on investment.
The second one is functionality: We need a platform that is functional, and the system needs to be able to streamline our workflow.
The third is organization: It should be able to organize everything we do in a very neat and cogent fashion.
Jotform does just that. Imagine having 200 orders a day, as I do sometimes. Now, how would I have been able to manage all those orders, decide who has ordered what, where they come from, what they want and how do I deliver what they want? But Jotform does it in such a slick way, it just tallies everything on a table. You can see who has bought what, where s/he’s from, how much is paid, what exactly s/he wants, etc. Jotform also archives it as a CSV file, an Excel file, and a PDF file. I have never seen anything this nice before, and those are some of the elements that determine how we choose partners that we work with.
Finally, communication. We need to be able to work with a partner that is on the job. When I have a problem, I hit the support button and I get support within a few hours. That is wonderful, from a business point of view. That is why Jotform meets all these criteria. Hence, I have a strong partnership with Jotform, so that’s why I recommend other businesses use Jotform.
Erman: How did you get started with affiliate marketing and how long have you been involved? How important is affiliate marketing for your company and its revenue?
Gordon: One thing about affiliate marketing that you can’t say enough is that it does not require effort. If, for example, you want to sell suits, for example, you have to go, find a company where you can source these suits, and then transport the suits, and then mark them up, and put them up on a website. Sell, deliver, provide customer service, and all that. Somebody might want to return his suit, and you have to deal with the process in reverse again. All this is a nightmare.
But affiliate marketing takes all of that away, it spirits all your problems away. You simply find the product and provide the link to other people. They click and buy. The mother company does all the struggles in the background; they deal with all the customer service, fulfillment, and all that, and you just get your commission.
So, for the last seven years, I’ve been really focused on affiliate marketing because it provides an easy source of income, without effort.
Promoting Jotform is a way of creating another source of income because you recommend the product, people sign up, and you get a 30 percent commission for 12 months. Now that is huge. Affiliate marketing is one of the main channels of revenue for my business.
Erman: How much does your blog contribute to conversion rates, and attracting and retaining traffic?
Gordon: It plays a huge part. A blog is more personal. People go on the YouTube channel and all sorts of people see you doing all sorts of videos and subjects. But the blog is a bit personal because it narrows down what you do.
People can go to the blog and see exactly what you’re offering, and how they can get it. Just like the Jotform blog, there are tips, tricks, and how to do things. People get a personalized, streamlined experience with the product or service. So it plays a key part.
Erman: How do you determine which affiliate programs would be best to work with? What have you learned about selecting the ideal affiliate programs for your company?
Gordon: You should be passionate about the product, but passion doesn’t pay the bills. You have to first look at the profitability. For example, if you like music, you wouldn’t promote music all day long just to get one cent from a sale. It has to be profitable.
The second thing you want to look at is long-term income. You don’t want something that just pays you commission one time and then it’s done. One of the things Jotform does that is really wonderful is that it’s not just a one-off payment, the commission payment is recurring, and you keep getting these checks coming through the door. It’s really sweet. So, it’s really important that there is sustainability.
The third is that there has to be mass demand. Jotform is one of the leaders when it comes to online form creation and form integration. There are also other services that Jotform offers such as Apps, and Smart PDF Forms. There are also all these widgets that you can integrate into your form. So it is a mass product, and you’re sure that if you can promote it, you will get mass traffic to look at your affiliate product. Those are some of the key elements for me.
Erman: What steps do you take to be successful when marketing Jotform? In other words, how do you promote the value of Jotform?
Gordon: The first thing is practicality. People have to see practically that a product works. We have a lot of affiliate programs out there that don’t do anything. They just sell it on and then somebody sells it to another person and it does nothing for them. But the thing about Jotform is that you can actually demonstrate how it helps and how a business can change. Honestly, I can tell you I have literally seen people jump up and dance when I put Jotform on their websites. They’ve called me and said, “You are a genius.” I said I am not a genius. You want to put the product you are promoting in front of people by demonstrating it.
The second thing is that you want to be able to be a consumer yourself to serve as an example of how successful the product is. If you’re going to say that a supplement is helping people and then it doesn’t help you or you don’t look like somebody that uses the supplement, then people begin to wonder if that works for you. People can look at my business and they can say: It helped you and we are going to be able to use it also to help people and earn commissions at the same time.
Erman: So for the promotional channels you are using — you use your YouTube channel, blog. Do you do newsletters or email campaigns too? What other channels are you using for promotion?
Gordon: Yes, I do. I use a lot of email campaigns. One of the benefits Jotform allows me is that it archives all my customers so I can do repeat business. This is one of the things that really attracted me to this product. Jotform can archive all your customers and all your data and you can use that, later on, to integrate it with your autoresponders and email campaigns.
Additionally, I do a lot of offline affiliate marketing. For instance, local churches, and local business meetings where people are gathered in a hall. We just go there and talk to people and say “What do you want to do for your business? If this is what you want to achieve, this is a good product, use this product.” And once people use it, they get addicted, just like myself.
Erman: How easy was it for you to use Jotform? How was your experience when you first started using it?
Gordon: I was, first of all, shocked that there’s something as easy as this. Because as I’ve already said, I’m not really tech-savvy. I could just pick a form, click and drag a widget and put it on that form, drag a video and put it there, drag in PayPal, and put it there. Can you imagine just dragging and dropping things? We’re talking 15 minutes to one hour, you can set up a form. Then you start selling instantly, and this is the kicker. You get your payment instantly.
Erman: I know a lot of small businesses appreciate those easy payment features through Jotform forms. You mentioned all these good features of Jotform. What were the challenges you faced in your business before you discovered Jotform?
Gordon: I thought you were not going to ask that question, thank you for asking. I was on this platform offering video services and the platform took 20 percent of my sales for their own commission. They paid me after 21 days and then when I was withdrawing my money through my payment gateway they took $1, then they took conversion fees. So, I lost something like 22 percent of my income. So, if I accomplished $10,000 worth of sales, they took just over $2,000.
Then one morning I woke up and had an epiphany moment. I said I’m going to integrate Jotform. Somebody told me about Jotform. A young man had just left that platform and he said “Look, I’m not really interested in this. I’m going to set up my own website with something called Jotform.” And I wrote it down because I was very curious. I checked it out and I said, “Oh my God, this is my moment.”
So, I integrated PayPal into my website, and when I made $10,000 through my website, Jotform only takes $49 for the month for the subscription. So it doesn’t matter if I make $100,000 or $1 million that month, Jotform only takes its monthly fee. I saved $8,000 to $9,000 for every $10,000 I make using Jotform. It’s really ridiculous. Sometimes, I really wonder if Jotform is a charity because it’s such a good service at such an affordable price. It really helped me.
There’s also the speed of convertibility. I can just decide today to run four different campaigns, with four different forms. I don’t need four websites for these four different campaigns, I just need the forms. So, Jotform also takes away the need to build elaborate, complex, coded websites. It takes away all that hassle.
Erman: You mentioned before that you have customers all over the place. Can you provide an example of one kind of feature for a particular use case or industry?
Gordon: A customer came to me recently, just a few months ago, who had a contract from the [U.K.] Home Office to employ healthcare workers from abroad. I had already built a website for them about 6-7 years ago, so they approached me and said, “What can we do to manage this whole recruitment process?” and I said, “I have the perfect tool for you. It’s called Jotform.” He asked, “What does it do?” I said, “Well, I will send you an invoice and then I’ll finish the work. Then you will see what it does.”
So I invoiced them with a nice invoice. The client pays me and then I go into Jotform and I draw up the application form and everything that needs to be done, streamlining the whole process with file uploads so people can just attach their CVs. That is one of the cool features that somebody can apply for a job and attach any number of CVs. In this case, I think, they wanted 15 attachments.
So when they used it for the first time, they saw all the applications coming through, they called me and said, “We have an inspection coming up, in which they might want to see all these applications. Is there a way we can print them out?” I said: “You don’t need to print them out, just visit Jotform and you can download them in many different file formats.” He was screaming and shouting on the other end of the phone since his problem was finally solved.
Can you imagine the joy that any company can have when its processes are as simplified as that? It’s really just wonderful to see.
Erman: I guess this means that the ideal customers to use Jotform could be anybody who needs forms and data collection. They can use pre-built templates to get started right away and they can store the data easily. That’s wonderful to hear — that was actually my next question but I believe I answered my own question.
Gordon: Yes, there’s no ideal customer when it comes to Jotform. Everybody is an ideal customer.
If a charity wants to raise funds, they don’t need to go and apply for some payment gateway that’s going to ask them for their mom’s birth certificate before they give them permission to start selling on that platform. We don’t need that. They can start collecting donations right away.
A church wants to draw up a membership list and start building up its membership base — it’s Jotform! Big Man Tyrone wants to sell videos — it’s Jotform! If you want to do an e-commerce shop, you can drag and drop and build an e-commerce store with Jotform Store Builder! If you want to build an app, you can build one with Jotform Apps. We could go on all day long, just talking about the virtues of Jotform.
Erman: How does Jotform help you increase your sales, and what kind of contributions does it make to your company? You said in a Jotform review on Trustpilot that Jotform “changed your life.” Please tell us more.
Gordon: Let me tell you first about how that review went. Trustpilot took it down when I put it up the first time and contacted me. They said we are sorry, we can’t publish your review because on Trustpilot, we are interested in genuine reviews with proof of how the product was used and how it affected you. Because my review was such a great one, they thought that no product can get that good of a review and thought my review was spam!
So I wanted to show proof. I went into my Jotform and pulled up my sales data, from before I used Jotform. I had to bring it out and then pull that data from Jotform, with the comparative analysis, and I sent it to them. They said that they are sorry, and they published my review.
I was working a job and earning just under £40,000 a year, having to drive every morning to work and back, staying in the office all day, and struggling. And then I finally left my job and started doing a YouTube channel. I was using a platform that took 20 percent of any sale I made. I was struggling to survive.
Now, Jotform is the first platform that allowed me to make £89,000 in one single year. If that is not life-changing, I don’t know what is. When I wrote that review, I wrote it from my heart. I felt that and that’s why I’ve been wondering when Jotform is ever going to talk to me because I want to tell my story! You have changed people’s lives, my friend, and I’m one of them.
Erman: Have you been able to translate your Jotform success to other businesses that you work with?
Gordon: Absolutely. I have just told you about the company that came to me recently to build their platform. I have other businesses that want to do different things on their website. I’m currently building a form for a company in Northern Ireland that is trying to launch an awards ceremony where they will give awards to people. They need to collect data for sponsorship, they need to be able to sell sponsorships and sell tickets for the gala.
With Jotform, I’ve built a sponsorship form where sponsors can go and click, go to the drop-down menu, pick their sponsorship level and check out. People can go to the ticketing page and click. So you don’t even need tools like Eventbrite when you are doing events, because Jotform provides you with the tools to manage an event. People don’t know this, but you can manage an event using only Jotform and that’s what I’m doing for this company right now, and they are so happy. So, yes, my success is transferable and by using Jotform, I’ve been able to transfer it to other businesses and change people’s lives as well.
Erman: So to finish up, we’re going to do some rapid-fire questions with short answers. What do you think the affiliate marketing industry will look like in the next five years?
Gordon: I think it’s going to blossom because we have more and more products and systems coming into the market.
Erman: What would be the biggest piece of advice you could give to people or companies just starting out in affiliate marketing?
Gordon: Pin it down, just do it. And do it consistently.
Erman: What affiliate marketing skills did you learn most recently?
Gordon: I learned from one company online that you can actually automate the affiliate process. I’m actually now trying to learn how that can be done. You can build a platform that can automate everything in terms of pulling in products from a website and then putting it on your blog or on your website on autopilot.
Erman: Can you give us any good examples of websites/people who are successful at affiliate marketing, that you look up to?
Gordon: ClickBank, JVZoo. There are things like ClickFunnels, which help people to be successful founders, that can also be used in the era of affiliate marketing. There are huge tools out there, you just need to go out there. Also, obviously, we have Jotform, why should we forget about Jotform? It is one of the leaders. If you’re looking to start with baby steps and you want to build an income, why not offer this wonderful product to other people? Because it will change their lives, and it’ll increase your own bottom line as well.
Erman: Do you have any role models or books that changed your life?
Gordon: Brian Tracy, the person who created the psychology of achievement. That’s my role model.
Erman: Well, thank you so much, that ends our interview. It’s been a blast talking with you.
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