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From eBay to Shopify: This Tech Reseller Achieves 6-Figure Monthly Sales

Brian Burke, founder of Renewed Macs and Sell Your Mac

In 2009, Brian Burke started to offer customers a trusted alternative to sell and buy refurbished Apple products. Originally operating on eBay, Brain migrated his business, RenewedMacs.com to Shopify to gain more control over the customer experience. In this episode of Shopify Masters, Brian shares with us the importance of personal branding, how he uses Linkedin to market his business, and his secret to achieving 6-figure monthly sales.

For the full transcript of this episode, click here.

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Show Notes

How this tech reseller moved from eBay to Shopify

Felix: You started in 2009–that’s quite a long time in the ecommerce space. How did you get started in the beginning? 

Brian: I've always loved ecommerce. It started off on eBay, buying and selling stuff there. In 2009 I realized I needed an inbound sales channel so that's when I built sellyourmac.com. It helped us get customers coming to our website and paying for their Apple products there instead of having to go through eBay. We've been growing that business organically, and each year we keep it going and help out more Apple customers.

Felix: You started on eBay. Why was it important to get your own platform up off the ground, when you already had this inbound sales channel up and going? 

Brian: The biggest thing for us was controlling the customer experience. That's the reason we launched our Shopify store. On eBay, they’ve stripped away more and more of the ability to control the customer experience and talk to your customers. For instance, when someone makes a purchase, you get a generic email. You can't even reach out to them directly by email. Knowing we could control the customer experience better and interact with them more was the reason that drove us to launch our Shopify store. The customer experience is what's going to keep people coming back. If you can't control that and they don't know you as your own brand, you're not going to have these customers very long.

Brian Burkealong with team members outside his physical store.
Wanting to control more of the customer experience, Brian Burke migrated his business from eBay to Shopify. RenewedMacs.com 

Felix: What instance made you realize that you needed to own the customer experience aspect? 

Brian: I wouldn't say the race to the bottom because we're still getting really good pricing, but when someone comes back to buy their next computer, they're not going to remember to go search for our eBay name. With our own platform, they're going to remember the Renewed Macs website. Trying to build that trust for the future and being able to delight our customers in that manner, is really important. If we can't even directly email our customers special offers or send them a gift or anything like that because we don't have their information, that's pretty tough.

Felix: Did you have any strategy in place, when you transitioned from the marketplace to your own platform, for customer acquisition or growth? 

Brian: The biggest thing that helped us was having all the content to put up. One of the best things I've done through my company since we started is focused on building a ton of content, mainly for SEO purposes. That's helped Sell Your Mac be the number one go-to source for everything Mac on Google. If you type in where to sell my mac, we're number one there. We’ve built up a lot of content with blogs and images. The images in particular helped us out when we were launching Renewed Macs so we could sync up images of all the products correctly and always make sure we're showing the customer the right thing. I think there are about 3000 different images that we had to pull together or some type of variation.

Felix: Give us an idea of the timeline surrounding Sell Your Mac and Renewed Macs. 

Brian: Sell Your Mac launched in 2009 and at the time we were still selling mainly on eBay. We work with other retail stores and wholesale buyers as well, but we really want to work directly with the customer. We see the most value in going to the end-user–both from the standpoint that we can sell them a computer that's been fully tested, 12 months warranty, and stuff like that, as opposed to just selling it wholesale. That’s why we needed to build the store–that direct customer experience on Shopify is amazing.

Navigating a supply based inventory model as a bootstrapped startup

Felix: Your business model is quite dependent on the supply of products. What unique challenges did you have to face with this sort of model? 

Brian: One of the challenges we had was with capital. As you're buying more products, you need a lot more inventory. You need to be able to have a wider product mix for your customer. We're purchasing these products before we actually sell them. A lot of people obviously are procuring inventory to sell on Shopify and they're having to prepay and stuff too. That's one of the biggest challenges in trying to grow your business quickly. You need to have a really good credit line. If you don't have multiple years of financials, a typical bank usually won't give you a good credit line. Trying to find a way to either not pay for your inventory until after you sell it or pre-sell it is sometimes the only option. You have to get creative in order to grow your business quickly with a little bit of money. That was our biggest challenge out of the gate–getting enough sales volume and profit to support a better inventory level.

Felix: When buying from the manufacturer, how did you manage that risk of not really knowing for sure what kind of product you get from one day to the next?

Brian: Like you said, it's not that consistent. There are thousands of Apple SKUs out there. If someone's starting out, they could certainly hone what they're buying. Focus on certain years or certain device types. Focus on the iPhone for example and not worry about all the Macs. We do know a lot about the product when we're getting it–we request serial numbers upfront so we can confirm exactly what the specs are. We check everything once it arrives and makes sure it all matches up, and communicate if it doesn't. That is definitely a challenge. Having a smaller product mix would be a great advantage for someone starting out.

Two trucks filled with boxes side by side with a fulfillment worker in each vehicle.
Balancing supply and demand of refurbished devices is a constant battle for Brian and his team. RenewedMacs.com 

Felix: How did you find the balance between the supply and demand side of the model? 

Brian: It's certainly tough. This last year especially, there was insane demand at the start of the pandemic, but there was no supply on the wholesale buying side. All the businesses were closed and they didn't have anything they could sell you and all the consumers were needing their devices or passing them down to their kids to do school at home. It dried up and messed with the pricing in the market–people were paying crazy prices. Then it came crashing down halfway through the pandemic. My takeaway from that is only hold inventory that you really need–because prices do fluctuate a lot–but if you see an opportunity to stock up, whether it's before the holidays or something like that, you need to take advantage. It's hard to sell something you don't have in stock.

Using quizzes to mitigate choice paralysis and stimulate purchases 

Felix: Did you remember a distinct moment where you transitioned from a bartering system, to an actual shop? I imagine in the beginning it was a lot of mismatched inventory. 

Brian: It took five or six years to get to that level where we had a wide breadth of inventory and enough of it that satisfied most people. We honestly still run into this challenge. If you email and ask for a specific unit, I might not have it. The inventory turns pretty quickly, so I might have had it two days ago, but not today. It is a challenge trying to keep the right amount of SKUs in stock and our technology doesn't go to the point that it knows it needs to buy a SKU that’s selling out. But our pricing model does adjust for our inventory. If we're super heavily stocked on something, we're not going to keep paying top dollar for it. It's constantly adjusting for what our inventory is and helping us try to get out to the market and find what we need.

Felix: Yeah. One thing that I've noticed too when I'm on Renewed Macs and I'm sure when you are selling on eBay as well, was that it's very tech-specific or tech-driven rather. The specs were out there when I'm browsing the shop, which I think is a little bit more, again, technically heavy than if you went to apple.com and try to buy a laptop. Are you catering more towards a certain demographic that knows exactly what they want, knows about what an SSD is, knows about what a 2.4 gigahertz core is. How much education is involved in making sure that the consumer's not coming here and being overwhelmed by, oh man, there are so many different numbers that I'm confused?

Brian: Now that you mention it, maybe there are too many numbers. The biggest difference between us and Apple is that Apple's only selling their current line of products. If you went to their refurbished or clearance store, for example, it gets a little bit more tech-heavy on the specs. Nowadays they're like we have the new iPad Pro, the latest MacBook Air. It is what it is versus we're catering to our market that is buying renewed devices and the specs out there. Typically we want to tell a customer everything we possibly can to help avoid any questions about the specs. But I can see your point about potentially making it easier for someone to understand what they're getting.

We started something called a product quiz. I don't know which product quiz app we use, but I know there's a lot out there that integrates with Shopify and that's really helped us increase our conversions significantly. Someone comes to the site, and like you said, they don't know exactly what they're looking for. They start that quiz, narrow it down. 13 inch. I need maybe this type of year or this type of memory and it tells them the exact options that work for them. It makes it really easy if you don't know all the specs to just describe your work and find a product that's right for you.

Felix: What sort of marketing techniques did you use on the supply side of the business? 

Brian: Ours is mostly organic, which stemmed from being a bootstrapped startup. We didn't raise any money to plow into our marketing and we don't have anyone that does marketing besides me. We did create a lot of content around each Apple computer that's come out in the last 12 years or so, and that's helped drive people to the website. If you search for a specific Apple product from the past there's only a few companies that tend to have a lot of content around it and that's helped us out a lot. Then making sure that we really figured out what keywords we wanted to go after and continually making content that includes those words. We've added thousands of pages to the website for each Apple device that's come out and that's our biggest strategy–constantly staying up on SEO.

How to use product images as the backbone of a successful organic SEO strategy

Felix: Tell us a little bit about the specific content you’re producing for your SEO strategy.

Brian: We need to do more on the Renewed Macs side. On the Sell Your Mac side, it's been mostly around creating individual pages for each device. We systematically pulled all the specs together and created these pages to tell customers what products are. When people are searching for them they'll land on there and then they have the option to buy or sell that device. That brings in a lot of traffic.

Felix: How do you tactically create a lot of highly targeted SEO focus pages? 

Brian: A lot of it was creating a database that housed information for every single product. Then, when you're creating the pages, you can do it systematically and have it fill in the blank. For us it's processor type, processor speed, RAM, hard drive, year, stuff like that. I assume someone could do a similar thing in their industry and just build out whatever those A, B, C, D terms are, and then have it create these pages for you. Then it’s a matter of putting them up in a way that Google's going to read them. Make sure you have all your tags and your H1, H2 headings and all that stuff. Over time that's going to make you an authority in Google's eyes on all that type of content.

Felix: You mentioned SEO on the images is effective for you. Do people search for Apple products through Google Images? 

Brian: We haven't done that specifically, but where the images do help us on Google is with the merchant search. When people are trying to buy straight through Google, our images will pop up. That has been helpful. What do you recommend for image search?

Felix: No. I remember a coffee brand that I spoke to that all of their organic traffic or a lot it was coming from people searching up specific beans and what they look like.

Brian: Interesting.

Felix: I'm not sure if it applies. I'm not sure how much people care about what a 2.4 gigahertz laptop looks like compared to a 3.0. I'm just curious if it plays a role at all.

Brian: I have heard of people using memes to drive traffic so maybe those could be something good for Google image.

Felix: Do you use that same strategy on the Renewed Macs side? 

Brian: Not high enough yet I would say. It's still an adolescent and we have more work to do. That definitely is part of our strategy to try to add more content there. We're putting up a blog post every week or so. We're also doing a lot of Google AdWords for any renewed or used device search when people are trying to buy. A lot of our traffic there is coming through Sell Your Mac. When you're on sellyourmac.com, you can click buy an Apple device and it'll take you to Renewed Macs. I'm also driving a lot of traffic on there from my LinkedIn and the Google ads make up the majority of the rest.

Felix: Now you have “Mac” in your name–have you run into any issues with Apple? What is your business relationship with them? 

Brian: I've had conversations with Apple. In general, they actually love what we're doing and they respect our place in the ecosystem. When we're buying stuff on Sell Your Mac, it's helping them by funding new purchases for their customers. On the Renewed Mac side we're probably more competing to some extent, but they don’t worry too much about competition. For the listeners, the biggest takeaway is being very careful about trademark terms and you're allowed to use those in URLs, though companies can certainly tell you you're not. You typically are allowed to do that, but you cannot use the trademark terms in your logos. If you make your website named your logo, that can get you into trouble, but you should always be able to put it in plain text. That's what I would recommend–have a separate logo as your actual business logo.

The Shopify tools and services that weed out fraudulent sellers 

Felix: Do you ever encounter issues with fraud in this line of business? 

Brian: We are frauded way too often. Usually, we snuff them out. Typically, fraud occurs when people are trying to send us something that's nothing like they described. They'll send us a random part from their house and tell us it was a $4,000 computer. We're not going to pay anyone for something like that. We've got high-end security people involved to refute some of these issues that have popped up. On the purchase side, the biggest issue we see is people taking parts out of the computer. For instance, someone buys a high-end MacBook Pro and they take the logic board out and then they tell you it's bad and send it back. Those are a little bit harder to refute, but we've set up a lot of different fraud protection to try to help us out.

If people are scammers on the internet, I think Shopify does a great job of detecting it, and we've dialed it to some of the tougher settings. If a customer emails us and can't buy it, we can try to work with them and see if they're legitimate or not. Our goal is to stop the fraud before it really happens–our Shopify store will automatically cancel orders if it detects fraud–we won’t end up shipping it.

Felix: Do you guys have an internal QA process for identifying fraudulent accounts? 

Brian: It's both on the technology and the team side. Our tech stack will pull in all the information off the computer and then compare it to what the original quote was. It'll look at every single spec and if anything's mismatched, it'll flag it so we can go back and review it. Sometimes it's in the customer's favor. They said it had a small hard drive, turns out it had a huge one terabyte SSD. We'll actually pay them more money for it. If it's the wrong year, the wrong computer, we'll reach out to the customer directly and just tell them our findings and show it to them. Most people are understanding–they were wrong and they didn't know in the first place. Typically we work all those out. I'd say most people have good intentions and aren't trying to fraud us. There are certainly some people that tell us we're wrong and we'll just send the item back to them and not purchase it.

Felix: If you knew the kind of issues you would experience around fraud when you started up, would it have stopped you from starting the business? 

Brian: There's one fraud in particular that almost put us out of business. In hindsight, maybe knowing that would've scared me off, but I've been an entrepreneur at heart basically my whole life so I don't think it would've scared me out of starting my own business. Maybe I would've been more cognizant of some of the frauds and put better processes in place to begin with. One huge fraud that happened was we got scammed on a huge overseas purchase. The issue is that trying to win a lawsuit overseas–even when you win it's almost impossible to collect. People need to be very wary when they're sending wires to people. Even if it looks like it could be a legitimate company you might get screwed unintentionally. I tell people to use their credit card for everything they possibly can, which is something that I've done as a security measure. If you're using an Amex, if there's ever a fraud, you can almost guarantee you're going to get your money back. You just fill out a form and you get the funds before the person can even dispute it practically. If anything you have that's sketchy at all, try to make sure you protect yourself.

Felix: On the emotional self-regulation side of things, how do you handle these kinds of setbacks? 

Brian: The one really major fraud that almost took us out, I did not handle it very well at the time. It was super rough and there were many sleepless nights trying to figure out if we could continue or not. Ultimately having my friends and family rally around me and help tell me it's okay and that I'm going to get through it, led me down a path to getting back to work and finding more deals. It took me six years or so to actually pay off that debt–it was that serious. Back on track now, but you have to be that passionate about what you're doing or a big fraud would probably throw you off and you'd just close the business. If you have that passion to see where the destination is, it'll help you out a lot when you're dealing with those tough times–whether it's fraud or just a bad month. 

The gift that keeps on giving: a symbiotic relationship with one of the greatest brands

Felix: Six years to get back on track is certainly a big test of faith. How do you stay connected and passionate about your mission? 

Brian: I love Apple products. I am definitely an Apple fanboy. I've been using Apple since I was in grade school and I love the ecosystem, the ease of use, the privacy, the trusted devices. They work so well together that I want everyone else to have that same experience. I realize there's multiple types of people and not everyone can afford that device, but hopefully I can sell them that renewed device now in our Shopify store. People that want to trade in quickly can get good money back on their current devices that are only a few years old. I'm very pleased to play a part in that ecosystem to help everyone continuously get the latest and greatest Apple devices.

Felix: How does a new product release at Apple affect your inventory? 

Brian: The product releases are very good for us. I love to see when Apple comes out with a new laptop. The M1 Pro just came out–those have been selling like crazy. A decent amount of trade is coming in on those, on the stuff that's only a few years old. This product release might have been more unique that we're seeing so many devices that are incredibly new being resold. People are selling their 2020 MacBook Pro to get the new M1. It's because it's that much of a leap in technology–significantly faster. The same thing when the new iPad pro comes out, but we focus a lot on the Mac side. We don't get quite as many new devices like when the new iPhone launch comes out. The iPhone market is really fragmented and crazy at how many offers are out there for even more than they're worth from the carriers, but the Mac releases do drive a lot of business.

Felix: I’m guessing there’s a lot of crossover between the Sell your Mac side of the business, and the Renewed Macs side. Do you have any customer acquisition strategies for that kind of scenario? 

Brian: We try to cross brand both sites. When you're on Sell Your Mac, you see a button to “buy renewed.” When you're on renewedmacs.com, there's a button in the corner that says, “powered by sellyourmac.com.” When each customer is doing a transaction there is marketing materials and stuff that mention our other sister website. I would love at some point to have it fully integrated so that someone can buy and sell at the same cart level, but that's something that we haven't really dove into yet. That'd be really cool if they can get a credit at the same time they're buying another renewed device.

Felix: Circling back to the issue you’ve dealt with surrounding fraud, how do you work to build that trust with your target audience? 

Brian: For us, building trust is always being available. If you send us a message, we want to get back to you as fast as humanly possible. By staying closer to the customer through quick messages and answering the phone, builds a lot of trust. A lot of times someone will call the business just to see if someone answers the phone and that's all they needed to know to know that it was legitimate or not. We try to showcase on the website our proof sources of different rankings, whether it's Google reviews, reseller ratings, or Facebook ratings. We try to showcase to the customer as much as we can that a lot of people have trusted us before so hopefully, you trust us going forward.

Creating a combined marketing strategy for two separate—but interdependent—companies

Felix: Are there any other key tips you’d want other businesses to pay mind to when it comes to their customer

Brian: There's a lot of times that small businesses just don't get back as quickly as they could. If you can't answer the messages on a timely basis, maybe put an away message up that just says we'll get back to you in 24 hours. If you don't answer emails on the weekends, tell your customers that. Let them know when to expect a response. That's something that we did put up with, that we value our team members and their families and that we don't answer emails on Saturday and Sunday typically. So they're not waiting for a response if they have a problem. They wake up at 10:00 AM. They know they need to wait till Monday to hear back from us. Set the right expectations, that’s the biggest thing. It's like when I started out, I was answering customer service emails in the middle of the night when I would wake up and it was because I just wanted people to get that immediate response to know that we're there to help them. As long as you're communicating the speed that you're expecting to get them help, that’s going to help out a lot.

The storefront of SellYourMacs.com a joint company of RenewedMacs.com of intaking used Apple products.
Ensuring the devices they intake are top tier and authentic, RenewedMacs.com also has SellYourMacs.com which is their operation for purchasing used devices. RenewedMacs.com 

Felix: Can you give us an idea of how large the company has grown since its inception? 

Brian: On the RenewedMacs side, we're doing about a hundred thousand a month in sales right now. When we first started the website probably about a year and a half ago, we were only doing a few thousand dollars a month. $5,000 a month the first month. Maybe up to 20, 25 within two months. It’s grown pretty significantly since then. Like I mentioned earlier, this is only one of our sales channels, so it couldn't be 100% our focus, but we do know that we want to get more people to this website. We’re not trying to spend a ton of money to do it. Trying to figure out how we keep growing organically. We have high expectations for this in the future. I'd love to get this up to a million dollars a month at some point. We're still learning Shopify and all the great features and integrations it has so we're getting there.

Felix: Do you attribute that growth to any specific change that you made with the business? 

Brian: Getting more devices up there was really helpful. At first, we only started off with our A, B excellent tier devices. We realized that there were a lot of people looking for a little bit more of a lower cost option. Then we added the C grade, more fair condition devices. That really increased our sales. So just making sure you have something for all the types of consumers is the way to go.

Felix: Are there any difficulties that you run into regarding the pricing tiers? Do you get a lot of quality disputes and returns? 

Brian: I don't know 100% offhand what the percentages on returns on the fair versus excellent. My gut says that there are more returns on the fair. In general, people tend to complain about a scratch or a dent here that isn't specifically listed because it's more of a generic description. It might have a dent and then someone gets it and it's not a place that they're comfortable with. They might return it for that reason. We definitely prefer to sell the excellent ones and that's why we started the store that way. We wanted to have the best experience out of the gate and we didn't want anyone upset with the condition of their item.

Felix: Have you been able to build out a customer retention marketing strategy based on these buying cycles surrounding new releases? 

Brian: We have a conversation with someone later today about doing some SMS marketing with our Shopify store. That's the direction that we're leaning, is hitting people up at that exact point because typically someone upgrades their computer every three to five years, and upgrades their phone every two to three years. You can go around some of those timestamps and reach out accordingly. Sometimes people might need a little bit of a nudge. If you told them you had this great deal in stock, or you had this great offer to buy it back at a special bonus, that can go a long way. It's a combination of the right timing and the right offer.

Felix: Do you see people buying the product off of Renewed Macs, and then selling it back on the sister site? 

Brian: Yeah. No, we absolutely do. We have promo codes set up and we know it comes from the website.

The content formula that achieves 10x followers and boosts sales on LinkedIn 

Felix: Can you share a little bit more about your experience with LinkedIn and growing the businesses? 

Brian: We've focused a lot on personal branding and building way more content for LinkedIn in the last couple years. It's gotten a lot of traction–an average post gets probably 500 likes. Some of them are up to 25,000, 30,000 now. That's driving a ton of views and trying to convert those views into website visits. Typically I recommend having an extremely engaging video and then dropping a link that doesn't seem salesy to your store, for example. It's all about making it fun for the customer, but then you're also giving them the ability to check out your business.

The RenewedMacs.com team in one of their storage facilities.
Brian is an advocate for sharing his journey online and finds that it allows others to know more about his business—which also translates to sales.RenewedMacs.com 

Felix: Can you explain a little about the thought process behind this kind of strategy? Why would a personal brand contribute so significantly? 

Brian: It helps you get in front of more people and build a trusted audience that is going to be interested in whatever I have. As I've grown over time, I'm seeing the ability to post stuff that might be a little bit more salesy, but actually get a little bit of action on it. Whether I'm raising money for a charity or trying to sell a Mac, just getting those views up has been very helpful and it takes a long time. I've been posting at least twice a day now for three years and finally this year seeing a really massive uptick on my LinkedIn. Whoever's listening, you've got to stick with it. It's definitely a long term strategy to grow a lot there, but it's very fruitful in the end and you can use it for all your businesses. Whether I'm buying or selling a Mac or I'm promoting my LinkedIn coaching or workshops, you can do it all.

Felix: How do you walk that line between what’s salesy, and what’s just pure content?

Brian: I would say only 10 to 20% is salesy. 10% or that 20% is a little bit more direct and then the other 10% is more of a soft sel. Then the remaining 80% has nothing to do with sales at all. Just giving people the content that they want. You need to think about what's in it for them, not what's in it for you. When you finally do make that post–that 10% that's more salesy–your audience isn't really offended because they like the last nine. The last nine posts you did were actually okay so they're not offended you're being salesy once in a while. The people you see that are trying to sell you in every single post they make, you're not going to be liking their content for very long.

Felix: What does the rest of the content that you’re sharing relate to? 

Brian: I do find some content that's fun Apple stuff. Today I have a video prepped of someone coring an apple in a really fun way. It’s a subtle reminder about using Apple, but a lot of it could be related to technology, for example. Like these futuristic cars that look like they might be an Apple car, but they're not. That's just a reminder that I'm selling technology and helps clue my audience into the overall industry I'm in, but not specific to what I'm actually doing.

Felix: How did you know LinkedIn was the right sales channel for you? I’m sure a lot of people doubt whether it’d be the right platform for their business. 

Brian: You can sell almost anything on LinkedIn. The fact that the LinkedIn audience now has 750 million, I'd have to assume that your buyer is there somewhere. It's just trying to figure out the right type of content that's going to reach them that they're going to resonate with. For my audience, it's inspirational and fun but that can vary for everyone. If you have a tech specific product maybe you're just posting about tech and innovation all the time and then people follow you that are into that and then you happen to have tons of people in your network that are your potential buyers in there.

How successful personal branding boosts sales and promotes expertise

Felix: Where can people go to find out more about your LinkedIn services? 

Brian: They can go to brianthemacman.com.

Felix: What’s involved in optimizing your LinkedIn profile to take it to the next level? 

Brian: The biggest thing is trying to hone your profile. Having a photo that is trusted as your profile picture. You need to be looking at the camera, smiling, your eyes open. You need to make sure it pops. Most of the time the pictures are very bland and you can use a filter or Photoshop to make sure it really pops with a certain color. I also recommend having a headline that is intriguing. I talk about buying $46 million of Apple devices and that leads to so many clicks that people just want to learn more. They have no idea what I do, but they're intrigued.

Once they land on your profile, you need to make sure that you have a cover photo and a story that talks about your business in an interesting way. My cover photo is my team. In the middle of it, it says, “I want to buy your Apple devices.” Think about the cover photo as a billboard. It could be your team, your company building–whatever it is, think about it as if someone could understand what your business does after looking at it for a few seconds. Telling your story in your about section I would recommend a blend of personal and business. People want to know about who you are as a human, not just that you're a salesperson.

Tell them your hobbies and hopefully they're going to resonate with you and who you are. Then close with a call to action. What do you want people to do? A lot of times you'd visit someone's profile, you don't even know how to buy from them. Tell them what you'd like them to do. In multiple places of my profile, people know that I buy and sell Apple. Don't try to hide what you're doing.

Felix: I think a lot of people are making this move–where they’re building a business off of the expertise they’ve acquired while building their business. Do you have any tips for navigating this pursuit in a skillful way? 

Brian: I seemingly add a new business every two years. I'm keeping the trend going this year by starting to offer these LinkedIn classes and workshops. I realized I had such a knack for growing on LinkedIn and I wanted to share that gift with people. I started by becoming a Vistage speaker. Vistage is a CEO roundtable group around the world. That got my name out to a lot of these different business groups and I started getting some clients. Then I realized that I didn't have any place to tell people where to go to learn more about me. I was just sending them an email with a couple of paragraphs of text copy. That's when I decided I needed to build this Shopify store for my personal brand of my classes.

I want to make sure they could land somewhere and learn more about it and buy directly from there. I don't have to send them any of their invoices or PayPal links or anything like that. Just as you're thinking about new ideas, the ease of starting that Shopify store is pretty straightforward. I can go in and edit my own pages and I'm paying for the lowest tier, the $30 a month. There's not much hard cost to get going, fortunately. I definitely recommend people segmenting out their different businesses on the individual websites to make people understand exactly what they're doing and not trying to push all the same offerings you have on one website, on another.

Felix: What is the key area of focus for you, moving into the next year? 

Brian: Continuing to focus on LinkedIn and branding as the Mac man, and that'll allow me to launch other Apple-related businesses in the future and help me do larger deals as we go. I'm winning business almost every day on LinkedIn. I have hot leads coming into my inbox from my content and it's a lot about people just seeing my headline for example and learning more about me than sending me a message about it. By creating a market presence for yourself like that you'll have opportunities for many years to come and then have the ability to launch more businesses off of that–whether they're 100% related or not. The branding as the Mac man is the way to go.

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