My guest for Episode #203 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Bret Ridgway. He is a 25 year veteran of the speaking industry and brings a unique perspective handling the back of the room sales table at 150+ conferences, providing fulfillment services for some of the biggest names in the industry and speaking on many stages himself. He's also the host of the Spotlight on Speaking podcast.
He's the author of eight books focused on speakers, authors, information marketers and event promoters, including:
His latest book is How to Build a Profitable Speaking Business.
In this episode, Bret shares his favorite mistake story about not having the confidence in himself to get out from behind the scenes — helping authors and speakers — to get up on stage to share what he knows in a way that helps others. How did he discover this pattern? How did he take action and what adjustments did he make? We also discuss some of the biggest mistakes that speakers and authors make. And why write books about mistakes? How does that help others?
Questions and Topics:
- Working “the back of the room” to help other speaker / authors
- Writing and speaking fear — having the fear of sharing ideas in both ways?
- Taking baby steps to get started? Forced into it
- Fear – content-related or presence related?
- Not beating yourself up? Gotten better about that?
- Why write books about mistakes?
- Are some of the same mistakes being made now by information marketers?
- Doing a book as digital only – mistake?
- Mistake to not have an audiobook?
- Mistake to not do a paperback / Kindle?
- Book as a marketing tool – lead generator
- Working with publishers vs. “self publishing”?
- Some of the worst speaker mistakes?
Scroll down to find:
- Video clips from the episode
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
Find Bret on social media:
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 203, Bret Ridgway, author of multiple books on mistakes.
Bret Ridgway (6s):
So happy being behind the scenes for years and not getting up in front of people is honestly probably my biggest mistake.
Mark Graban (16s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes. But what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at MyFavoriteMistakepodcast.com to learn more about Bret, all of his books speaking, and more. Look for links in the show notes, or go to markGraban.com/mistake203. As always, thanks for listening.
Mark Graban (57s):
Well, hi everybody. Welcome to My Favorite Mistake. I'm Mark Graban. And our guest today is Bret Ridgway. He's a 25 year veteran in the speaking industry. He brings a unique perspective handling the back of the room sales table at more than 150 conferences. He's provided fulfillment services for some of the biggest names in the industry, and he is spoken on many stages as well. He's the author of seven books focused on speakers, authors, information marketers, and event promoters, including, I'm gonna mention it's just three. And you're gonna realize Bret is totally in the right place for this podcast. One of them is 50 biggest mistakes I see Information Marketers make. Another is Mistakes Authors Make. And then the third is 50 biggest Website Mistakes.
Mark Graban (1m 39s):
So again, Bret, thank you for being here. We're gonna hear your story, and gosh, we're gonna have a lot to talk about today. How are
Bret Ridgway (1m 45s):
You? Well, my pleasure to be with you today, mark, and, and certainly I think we can share some, some good war stories with your listeners and mistakes that they should avoid, whether they're a, a speaker or an author or just an entrepreneur in any field. So looking forward to it. Yeah,
Mark Graban (1m 58s):
And I'm, as I'm working on my new book here, I'm gonna, I'm gonna take a deeper look through mistakes authors make and, and, and, and try to head off, you know, it's good to prevent mistakes when we can, but they're still gonna happen, so let's learn from 'em. And in the spirit of that, Bret, thinking back to the work that you've done, what's your favorite mistake?
Bret Ridgway (2m 19s):
You know, mark, I was all prepared this morning to talk about the time that I was supposed to be a guest on a radio show. And it was a weird time. It was like on a Sunday afternoon, I got home from church, got busy doing stuff, and just totally spaced it. And I beat myself up for weeks over that, you know, and learned the problems with scheduling all that. But the, as I was thinking about it more this morning, it's like, you know, honestly, mark, my biggest mistake is I know what I've known, and I've known it for like, you know, the good part of 20 plus years. But my biggest mistake is probably not having the courage to step out there on my own and offer to people what I have learned along the way to help them avoid those mistakes. And so, you know, it, it's about self-confidence and courage and not being in my right mind to step forward and say, okay, Bret, you do have value that you need to add to the world here.
Bret Ridgway (3m 8s):
And so, you know, being so happy, being behind the scenes for years and not getting up in front of people is honestly probably my biggest mistake.
Mark Graban (3m 16s):
So how did you discover that then, Bret? I mean, it sounds like, you know, there, there's a, a part of the story here of, you know, kind of discovering that pattern, kind of noticing it, deciding at some point to take action. Bret, take us through more of that.
Bret Ridgway (3m 31s):
So, so, you know, a little bit of the backstory, mark, I, so I got my start of the speaking industry back in 1999 when I was asked to handle the backroom sales table at an internet marketing conference in Las Vegas. And honestly, I didn't even know what bathroom sales meant at that time, but I hadn't been to Las Vegas before, so it sounded good to me. And I, and I went out and agreed to do that for a guy. Well, that got to where I started to meet some of the speakers in the info and internet marketing spaces. And that led to a formation of a company called Speaker Fulfillment Services in 2003, where we handled the product duplication and fulfillment for a lot of the big names. And so I had, I had developed this shtick of, you know, I was the back of the room guy, you know, I was the mysterious behind the scenes guy doing all these things, handling all the money, you know, and I wasn't comfortable being up in front of the room, even though as time went by, I started to, you know, you know, Bret, you do have some things here you need to share, and you need to get over your own lack of confidence about being in front of the room and, and getting up on that stage yourself and, and doing some sharing or whatever.
Bret Ridgway (4m 34s):
So I was, I, I finally overcame that hurdle about, you know, 10 years after the fulfillment kind been formed. So I'm going back into the early teens or whatever, and it, it was, it was a journey of self-awareness and self-confidence as much as anything Mark. And, you know, I would encourage people out there, if you're listening to this and you feel like you have a message you need to share with the world to, you know, summon up that courage or whatever you wanna call it, the fortitude to share that message with others.
Mark Graban (5m 0s):
And, and that could be, as a speaker, it could be writing a book. I mean, did did you feel that way about writing as well? Yeah. Were you kinda holding yourself back? Was there a confidence issue there?
Bret Ridgway (5m 11s):
No, not so much as a writer, honestly, because it was still kind of a behind the scenes, so to speak, thing. I mean, the first book I wrote was actually about back the room sales tips that, you know, little things that event promoters could do that would cause them to maybe not have as great as success as they could have at their event. And, and, and it was little mistakes, you know, nothing that by itself maybe would derail an event entirely, but the, the accumulation of little in seemingly insignificant things, you know, added up to where you just didn't get maybe the results that you expected. And so I was always in the mind that, you know, if I'm gonna write and, and I, writing comes fairly easily to me, but it's always gonna be what I call bite size chunk type thing.
Bret Ridgway (5m 57s):
So, you know, tips, books, quick reads, you know, a hundred, 120 pages at the most type thing. Now, the mistakes authors make book is a little bit longer than my norms certainly. But it was one of those things where if you have that message to share, then I'd like your, to your point exactly Mark, figure out what the best way to get that content out there, whether it is as a speaker, as an author, or, or whatever it may be. And, and you can do it in baby steps, so to speak, but share your message with the world.
Mark Graban (6m 26s):
So I, I was gonna, it's funny you bring up the phrase baby steps, cuz I, I, I love that strategy. Or we could frame it as, you know, go, go, go and try maybe in a low stakes, small audience kind of situation and give it a try. What, what were your first baby steps of an experiment, if you will, of saying, okay, I am gonna get in front of people, let, let, let me try it and see, is that a mistake or is it something that I can learn from and improve upon?
Bret Ridgway (6m 54s):
You know, I, I was actually forced into it, mark, to be honest with you. I, I was, I was part of a group that had created a, a product called Smart Seminar Marketing. It was all about how to put on live events. And because I, part of the group, they said, you are speaking outta our live event, Bret, whether you like it or not. So, you know, preparing 90 minute presentation about backroom sales and all that. And so it forced me to the forefront. And certainly, you know, as you do anything, you get more comfortable with it over time. I mean, I'm not the world's most eloquent speaker by any stretch of imagination, but I I, but it's more about the content you had to share than how good you are with your ums or hers or whatever it may be. So I was forced into, to the front of the stage.
Bret Ridgway (7m 36s):
And then because of the people that I had gotten to know in the speaking industry over the years, that did open up other opportunities for me, for people putting on events and say, Hey, hey, I'm available now. And honestly, mark it, it changes the dynamics greatly if you're a speaker, if you are selling from the platform or whether you're just up there to deliver content only. And I, I was, I had the fallback position of being a content only provider. So at these multi-speaker events, typically you have, you know, speaker pitch, speaker pitch, speaker pitch, speaker pitch, you know, so I would be brought in by the event promoter to provide a buffer talk, you know, talk for 30 or 45 minutes about something just sharing content, but no pitch involved.
Bret Ridgway (8m 18s):
And so that, that gave me break to the audience about what they were gonna, you know, they didn't, they weren't gonna get Pitch Fest mindset entirely because they were some breaks of content only sessions. And so there was much less pressure on me being in front of the room because I wasn't trying to sell something. Again, that totally changes that dynamics of representation in my opinion. And it's something that I certainly haven't mastered fully yet. But it's something that if you want to be a speaker, you do have to master that skill if you wanna be a platform seller.
Mark Graban (8m 49s):
Yeah. And you know, it seems like that fear of public speaking could be broken down into a couple categories. One is fear of like, do I have anything really worth saying or people, you know, gonna be, how, how are people gonna react to the content? It could be lack of confidence in that, or it could be lack of confidence in terms of, well, how am I gonna come across on stage? Am I eloquent? Do I have a commanding enough persona? Wh wh which of those fears do you think is, is more common? Or, or people might have both fears?
Bret Ridgway (9m 24s):
Yeah, I think both to some extent now, which is a dominant one. You know, it's hard to say. I mean, people have fear of embarrassing themselves, honestly, and saying something stupid or stumbling over words and all that. And yeah, I mean, you need to remember that by and large, the audience is cheering for you. They want you to succeed. And if you just speak from the heart and, and share the content that you have to share, it's about a, a conversation with the audience. It's not about, you know, a monologue or whatever. So, you know, you have people that, you know, they're, they're on your side by and large, honestly. And if you come from the mindset of, I'm just giving, it's not about what I can get from this audience, it's about what I can give and share, then you can build that rapport and have greater success.
Bret Ridgway (10m 7s):
But it's definitely something mark that the more you do, the more comfortable you will get with it. I mean, I I, I've spoken at events where I felt like I stumbled all over the place, and it's very hard for me, honestly, to go back and look at a video of a presentation after the fact and critique myself. But you, but you need to get over that certainly, and, and do that and figure out what you can do to improve. And it's like you said about those baby steps, and you're improving as a speaker is certainly about continual baby steps to get sharper and sharper at your craft. Yeah.
Mark Graban (10m 37s):
And I think as we take those baby steps and we try to review our own work, or let's say if we're working with a coach who can review our work and give us feedback and, and help, I mean, I'll come back to a phrase you used earlier about not beating yourself up. Like whether it was missing, blowing it and missing that radio appearance or making a mistake on, on stage or have, have, have you, what are your, I mean, have you, I'm making a mistake at home. I'm trying to ask this question. Have, have you gotten better about not, I'm gonna not beat myself up for, for that. Have you gotten better, Bret, about not beating yourself up over mistakes?
Bret Ridgway (11m 14s):
Yeah, I, yeah, I certainly have. And it's one of those things I think, mark, where, you know, I, I actually realized years ago, and this is probably going back 20 more years, I, I was working for an industrial training company and I was this salesperson. So I was selling high ticket industrial training via the telephone to military basis, power plants, you know, GMs, companies like that. And I, I was, I, I remember it very well. I was at my girlfriend's place at the time, now, my wife of 38 years, but I was at my girlfriend's house, so I'm going back 38 years. Wow. Man, I'm dating myself here. Good
Mark Graban (11m 50s):
Bret Ridgway (11m 50s):
But, but anyway, the one of our instructors called me up on a Friday afternoon and said, I'm not going to my class on Monday. I quit or whatever. And like, oh my God, this is the worst thing in the world. What are we gonna do? You know, the company's gonna collapse or whatever. This is just terrible, terrible. And, and then, you know, as it turned out, the client was willing to reschedule. We send another instructor in and, and it turned out fine. It's like, you know, these things that happened that you were just killing yourself over, Bret, they're not the end of the world. You know, don't blow things outta proportion. Take this drive, figure out what your next logical step is, and then get it taken care of. So, you know, yes, I beat myself up over the missed interview because it was like, oh, Bret, you're so stupid.
Bret Ridgway (12m 30s):
Why did you do that? And, you know, I did everything my power to make it right and, you know, offer up what I could to promote promoter or the host or whatever. But, you know, I had burned that bridge, but he's like, all right, Bret, you got, you just gotta move on. You just gotta move on and it, the next opportunity will come and you go from there. So, yeah.
Mark Graban (12m 48s):
Yeah, I mean, I think it's a matter of finding a balance of, you know, reflecting and examining our work and trying to think of how, how can I do better next time? And then putting it behind us. I, I think even sometimes just articulating it to somebody else or writing it in some notes or a journal, maybe we process it and put it behind us as opposed to dwelling on it.
Bret Ridgway (13m 10s):
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. And you know, unfortunately, you know, in my position from the backroom market, I've been able to see mistakes that speakers make and, and others make at any event, promoters and all that. And so, you know, my current mission is to share what I've learned along the way from that back learning perspective and meet up on stage, but more so from the backroom perspective so that the aspiring speaker can learn, you know, he's, our here are mistakes that you may not have, think that people would make or whatever, but, you know, don't do these types of things. And so, yeah, I actually have written a new book, so I'm up to eight books now, and the newest one, the newest one's coming out in March called How to Build a Profitable Speaking Business. And it'll share a lot of war stories and all that about mistakes.
Bret Ridgway (13m 51s):
I've seen speakers make that honestly, literally Mark have sometimes cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it's like, wow, you know, how, how could you do this even though you're just shaking your head and this lessons learned.
Mark Graban (14m 3s):
Yeah. So let, let's let, let's come back to those big mistakes and I'll, I'll update the introduction, in least in the show notes to reflect eight books and, and link to the new one there. But I, I wanna talk a little bit first about, about small mistakes, and, and I was gonna disclose, I mean, look, I make mistakes all the time. I'm not shy about talking about them. I tried misspelling your name two, both of your names in my show notes originally, I tried putting a second t at the end of Bret. I tried putting a e in the middle of Ridgway. Yeah. But thankfully I caught the mistake sooner
Bret Ridgway (14m 41s):
Mark Graban (14m 42s):
Later, right? It's better than publishing the episode and, and having your name wrong at that point. So I'm gonna embrace the idea of I made the mistake early. If I hadn't caught it, hopefully you would've caught it. And so it goes, let's, you
Bret Ridgway (14m 57s):
Know, I I appreciate your diligence, mark. Yeah. I usually have to say, my name is Bret Ridgway, one T no E in Ridgway. You know, that's pretty much how you have to say it your whole life. So
Mark Graban (15m 6s):
It would be a mistake otherwise
Bret Ridgway (15m 7s):
Goes with the territory. Yeah.
Mark Graban (15m 9s):
So, you know, before we come back and talk about some of the big mistakes that, that speakers or, or authors might make, what, I mean, what was your inspiration in general? Was, was the first book about mistakes, the one 50 biggest Mistakes I see Information Marketers make.
Bret Ridgway (15m 25s):
The first book actually was the View from the back book about the back of the room tip for event promoters.
Mark Graban (15m 30s):
But, but the first book about mistakes, I mean, what mistakes
Bret Ridgway (15m 34s):
Encouraged title was, yeah, the, the information marketers books, because we were handling product fulfillment for a lot of people. So we saw how they put their courses together, how they marketed their courses, how they did their bonuses, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And so it was just a accumulation of tips based on what I had seen from working with, like I said, some of the big names, people like Armon Moore, Alex Mondo, Ryan Dice, Mike Phil. Same, I mean, if you've been in the internet marketing space, you know, they're, they're names that you would know certainly because they've been in the industry for 20 years or whatever. But it was, again, the formats a tips book. So it's quick to consume because, you know, one of the biggest mistakes I think any type of information marketer makes is not making their information as consumable as possible, whether it's in the book form, a home study course, an audio, a video, a membership site, whatever.
Bret Ridgway (16m 25s):
I mean, there's little things that you can do to make your information more consumable, because if somebody doesn't, if you can't even get somebody to read your book, mark, what's a chance of them to coming back to you for a, a follow up product or service that you may have, you know, about, about zero or whatever. So, you know, mistakes certainly across the board for information marketers is what am I doing to make this as consumable as possible for my reader, listener, viewer, you know, whatever form modality of, of learning that you're putting out there. Yeah.
Mark Graban (16m 54s):
So I mean, related to that, is it a mistake to rely only on one format? Like, so what I'm, I've been thinking through at the podcast here, you know, people, some people listen to the podcast. I think more people read books, which is part of my inspiration than for doing a book on this theme. Like, is it important to try to hit people in different formats considering different people consume information differently, or they have different products?
Bret Ridgway (17m 17s):
Yeah. Well, with without a doubt, mark. I mean, you gotta look at all the learning modalities that exist out there. And some people are visual, some people are auditory, some people are kinesthetic. They want experiential, other people are readers. And you need to figure out, obviously for your target audience, what is the primary way they wish to consume information. And that should be your primary method of delivering your content. But there will be people you lose along the way or, or leave out of the equation because you don't have the ability for them to consume your information, maybe in their preferred format. So, I mean, you can't be all things to all people, but you need to address as many of those as possible so that there are options available to them for consuming your content.
Bret Ridgway (17m 58s):
Mark Graban (17m 59s):
So, on on that note, what are your thoughts around audiobooks? Is it a mistake to not do an audiobook to reach people who prefer to listen instead of read?
Bret Ridgway (18m 8s):
Yeah, I, I think it is. And I mean, if you're an author and you're working with a publisher, you need to ask them, certainly is doing an audio version of this part of the equation. Do you recommend that? Because I mean, we've seen the massive explosiveness of podcasts in the last couple years. I mean, thousands and thousands and thousands upon thousands of podcasts. And, you know, it's the way that the auditory learner likes to consume content now. So if you are a, a content provider, yeah, podcast is something you need to steer and be looking at doing because it will let you reach more people that wish to consume content in that particular format. Yeah,
Mark Graban (18m 46s):
Yeah. And so that, that first mistakes book about information marketers that was written in 2011, I'm curious, do you still see, you know, technologies have changed, there's different platforms, but do you see, are there some of those mistakes that are still being made in 2023?
Bret Ridgway (19m 2s):
You know, certainly because, I mean, as you said, the, the ma the industry's changed massively over the last 15 years. I mean, when I founded the fulfillment company 20 years ago, it was all about the big box package funk value. I mean, so you get that home study course with three manuals and 10 DVDs and 10 CDs all packaged together. It was all about funk value. Well, as the internet took over and it became more a, a delivery method, doing things digitally, then yeah, the, the, let's just say the homestead course went on a on a massive diet. I mean, so yeah, you still have people that do physical products and honestly think it's a massive mistake to not offer something physical for your content, whether it's a book or homestead course or whatever, because there are still people that like the tangible, they like the feel of value.
Bret Ridgway (19m 53s):
And you know, it's so easy outta sight outta mind if you're delivering a digital only product. And you do have the issue of perceived value that you need to deal with. I mean, it's like you sell a homestead course and you're gonna deliver it digitally only, and it's like, I paid 4 97 for that. I mean, they, they didn't feel like they got any back cuz there wasn't anything physical. I mean actually, you know, several years ago had a client mark that had a home study course that she was selling for $497. And the attractiveness of the digital world caught her eye as it did many, many, many information marketers. And so she decided to convert it to a digital product at 4 97.
Bret Ridgway (20m 36s):
And fortunately she had the foresight, let's just say, to continue to offer a physical version of product. But she did that at a higher price, 6 97. So as it turned out, 80% of her customers were willing to pay the extra $200 to still get the physical version of the course cuz they wanted that tangible goods or whatever. So, massive mistake in my mind is going digital, only diving into the digital only pond and not offering anything physical for your customers, because there will be many that still want that physical format. And if you don't have it available, you're gonna be missing out on some people that you certainly could impact.
Mark Graban (21m 16s):
Yeah. And then, you know, let, let, let's talk more about books and, and, and authors and or publishing. It's, it's probably a mistake. Yeah. It's cheaper to produce a Kindle book. Probably a mistake to not also have a physical book kind of along those same lines.
Bret Ridgway (21m 35s):
Oh yeah, without a doubt. And honestly, I don't do Kindle books, mark. I mean, if I got a book, if I got a book I wanna read, I'm gonna buy the physical version so I can, you know, easily pick it up and highlight it or whatever. I don't want to consume information by looking at a computer. I mean, if I order a PDF online, I'm gonna put the damn thing out because I'm not gonna read it on my computer and it doesn't matter how many pages it is. So yeah, I, I think it is a mistake to do digital only for your books because again, outside outta mind easily, I mean, how many things have you downloaded Mark where you downloaded, maybe even paid for it and then forgot you had, it's just sitting on your computer hidden somewhere.
Mark Graban (22m 17s):
Guilty. Guilty. I mean, and, and I think it comes back to the point of different customers have different preferences. I know some people who are, they stole love reading on paper for me, a lot of times it comes down, I'm in the move a lot. So if I have a paper book sitting there, the paper book might just be in the wrong place. There's, there's trade-offs, but
Bret Ridgway (22m 38s):
Certainly with anything, yeah. But there's also a value in, in that shelf space. So, you know, you have those beautiful shelfs behind you. Well, if somebody has a book on your shelf or a home city course, you're gonna see it from time to time. And it's a reminder of, of what it is and the value that they bring where you'll never see that digital file on your computer again, probably ever. Yeah.
Mark Graban (22m 57s):
Yeah. And then there are times, there are books that I love where I've gotten one of each format, the bookshelf that I can lend to somebody else, or, you know, it's, let's say if an, if it's an author, I know, I don't mind supporting them kind of, you know, doubly Yeah. By, by, by doing both versions. So let, let's talk about some other mistakes authors make. Thinking back to the title of another one of your books, we, we've touched on a few already. What, what, what's, you know, what either most common or biggest or maybe an overlap of, of those most common biggest mistakes?
Bret Ridgway (23m 32s):
Yeah, we touched on it briefly, mark, but I, i, I do wanna emphasize, I think consumability of your book is critical. And if you're laying out your book, you gotta think about what am I gonna do to make this book as consumable as possible for my reader? So if you do big, blocky long, you know, sections of text and there's no break for the eye in terms of a charter or graph or a pull quote or whatever, then it's one of those things where will, that will hurt the conception of your book. I mean, think about book authors. You know, if I'm, if I'm going into a book store or maybe I wanna read before bed, I pick up a book, look at the next chapter and it's 30 fricking pages long, it's like, ah, it's too much work to get through that chapter. I'm not even gonna start or whatever. Right? And so, you know, big long chapters are a massive mistake in my mind.
Bret Ridgway (24m 15s):
I mean, think about, who is it the author James Patterson. I don't know if you've ever read any James Patterson, but I
Mark Graban (24m 20s):
I, he's a novelist, right? He's
Bret Ridgway (24m 22s):
Mark Graban (24m 22s):
Don't read novels, but
Bret Ridgway (24m 24s):
His chapters are like two to three pages long. Yeah. It's like, well, I could read another chapter or I could read another chapter, or I could read another chapter. Next thing even know you read that 30 or 50 or the whole book, because it's consumable, it's bite-sized chunks. So definitely think about the consumption of your book as you're having it laid out. Another thing I think, particularly if you're a non-fiction author, mark, is you gotta think about the book primarily should be a marketing tool for you. I mean, if you, if you can get to New York Times bestseller, great, wonderful, but you know, those people are few and far between. Those are the Tony Robbins and the Joe policy to the world that can get that kind of status or whatever. So the book is a lead generator primarily. So what are you doing within that book to drive them from the book to your website so you can capture the information and then do follow up marketing to them.
Bret Ridgway (25m 10s):
And if you're an author who has any kind of platform whatsoever, and you're driving traffic, you're speaking engagements or whatever it may be to Amazon to buy your book, you're absolutely crazy. I mean, because it's Amazon's customer not yours, you make a lot less money because Amazons gonna take their 45% or 55% cut or whatever it is. They don't call you up and say, Hey Bret, you know, Frankie Fresh brought your book and here's his contact information, said you can go sell 'em something, it's their customer or not yours. And you don't have the ability then to include additional information, whether it's a sales sheet or a catalog or a postcard or a bookmark or whatever in your outgoing shipment if Amazon's handling the whole mix for you. So, I mean, if you have any kind of platform at all, drive them to your own website, not to Amazon to buy your book, offer them author signed copies or whatever so that you know, there's an extra incentive to get it from you because you can't do Amazon's, you know, author signed copies at Amazon very easily.
Bret Ridgway (26m 4s):
Let's just say that. Right, right.
Mark Graban (26m 5s):
So as, as you think about trying to help drive people to your site, your website, your platform, your other services, how do you find the balance? Is it a mistake to somehow come across as too salesy where like, oh, the book is just self promotional instead of being focused on the content and also trying to bring people to the website? Cause I've read some stuff to me where it felt like it was kind of self-aggrandizing, self-promotional, it was kind of a turn off to me as a reader.
Bret Ridgway (26m 32s):
Yeah, I mean, it can be a fine line that you walk. I think the key is to come up with, you know, whether you call it a lead magnet or an ethical bribe or whatever that you're gonna mention in the book, they need to immediately recognize that, that it is something of value, something they would like to receive that would help them out. And so they're willing to make that trade of their name and email address for whatever that content is. But it is gotta be from a, you gotta come at it from a standpoint of you're giving, it's about giving you value and then making it so enticing because it's something that maybe they can't get somewhere else or something that they're, you know, you created that curiosity factor. It's like, I, I really wanna find out what that's about. So I'm willing to give my name an email address in order to get whatever that content is.
Bret Ridgway (27m 13s):
So yeah, you gotta walk a fine line sometimes without a doubt in terms of sales versus content, but you need to certainly approach it from a giving standpoint and then the rest will fall from there.
Mark Graban (27m 25s):
Yeah, and that's an interesting phrase, ethical bribe. But like I said, it's gotta be something of value, not having someone feel tricked into giving up their contact information to get nothing in return.
Bret Ridgway (27m 37s):
Mark Graban (27m 39s):
Lemme ask a question of you that, that often gets thrown to me. I've, I've gone through, you know, traditional publishers and I've self-published and I'm, I'm staying in that direction. How, how do you answer if someone asks you, Hey Bret, I've got this book idea. Is it, should I go through a publisher or, or try to release it myself?
Bret Ridgway (27m 56s):
You know, that's a tough question and you need to look at all sides of the equation, determine what's right for you. I honestly considered self-publishing my, my newest book because it had been, I had written or whatever, and it's like, all right, let's get it out there. But after a lot of consideration, I decided to go with the, the person or the company that had published my previous books because I felt the benefits of doing that outweighed the benefits of me self-publishing. Yes, I would've got it out there soon, revised self-published, but in the end it wouldn't have been as good probably as, as the book will be because of the route that I took. I mean, they'll get it into bookstores, which I didn't wanna have to mess with that, doing that myself.
Bret Ridgway (28m 38s):
I mean, they did make me get a professional copy editor for this one, which Id never done in the past, but they maybe get a professional copy editor and, you know, so I had to spend a few hundred bucks there that I wasn't prepared to spend. But it's like, all right, if that's what I gotta do, that's what I gotta do. But as it turned out, it did make the book a lot better. I mean, so it improved the consumability of the book by, you know, making the sentences more to say legible for lack of another term.
Mark Graban (29m 7s):
Cause it's a consumability factor again,
Bret Ridgway (29m 9s):
That's part of it. And then, you know, if you're self-publishing, everything falls on you. So you gotta get that cover design, you know, you gotta get it edited yourself, you gotta work out your back cover copy. You gotta work out the interior layout. I mean, there, there's so many moving parts to getting a book done that's like, all right, which of these are my strengths? You know, which of these do I really have the time to do? And which of these am I better off paying somebody else to do? Because it is not either within my skillset when, or it's not within my passion or whatever. I mean, I, I know people that, you know, you look at their business, and it could be in any number of arenas, mark, but you know, you know, for example, I know a guy who's a multimillionaire in the internet marketer.
Bret Ridgway (29m 53s):
He still loves doing his own graphics. He could pay somebody else all day long to do the graphics for his websites or whatever, but he loves to do it. It's a passion of his and for he's in the position that he can afford to do that, you know, take that time. But it's not the best use of this time, honestly. But, you know, it's his passion. So what do you, what are you passionate for? What do you have the skill set for and what do you have the time to do yourself? I mean, going with the traditional publisher, push the, deliver, you know, the release of the book back several months, right? Probably, probably would've been out in January if I had done the sale publishing route. But it, again, it wouldn't have been as good as good a book because of the copy editing. So going with the judicial publisher is pushing the release on my website back to March and, and going through the bookstores and Amazon, all that back to October.
Bret Ridgway (30m 37s):
So paid off in anything in life and so felt like, felt like it was a good trade.
Mark Graban (30m 42s):
Yeah. And, and I would agree, there are, there are pros and cons, there are trade-offs. I, I think it's a mistake to use the term self-publishing because I don't do it all myself. Like, I agree with you, you know, hiring a copy editor, hiring someone to do a professional cover, you, you know, you can, you can hire an editor to work with you that would probably, you know, in, in, in, in previous experience working with a publisher, I didn't really have anyone to collaborate with. They wanted me to basically throw the manuscript at them and they would do copy editing, they would do proofreading. But yeah, I think sometimes like having, you know, a, a quote unquote developmental editor, I mean, you know, they're, they're, you could hire a team of people Yeah. To work with you or a service that is sort of like the general contractor for the book without taking publishing duties, you know, formally.
Mark Graban (31m 29s):
So there's, there's a lot of options.
Bret Ridgway (31m 31s):
Just remember, it's gonna probably cost you more money and take more time than you thought initially. Yeah. Yeah.
Mark Graban (31m 37s):
So Bret, let's talk about the new book and, and speaker mistakes and, and remind us of the title of, of this new
Bret Ridgway (31m 44s):
Book. Sure. The new book Releasing mid-March on my br Ridgway.com website will be How to Build a Profitable Speaking Business. Yeah. And it's all about, you know, sharing what I've learned in the 25 years behind the scenes and up on stage, but more so behind the scenes, honestly, mark, about, you know, what you don't want to do because so much of your success as a speaker, or honestly anything in life is about not as is as much about what you do, but even maybe more so about what you don't do. Hmm. And I, I, I've seen speakers make mistakes. It cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it's like one of those, oops. Yeah. I don't wanna make that mistake. So, you know, it's gotta be a lot of war stories and things like that that I, that I've seen that are, are really eyeopening to somebody who's aspiring to be a speaker, but they maybe haven't been in the industry yet.
Mark Graban (32m 31s):
Yeah. So, I mean, I want people to still go and read the book, but can you give me one of those really expensive Oh,
Bret Ridgway (32m 38s):
Mark Graban (32m 39s):
Bret Ridgway (32m 40s):
Yeah. Several years ago we were managing the bathroom in advance, and the speaker had the situation occur that every speaker dreams of the true table rush. So they did a wonderful presentation and people were flooded to the back table throwing their credit cards at us to order this particular product. And as I recall, mark was a, it was some type of internet marketing tool, software or whatever for creating websites quickly or whatever. So we processed for this particular speaker, $375,000 worth of sales in, you know, for one 90 minute presentation. Well, as it turned out, there was some kind of bug in the software, and they could never get it to work properly.
Bret Ridgway (33m 20s):
So one month after the event, every single penny of $375,000 worth of sales had to be refunded to the attendees.
Mark Graban (33m 30s):
Oh my gosh.
Bret Ridgway (33m 31s):
So, I mean, not only was it a major embarrassment for the speaker, but a, you know, was a killer to the promoter, because typically at a multi-speaker conference, it's a 50 50 split between the speaker and the promoter on the back of sales. And honestly, it didn't help my pocketbook any, because we take a cut of the promoter's portion for handling the back of the room. Right. But, you know, it was one of those things where, in my opinion, it is a critical mistake to sell something from the stage that isn't yet fully tested and developed if it, particularly if it's a software type product. Now, if you're selling, you know, if you're selling a course that you're gonna be creating in real time, you know, that's a different ballgame altogether. But, you know, testing something or selling something that hasn't proven is a mistake.
Bret Ridgway (34m 13s):
We were at another event a few years after that, and the speaker, it wasn't on quite the same scale. I mean, it was a few, you know, 30 or $40,000, but, you know, they sold some type of program, said, listen, be ready to go in a week or two. And, and invariably one week turns into two and turns into four. And again, every penny had to be refunded because they just didn't meet their timeline that had been promised to the attendees. So now be very careful what you're gonna sell from the stage, because, you know, I don't think many of us could afford a $375,000 refund. So
Mark Graban (34m 46s):
That software testing is the equivalent of copy editing. And, you know, I mean, one, one advantage of self-publishing and or print on demand is inevitably a book will launch with a typo. I've seen this from professional publishers, and if they haven't printed a huge batch of books already, you can go in and fix that file. Yeah. And maybe only the first handful of copies go out with, with that typo, but yeah. Very important to,
Bret Ridgway (35m 11s):
Yeah. But if you're going with a traditional publisher who's gonna publish, you know, five or 10,000 copies of the book, it's like, all right, you know, books. But yeah, you're not gonna reprint all those. So yeah,
Mark Graban (35m 21s):
You, you don't want the mistake of a, a garage full of books with a horrible typo, or you need to just process it, live with it and move on. Because look, I mean, is somebody gonna say that book was terrible because there were a couple of typos? Probably not. Now if there's typos on every page, that could be off-putting, but, and
Bret Ridgway (35m 38s):
Actually, I've known authors, I've known authors, mark this, you know, made it a point, it was one of their selling points, Hey, you're gonna find some titles in this book, so just email me what they are. And, you know, they'll, they'll, you, you know, he's paying his readers to be his copy editors, essentially.
Mark Graban (35m 51s):
Bret Ridgway (35m 53s):
But he's doing low volume so that he can then make the corrections and move forward. So yeah,
Mark Graban (35m 57s):
For sure. So I guess today's been Bret Ridgway. You can find his website at Bret one t Ridgway, Noe in the middle. So I'll just put a link to that in the show notes. The, the, the, the, the new book, how to Build a Profitable Speaking Business. And then tell us also, Bre, before we go your new podcast.
Bret Ridgway (36m 18s):
Yeah, so my, actually my podcast is launching this week, mark, it's called Spotlight on Speaking. And I've been working hard to get a bunch of interviews recorded ahead of time. So I have about 32 interviews recorded already, but it'll be, it'll be releasing with initial nine episodes, hopefully tomorrow if there's no blips in the, in the schedule or whatever. But it is a podcast where I interview people that I have known in the speaking industry, whether they're either a, a keyer or a platform seller, or it could just be an entrepreneur who's using speaking as a business building tool. So they're not directly selling from the stage, but they have a message they wanna get out there and they wanna build their credibility as a chiropractor or a attorney, or whatever it may be.
Bret Ridgway (36m 58s):
So it's basically going to ask our, my guest, number one, tell me about your speaking journey and how'd you get into the business? Are you a platform seller or keynote, or kind of give us your, your backstory, so to speak. And then I have them share some of their keys to success for speaking. And then I ask them to bear their soul a bit and share maybe some mistakes they made along the way that they would advise others not to make. Yeah. So that, that's the basic formatted, and it's aimed at aspiring speakers. So people wanna get it in the industry, but they don't really have a freaking clue how the speaking industry really works. Yeah.
Mark Graban (37m 31s):
Well, I hope people will check that out released as we're recording this mid-January. It'll be available now as you're listening to this and go check it out. And I don't know, Bret, maybe there's a book in your future about podcasting mistakes.
Bret Ridgway (37m 45s):
Well, you know, it's funny you mention that. I, I probably at some point in time, you know, right now, I was writing down, all right, here's a, I was developing a big assessment checklist for speakers department. If an event is the right event for them to speak at, it's like, you know, so much of your success is about getting gigs, so how do you determine if a gig is really right for you? And so, you know, all the questions are that you need to look at and answer to determine if that's one you should be on. Yeah.
Mark Graban (38m 10s):
Well, I look forward to seeing the insights from, from the new book again, Bret Ridgway, thank you so much for joining us and, and sharing not, not only some of your journey. I appreciate you doing that and, and talking about some of the mistakes that hopefully others can learn from and either avoid making or learn from it the first time. So Bret, thank you. Thank you again.
Bret Ridgway (38m 33s):
My pleasure, Mark. Thank you so much.
Mark Graban (38m 35s):
Thanks again to our guest today, Bret Ridgway. To learn more about him, for links to his website and more, look in the show notes or go to MarkGraban.com/mistake203. As always, I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive. I've had listeners tell me they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work, and they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me MyFavoriteMistakepodcast@gmail.com.
Mark Graban (39m 15s):
And again, our website is MyFavoriteMistakePodcast.com.