Dan Netting knew from an early age that he didn’t want a boss. After trying and failing to make it as an affiliate marketer, he eventually decided to launch a new online business that provided real value and made the most of his passion: motorcycles.
In the year that followed, he created his first eBooks and courses, and began growing his audience online. Now, at Life At Lean, he helps fellow riders learn fundamental skills that they can put into action – offering full support along the way.
Today, Dan joins the podcast to talk about why he didn’t believe he could turn his true passion into a decent business (and how he proved himself wrong), the framework that gave him the power to scale his business, and how the membership model has changed his life.
- What Dan learned from his failed attempts at affiliate marketing – and what stopped him from launching a business around his passion for motorcycles sooner.
- Why the world of motorcycle instruction was ripe for disruption.
- How Dan uniquely added value to this community as he began publishing content.
- How Dan grew his business from 45 subscribers to over 200 in just one year.
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- “For years, there was this deep-seated thing that this can’t be the business I wanted to be, and that’s the place I was always operating from. That in itself was a big hold back because maybe I wasn’t going all in with it at that time.” – Dan Netting
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Stu McLaren: There is a big trend brewing that’s revolutionizing the way business is being done. Big companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple are jumping on this too but so are thousands of others in all kinds of markets like photography and calligraphy, fitness, finance, meal planning, lesson planning, dog training, and so many more, and they’re doing it by shifting to a recurring revenue model. Hi. My name is Stu McLaren and for more than a decade I’ve been helping tens of thousands of entrepreneurs generate recurring revenue through membership sites. Join our host, Shelli Varela, as she takes you behind-the-scenes to see how these companies are building a thriving tribe that spends with them every single month. Now, let’s get to today’s episode.
Shelli Varela: Dan Netting, welcome to the It’s a TRIBE Thing Podcast. How are you, buddy?
Dan Netting: Very good. Thank you.
Shelli Varela: Good. I love your site. I love everything you’re doing and I love the fact that you were absolutely following the thing that you’re passionate about. So, I wanted to start right off the top, if you wouldn’t mind sharing with everybody who you are, who you serve, and how that story started at the very beginning.
Dan Netting: Okay. So, my business is around helping performance riders ride faster and safer around racetracks, which we do for a combination of training material, coaching, and we have a community where riders can help each other out and share their progress. So, this is specifically for motorcycle riders that ride the track. That could be amateur racers or riders taking part in what we call track days. Now, for those that don’t know, track days are a popular hobby all over the world where riders can turn up to a racetrack and basically run around for a day and have some fun. Now, a lot of those riders are there just to do that, just to turn up and ride around and go home but a lot of them are also there to ride faster than they did before. And I’m here to teach those riders how to do that and how to do that safely.
In terms of my story, yeah, I knew from a really young age that I wanted to do something on my own. I didn’t want a boss, basically. How that was going to happen, I wasn’t really sure. I just knew I just didn’t feel like I was made for employment. It was in about 2009 that actually made something happen after a couple of years of just figuring out what options I had and stuff. And yeah, so it was about 2009 I started throwing up these not so great affiliate sites, trying to gain people into reaching my sites and clicking on my link so I can make a bit of money. And as you would expect, that just didn’t really happen at all.
Shelli Varela: What were you doing for work at the time? Tell everybody sort of where you were personally. While you’re reaching out into the affiliate marketing world and trying to get that going, what did your life look like at the time?
Dan Netting: So, still living at home with my parents. I’m pretty young. I would guess 2021 at the time, I think. I’ve had a couple of jobs before that, just work. One was working for a computer shop just selling computer parts and then I started for an IT company where I was just working in IT support and I know really early on that, again, I didn’t really want to be there. It was just a means to support myself while I tried to build this stuff up and that’s all it was. I mean, life wasn’t bad or anything. I just knew that I wanted to do something with myself and be the boss of me and all the things that come with that and freedom. And the more I started looking at the whole “make money online” thing, I was like this offers the greatest amount of freedom and the easiest way to get into business. So, that’s the direction I went in.
Shelli Varela: Did you think at the beginning, when you first heard about like you said, “making money online,” did you think it seemed like a farce or too good to be true at the beginning?
Dan Netting: I didn’t think it was too good to be true just because I saw so much evidence that it was working for people when done the right way, which I definitely didn’t do at the beginning. Again, I was just throwing up these really, really poor sites and it almost trying to gain the system and gain them to come to your site and then eventually move through to another retailer and go make a purchase which was just totally unfulfilling and unsurprisingly very little comes of it. But it was in about 2012 where I realized that there was this big shift happening where if you wanted to be a success online, you had to provide value first. And that was almost more important than the thing you were selling in terms of gaining traction. So, yeah, from 2012, I saw everyone was starting this information marketing thing and I was like, “What am I good at?” And at the time, I was just massively into motorcycles. So, I’ve got my license in 2009 with the express purpose of doing these track days where, again, you just go to the track and you just ride around.
And, yeah, I’ve been doing it for three years. I’ve got pretty good. And I thought, okay, that’s what I’ll do. So, I put up another site and just started writing articles on my experience and explaining concepts and it was mainly just targeted at the newer riders because, really, in the grand scheme of things, that’s where I was, and people just started loving that so, the main reason being that there was nothing else like it online. So, that industry is extremely old fashioned in a sense that if you want to learn how to be a better rider, you go to a riding school, which there aren’t many, or you pick up a book off the shelf written like the 1980s. So, for this guy, this young guy to come out and start putting this stuff online and explaining things for free, this was something that everyone was loving. So, I saw I was gaining traction. My audience was growing nicely. Wasn’t making a ton of money. I still approached it from the affiliate marketing route but, again, that wasn’t really bringing a ton and it didn’t match my vision of what I get into it for.
Shelli Varela: Let me jump in for one quick question because I’m interested to know. So, when you started online, you’re originally working at your IT job which you then quit, and you’re working at this affiliate marketing gig and it’s a struggle and it’s hard, and you’re not really having a lot of success. And then you come to realize that there’s a shift in the industry such that in information marketing, its value first, and you realize, “Man, like I can provide a ton of value with respect to motorcycle and racing and all of the things.” What was the shift inside you as a person in between going from like affiliate marketing and struggling, transitioning into something that you were passionate about and loved? What did that look like for you both in terms of how it felt for you, but also the difference and the success that you would have one versus the other?
Dan Netting: The feeling was massively different. When I was doing the affiliate marketing stuff, it was just about making money. That’s it but which is, as you know, just it’s the wrong place to approach something from. So, when I did start providing that rapid value and I was getting emails after emails after emails of people that were finding this stuff and implementing it and getting results then it was like, “Okay, this is what I want. This is what I’m here for is to help people progress with this thing.” In terms of the success, again, I wasn’t making a ton of money mainly because at this point, I still hadn’t actually created any of my own products. But just in terms of the traction I was getting from an attention point of view, that was going really well. But again, because there was nothing else like it, and it was only really the following year where I started making my own products, first an e-book, and then later, of course, that it’s slowly starting to become something but, again, not on the level I was hoping to get it to.
Shelli Varela: What was the biggest limiting belief you had about making the transition to having your motorcycle passion be your membership site that you were wrong about? So, what advice would you give other people that maybe you’re having the same sort of doubts about, “Oh, you know, like, I love this thing but I don’t know if that’s really going to take off for be a membership site.” What was the biggest thing that you were wrong about that you were happy to know that you were wrong about?
Dan Netting: That it would actually become a decent business. Like for years, I’m talking years, there was this deep-seated thing that this can’t be the business I wanted to be and that’s the place I was always operating from. And I think that in itself was a big hold back because maybe I wasn’t going all-in with it at that time. And, okay, it’s years down the road but now I can safely say that I was wrong at that time, most definitely.
Shelli Varela: That’s brilliant.
Stu McLaren: So many people in all kinds of niche markets are leveraging their existing knowledge and influence and they’re transforming it into passive monthly income. This isn’t luck. This is a repeatable formula for producing a growing subscription income and if thousands of others can do it, you can too. To find out what type of membership site would be right for your business, visit GetTRIBEGuide.com. Go to GetTRIBEGuide.com and download it today. You’re awesome!
Shelli Varela: So, what is it like then having a membership site where you get to continually, you’re essentially getting paid to talk about the stuff that you would talk about for free? What does that look like in your personal life, in your family, with your lifestyle? Because from the very beginning, the thing that you always knew to be true was that you didn’t want to work for anybody else. What does that feel like now that you’re in the position that you are?
Dan Netting: So, to be perfectly honest, at the start, it wasn’t that different. So, I actually started my membership, the end of 2016 when I got a bit of a shelf from TRIBE’s own, Laura Phillips. I did a bit…
Shelli Varela: The one and only, Laura Phillips.
Dan Netting: Yes, yes. The legendary. So, yeah, I had worked with her for a little while at the end of 2016. And it’s something I had an idea about creating this membership, doing it around training, training videos and coaching, that kind of stuff but I just could never pull the trigger. And then, yeah, Laura just helped me kind of map out what was going to be and, essentially, just pushed me to say do it. And I did. And again, to be honest, at the start it wasn’t this massive revelation thing because maybe I was still approaching it from that point that I wasn’t fully confident in it but the same time it was quite nice to actually have that regular income coming in even though it wasn’t a time I had I think about like 30 odd members of my first beta launch.
Shelli Varela: That’s great.
Dan Netting: Yeah. So, in terms of the conversion percentage of the people I had targeted at the time, it was actually very good. But in terms of the money coming in, it wasn’t a huge difference over a year let’s say compared to the previous model I was running, which was sending, of course, two or three times a year. So, yeah, in the first 18 months, again, it was nice to get that consistent income. That was great. But it was only actually around the middle of 2018 after joining TRIBE that it just kind of really took off and made a big difference. And we went from, yeah, middle of 2018, implemented everything I’ve learned from Stu, launched last year and took it from 50 members at the time to 145. And then, since then, we’ve done two more launches, one in March this year, and then just August just gone, and we’re now at 230 members.
Shelli Varela: Fantastic. What was the biggest takeaway you took from TRIBE that helped you to transform your business into what you have in front of you today?
Dan Netting: The success path 100% that was an absolute game-changer for me.
Shelli Varela: Some of the people listening wouldn’t be familiar with that term. Can you let them know what that is?
Dan Netting: Essentially, you’re trying to create a framework or a path for people to follow, not just to follow but also to place themselves in. So, it allows them to have clarity and direction for where they currently are so they can get really specific and focused on what they want to work on next. And so, my industry, in particular, this was huge, because to this point, I had been growing the membership for 18 months and I was just putting content in there, putting content in there. And people, don’t get me wrong, people were loving what I was creating because again, there was nothing else out there like it. They were finding themselves and revelations on the riding side and all the rest of it but in terms of actually putting it into practice and getting results, I wasn’t entirely happy with what I was seeing because people didn’t really know what they should be working on first, all that stuff.
So, it took me a while but once I’d figured out and broken down into, for me, it’s four stages, once I’ve broken down these four stages and created these milestones that people have to hit in those stages, people were just getting so laser-focused and I created these little worksheets that they could print off and take to the tracks. So, when they’re at the day, they can just go, “Okay. What do I need to do in this next session? Okay. I need to work on this thing.” And then just again, that focus and direction that they get from that success path and knowing where they stand and what they need to work on, it just made a massive difference, actually, in two ways. It made a big difference in terms of the riders and the results they were getting but from a business and marketing point of view, it was massive for me because it gave me something really solid to stand behind. And once I actually really looked at who was coming in and where they were and where they were looking to get to, it really helped me hone in who I was serving and how I could talk to those people specifically.
Shelli Varela: Well, it’s funny how a success path will create simplicity and clarity not only for the people who are on the journey but for you as the content creator because you know how to help them more effectively and more easily. And with far less overwhelm.
Dan Netting: Yes, yes, because it becomes as simple as I’m struggling in this area of my riding and I say, “Well, okay, have you implemented these few things here that are in this stage that you’re currently in?” If they say yes, then, “Okay, then we just try and solve the problems around that.” If they say no, then I say, “Okay, well go and do those things.” And it makes my job easier. It gives them more clarity. Yeah, like I say, it was a game-changer for me.
Shelli Varela: It’s brilliant. It’s so brilliant. What is your best hope for your membership site going forward in the next two, three years for both the business and for your life and the freedom that it provides you?
Dan Netting: In terms of the business, I’d always had a goal when I started it of getting to 500 members so that’s something I’m hoping to hit next year. I think I can get there. We’ll see. We’ll see. In terms of life, to be honest, I haven’t really thought that specifically about it. We live fairly comfortably at the moment but, you know, we have goals about how we want to live and it would be great for to, my wife is a nurse, and it would be great for her to cut down some hours so she isn’t quite as busy. And when the kids eventually come along, just to have that financial security and to be able to have the freedom to live how we want to live as a family.
Shelli Varela: I love it. I love how a membership site so easily helps people do that. If you had one piece of advice to give somebody who is thinking about starting a membership site, what would you suggest?
Dan Netting: I know it’s been done to death, but it would really be to just be persistent and keep moving forward. It’s said so many times, but it’s so, so true and that word, persistence, is something that I’ve pretty much lived by. And you’ll be faced with so many challenges and doubts as you try to make your thing work but I’ve never met anyone that didn’t have the aptitude to actually push through them when they simply continue to try. I mean, I had so many doubts and moments of wanting to give up and some people would probably call me crazy in the middle of 2018 before the big jump from 50 to 145, when I spent six years trying to grow something around this particular passion, but again, it was only through that persistence, that I eventually found that solution. So, yeah, I would just say if you truly believe, believe in what you do, and if you think you’ve got something there, then I would just say keep going and you might be surprised at just what happens.
Shelli Varela: I love it. Thank you so much, Dan, for your time. This has been awesome and inspirational. Because the truth is, everybody out there sitting on a passion, and their passion just might be the business that sets their life free. So, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate you.
Dan Netting: No problem at all.
Stu McLaren: I hope you love that story. It’s amazing, right? That’s what It’s a TRIBE Thing is all about. So, many people in all kinds of niche markets are leveraging their existing knowledge and influence and they’re transforming it into passive monthly income. Listen, this isn’t luck. There’s a repeatable formula for producing a growing subscription income and each week we’re going behind the scenes to show you exactly how they did it. Get the latest stories and actionable ideas from each episode at www.ItsaTRIBEThing.com and if you know one other person who could benefit from this, tell them to subscribe. Tell them to go to ItsaTRIBEThing.com.
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