Transcript: Swim University Loses Massive Traffic from HCU, Part 2- DS503

Doug: Hey, what’s going on. Welcome to the Doug show. My name’s Doug Cunnington, and this is part two of the interview with Matt Giovanissi, we talk about swim university. So this is just a continuation of that interview. In part one, I told you about my new podcast ranking revolution. I’ll put a link to that.

You can go check out the website. See if episodes are indeed available or not, depending on when you’re listening to this, or if it’ll be coming out in a couple of days and you can sign up for the email list, so you’ll be notified when shows are released and just the progress I teased you last time and said, I had this plan to Launch the show with like 20 or 30 episodes, take advantage of like downloads and the algorithm and, you know, try to really like launch the show because I have the ability to bank up a bunch of shows and then launch it all at once.

I ran into a couple of issues. One, I caught a cold. Lasted like two weeks. My voice is still recovering and it was a mess. I got pinkeye It was a whole thing and I was taking medicine and I was all loopy and tired for a couple weeks So that threw things off had to cancel a bunch of interviews and folks rescheduled with me and all this stuff the other thing is Google rolled out the March core update and it It’s going to take like a month to roll out.

I’ve done a handful of interviews, like five or six or eight. I can’t remember, but I’ve done a handful of interviews. Some of the conversations, you know, it doesn’t really matter. We talked a little bit about the helpful content update, but we didn’t talk too much about like anything specific right now.

So we didn’t talk about like an update that we didn’t know was going to roll out yet. So anyway. There’s all this discussion right now about the March core update. And I see people with, I mean, basically no one knows what the hell is going on. Right? No, no one knows what’s going to happen with the update.

There’s multiple systems involved and people are just speculating. They’re talking about. The documentation that Google has released. There’s no real information. And the thing is, people are still watching. They’re interested. They want to hear about it. People love to see a train wreck too. There’s, you know, one group of people that published a Bulk AI content, and they’re very impacted.

And then there’s another set of people that didn’t publish bulk AI content. And now they’re happy to see that the AI content is falling off the face of the earth and people are being de indexed. So it’s a whole crazy scene right now. And I feel pressure number one, to release the episodes that I have recorded because.

They were very relevant when I recorded them like just a few weeks ago, but as time goes on I’m not sure some of them may not age as well There’s an interview that I did with Ricky Kessler from Income School And we talk about niche sites and content sites and we talk about the helpful content update We’re like, oh, there probably is gonna be an update in the future.

Well, we’re seeing the update happen right now So if I hold it for too long and have like a big launch You Then some of this stuff is going to be more irrelevant. So I want to get it out quick. And the other thing is while people are interested in hearing all this conversation, it’s a really good opportunity for me to take advantage of that.

So I’ll tell you a little bit more about that in the intro for part three. So if you haven’t listened to part two of the interview, uh, sorry, if you haven’t listened to part one of the interview with Matt yet, check it out. It’s, it’s on the podcast players. It’s on YouTube. And this is part two, there will be part three and you can check that out.

And again, I’m just experimenting with dividing up a very long conversation into a couple of shorter ones. So be sure to check it out. Here’s the continuation with Matt Giovinissi from Swim University. He still has a site over at MoneyLab as well, and you can check out his podcast too.


Matt: They’re not, they’re not setting aside, um, money for, for taxes. They’re not they’re overspending when things are, when they’re flush. And then they’re ruthlessly cutting when things aren’t.

And the thing is, is like, you have to learn to control it all like in the ups and downs. And, and it’s like, I don’t know why I always bring this up, but it’s like a teacher’s salary. Cause I, I used to date a teacher and she told me once that she had a choice as a teacher to. Get it. And I don’t know if this is true for every teacher, by the way.

So I don’t, I just know this one person told me this, that you can choose to get paid for 12 months, right? So that you get lower paychecks over 12 months, or you can just do the eight months and get bigger paychecks. And she said, a majority of teachers take the eight months because they want the bigger paycheck.

And then they end up going and getting a summer job to kind of, you know, fill out the rest of the time. And I thought that was so. I thought that was like stupid. I’m like, why wouldn’t you want the, why don’t you spread it out so that you don’t have to work in the summer, but you’re not getting paid as much, you know?

So it’s the same thing of like, well, I don’t want to do, I don’t want to contribute to our 401k because I’ll make less money in my paycheck. I’m like. Yes, but your future self will thank you, you know, and it’s it’s hard. I get that, you know, but it’s but that’s the kind of shit is is like I make the same money in in May that I make in January because we cashflow management.

Doug: Yep. And it’s such a simple thing. But yeah, people get ahead of themselves and just to be super explicit for the people that didn’t quite follow along. Like what happens is you have a bill due in whatever December. For whatever, a supplier, vendor, whatever. Yeah. And then you can’t make the payment and then you go under, you go bankrupt.


Matt: Because you can’t, or you have to ride debt. Yeah. Which, which ends up costing you more money than it would’ve, you know, otherwise. Yeah.

Doug: Yeah. Okay. So HCU hit. Mm-Hmm. , you weren’t totally surprised. We have a question here from Marcus. What strategies does Matt use to overcome the difficulties caused by HCU and secondary question about ai?

And how you use it. So, yeah. What are your strategies to overcome HCO?

Matt: We are still writing content. Like that is still happening. I, I think it will come back. So I’m not, I’m not giving up on Google. I’m not saying like, Oh, screw it. You know, we’re done. No, no, quite the opposite. I think a lot of people will think that and I will just eat their lunch when they give up, which is fine.

Again, like we’ve been doing this for so long. I’ve seen all the ups and downs, so I know, you know, it’s the long term hold it, you know, hold, right? Uh, so we’re staying the course there. We are sort of shifting the priority of how we create that content. So we’re, we’ve, we’ve adopted a video first model, essentially, of content creation.

Where we create the videos first, and then they become the articles. Right? So it, so we write scripts to create long form, specifically long form, because that converts for us. How long? How long, uh, like, yeah, what do you consider long form? Oh, anything over five, three minutes. Yeah. I guess anything, really anything over 60 seconds and, and, and horizontal, not vertical.

Uh, so we do a video every single week and then sometimes those videos become articles. And then the other thing we’re doing is we’re also writing articles when. They’re needed. We’re also updating articles when they’re needed. We are finding new traffic sources to get people to those articles because the articles themselves convert.

Right. They convert to leads and to sales, but, you know, Google’s not sending us that traffic, so we just need other places to send that traffic. So those sources have been Facebook, Pinterest. Uh, we’ve been doing ads, running ads directly to content from which platforms, uh, from Facebook and Facebook, Instagram, and Google, we have not.

YouTube ads yet, but that is definitely something I want to, uh, do this year and You know, basically social media and, you know, other organic platforms like that and paid flat plat platforms to, to content also email. So this year we are sending like three emails a week to our content as like a helpful, you know, cause we have a huge news, a newsletter, a huge email list, and that’s the one thing that they can’t touch really.

So, uh. We’re just sending our same folks back to our website. And again, in the hopes that, you know, if Google decides they fix stuff and it comes back bonus, but I’m not relying on that.

Doug: And sort of on top of that peak one 95 asks. That, uh, Google organic seems to probably be your most, uh, successful source up until HCU still is, and does email marketing play a big role?

And it does, but can you give us a percentage of like the sales and revenue attributed to email? If you can estimate,

Matt: I would say a third. Okay. Yeah.

Doug: And

Matt: I’m just looking at this month so far. Are

Doug: you, are you earning? Revenue from your email list aside from selling your own products or

Matt: I don’t know the answer to that.

Okay. Uh, I have to assume yes. So we, we obviously make, well, I know it’s not obvious, I guess we have affiliate, we do affiliate marketing as well because we don’t sell every product. Known for pools. We just sell a handful and the rest of it we recommend and it’s through Amazon and other platforms. And so we are sending traffic from our email list back to those articles.

So I assume that that is generating revenue that wouldn’t have been there otherwise, because those people are buying those products, can’t track it. Not worth tracking. I look, I’ve ever since 2018 when, or was that whatever year that, uh, Amazon thing went, was the first one, not the second one, the first one.

I’ve basically said that, that is bonus for us, right? And so I keep feeling that way. I keep thinking like, all right, if you’re, if you’re gonna screw me, I’m not going to stop, but I’m just going to consider you bonus. So now I have to focus into something else. And for, for me, it’s, uh, like, yeah, email is like, I’m mainly selling my own products.

And so the number that’s in my head for February, I know that number, that revenue number. Cause it’s in, I use Clavio for email marketing now. And it shows me that like how much money was contributed from email marketing. Okay. And so I’m like, oh, okay. I know that number. I know what my revenue is for the month.


Doug: Gotcha. And you don’t have to share this. Like, what is the revenue number since you were just looking at it? So to give people an idea of the

Matt: scope, uh, this month we’re at 20, 000 and about, I think it’s like six or 7, 000 came from, uh, email specifically. And we ran no sales this, this month. So, and only cause we ran a really big sale in January and we were able to, and again, like, even though our traffic was down 50 percent in January, our revenue stayed.

The same and I contribute that to the shift in focus of like, okay, we’re gonna, we’re gonna send more emails. We’re gonna. You know, sell our products a little bit better. Uh, we’re going to, you know, build better landing pages. We’re going to run better ads, all those, all those things.

Doug: I was listening to a Morgan Housel podcast, and I think this is in his books too, but he cited the great depression as a time when.

American businesses got super efficient, like huge gains because there was no other choice. It’s like, you got a business, you put food on the table, you figure it out. Right. So it was only through like. Constraint. Yeah. Yeah. Issues, constraint, declined it. Like you’re fucked. Like basically you’re fucked unless you figure it out.

And then if, when it does come

Matt: back. Yeah. Right. Then you’re going to be in a good position. Oh shit. Yeah. Like you,

Doug: you’ve increased conversions conceivably.

Matt: Yep. And which again, uh, I’ve. Yeah, it’s been almost 20 years and Even before that again, I was in the pool industry. We’ve had our ups and downs. We had a huge Boom in 2004.

I don’t even know what caused it back then But that was like the pool industry was like they were spending really. Oh, yeah

Doug: I wonder if it was like coming out of the dot com bubble

Matt: must have been yeah like that and then Or like we had, I don’t, yeah, September 11th and stuff. Yeah. Or yeah. And I get, yeah, you’re right.

Maybe a lot of people like just had, there was just a lot of good cashflow that was hovering around. I don’t know. The economy must’ve been good because when the economy is good, usually, uh, luxury leisure products sort of flourish and we are technically in that period, but. Uh, again, comparing it to when everyone was home, it’s very different, you know, yeah, just for my specific, you know, like, for like, again, luxury, I could say, make the argument like luxury products, like When, when, when the economy is good, I used to work for, I worked for one season at a luggage company and it was, I, I worked, I worked there right before, like I got fired or let go, uh, right after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

October of 2008 because the economy crashed and literally people to stop buying luggage because, you know, it’s, it’s a luxury good. And again, in the pandemic, no one’s traveling, but it’s still a luxury good. Even, you know, it’s like now I bet you luggage is doing really well because you’re allowed to travel again and the economy is good.

And that’s like the perfect thing. Whereas if the economy is good and everyone’s forced to stay home, that’s a great. Boom for the pool industry. Yeah, you know, it’s like staycase. It’s what’s your staycation and I have the extra money So like that’s what happened to us. I don’t know what 2004 was but that’s just an interesting like yeah again, like I’ve seen The ups and downs and again the pool industry They spend money, they spend a lot of money when things are good, and they don’t know how to, they still don’t know how to manage their money.

This question

Doug: is from Jack Barton. I’ve always admired how Matt has really been committed to just one audience for a long time. I would love to hear his thoughts on how and why he stays committed to just pool and hot tub owners and what keeps him from writing about everything in the pool space when he could clearly dominate the

Matt: serps.


yeah, I don’t think that’s accurate. And I think that’s what you see. That’s not true because I’ve, I’ve written articles about how to have sex in a hot tub. I’ve written articles about, um, or at least not how to get pregnant in a hot tub.

Doug: All these are on your OnlyFans, right? People can check

Matt: that. Yeah.

This is all behind the paywall. Onlyfans. com slash money lab. That’s right. Uh, uh, like, I don’t know. Yeah, there’s a, yeah, I used to write articles. I was writing articles. To sort of like the way I approached it or the way I thought about it was like, I’m just going to spray as much as I can to hit anybody who could possibly own a pool.

And it worked ton of traffic, no conversions. And that, so that experiment I went, okay, it’s not worth writing like top 10 workouts. To do in your pool or how to meditate in a hot tub or, you know, how to recover from a workout in a hot tub and like all of these like health sort of adjacent things that I’m like, I realized, Oh, anybody that can use a pool or a hot tub will like these articles, not necessarily people who own them.

And at the time the products. That we were selling were for pool owners, not for anyone else. And so I thought, well, this is kind of stupid, you know, like, yes, I could, you know, we. We could expand into like backyard patio furniture stuff. And, uh, I just felt like the only audience I’ve ever known my whole life was people who own pools.

And, and, and I, and I, that’s just a, it’s an audience that I know. Uh, intimately because they were all my friend’s parents. So when I was a kid, all my friend’s parents would come to a 13 year old boy for advice and that power has never left. Like I have the power. I am. Does that make sense?

Doug: Yeah. Yeah, you know what I mean?

You locked in at 13 years old. Yeah.

Matt: You’re just I realized that like our parents are not superheroes. They’re kind of fucking idiots. And they don’t know how to take care of a

Doug: pool. It’s just a drunk wearing a cape. Yep,

Matt: that’s it.

Doug: Okay, so in the uh, I think that was a Jonathan Katz joke. Do you remember that comedian?


Matt: mean the, like, Dr. Katz? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Doug: Okay. Or was that uh, Oh, was that Dave

Matt: Attell? A Dave Attell joke. Or Dave Attell or Dave Chappelle? Attell. Okay, from that show from Dr. Katz. Yeah.

Doug: Yeah, that’s right. Really deep cut. Yeah, like 1999 or something. Okay, the other. Okay, so I had a couple thoughts here.

You have stuck to one audience. I will say, you know, just to correct Jack a little bit. You had the side project. Oh, yeah, a bunch of other stuff. Yeah. And like, even when Even when looking back, perhaps you could have or should have focused more on Swim University, you were working on other stuff, spreading yourself thin, putting a lot of time into like MoneyLab, the community, for a couple years and all that.

However, you did stick with Swim

Matt: University. It’s always been a thing. Yeah, yeah.

Doug: And it is hard to, to stick with it and focus. Now, my question here, which could spread things a little thin, you never ran ads on swim university, which is fine. Like you were trying to sell your own.

Matt: Oh, you mean like a display ads display on the

Doug: site?

Yeah. Correct. So one thing I’m actually going to test this out. I’ll tell you afterwards and people don’t. Screw up my, my little test here, but there is a, there is a strategy where, you know, the industry, you could have started another site where it basically had all these informational articles and you knew the, like, you knew the industry, so you could just run ads over there to keep.

Swim University, pristine and clean, no ads, good experience, and then have other side projects that are kind of accessories to, and really have a media company, but have like four websites that all focus on pool stuff. Yep. And you just own the SERPs. Like you could actually have some of the content that you ran on Swim University on the other sites too and earn whatever revenue you want from there.

So why didn’t you spread in that area? Instead of just brew cabin, uh, roasty, like the other, the other stuff.

Matt: Uh, niche fatigue. Okay. That’s the simple answer. Like I don’t, I have no passion for pool and hot tub care. Like I, I am, it’s, it’s something I’ve always done. I like being good at it. I like building and designing things for the audience, but I’m not.

In bed at night, reading books about pool care or, you know, cause they don’t exist, but also like it’s, it’s not my, my free time. I’m not having a good time with it, but personal finance I was and brewing, I was, and you know, coffee I was. And so it’s, it’s just like, okay. So many diversity is my job. It’s my day job.

And then these other things are my passion projects. And so having. A side project that isn’t, that doesn’t feed a passion just feels like more job. It was a break. Yeah, it was, it was more of a break. And again, like I, the only business that I ever started that I thought would be bigger than swimming diversity was money lab.

It’s the only one where I was like, Oh, this could technically be bigger than swimming diversity if I wanted it to. I still believe that, but I don’t want, I got out of it. Okay. Yeah.

Doug: Which leads us to another question here. So this is from Handerling, something like that. Uh, how is Matt doing since focusing on just one thing?

So, and you can catch us up to speed. So you were working on a few things. Yeah. Talk about the process to whittling it down to just working on Swim

Matt: University. Oh, uh, there was a day. So I was, I had, I’m constantly trying to simplify. That’s like the thing that I always like doing in every single part of my life.

And I am very conscious of work life balance. I’m not, I like working, so I work a lot, but I also like, I don’t like to be dependent on, I don’t like things like, it’s why I don’t have a. Clock in job right now, because it’s like, I don’t want to have to be dependent if I want to sleep in that day, I want to be able to do that.

I want to have that freedom. There is a day where I and I don’t sorry, I think I might be going off topic. What’s the question again? It’s like, how am I doing? Yeah,

Doug: since focusing on one thing, but I want you to talk about the shift this shift because you were working on several

Matt: things. Yeah. Okay. So last year I was working on MoneyLab and technically brew cabin and some university.

And I had made the decision early in the year, like around January of 2023 to focus a hundred percent of my effort on money lab, because I thought that is going to be, that’s going to, that’s going to save, that’s going to be what I do for the rest of my life, because I don’t think I could do pools for the rest of my life.

And then I kept hearing the advice of. You know, do one thing, focus on one thing. You can grow one thing. I heard Miles Beckler talk about it. I saw like clips from, uh, there was like an Alex Hermosi clip that was, that resonated with me, which was just like. You could have all these businesses and they could all do well, which is what I used to say, but if you just did one thing, it could do really well if you put all your effort into it.

So I went, I resonate with that and I picked MoneyLab and then I remember where I was in this moment, because it was only last year, sitting at my counter and I was eating and I thought, Wait, what if, alright, what if I, what if it was Swim University? Like, what if I flipped it? The one that’s making like 10x more.

The one that’s making 10x more. I’m like, if I did that, maybe that’s the move. And then I said that out loud to Steph and she’s like, yeah, duh. And I was like, oh, right. Uh, and here, you know, cause it’s like in my head, I wanted to build something new over here. Cause that’s what I make my creative energy needs that outlet.

And then I went, all right, we’ll take that same energy and dump that and put it all over this thing, because maybe you can get it to 20 X in less than a year or whatever to Kate, you know, and I also thought, wow, that’s actually way easier because I, this might sound it’s, it’s not as. I’m not as affected mentally by its performance and by the content that I, like, I would write a piece on MoneyLab and if someone Poked a hole in it or question it.

I would personally fall apart. Cause I’m like, well, no, I put, I thought about this. Like I, I tried really hard to make this thing and I, and I put a lot of energy into it and somebody went, you’re an idiot or whatever. I’d be like, maybe I am an idiot. And it started to make me think, wait a minute. I’m, I’m going to go over here and teach business.

I should put my, if I, if I were teaching myself business. I would be like, Matt, stop starting all these other things. Go do that one thing. And so I thought I have to, like, I would be a fraud if I did this. If it can you continue to do this? Because my advice to myself would be go do swim university instead.

And yeah, here I am doing this. And it’s like, well, then why are you doing this? And it’s like, money? It’s like, yeah, all right.

Doug: And I think so. Very interesting. I have some thoughts, but. But

Matt: also, real quick, just to add to that, the Swim University content, it’s technical. It’s fact. I write it, and that’s what it is.

No one can poke, it’s not based on a feeling or emotion or, or a philosophy. So it’s science. So it feels very, it feels a lot more concrete. I’m not attached to it as a human being. It is not based on opinion. Uh, it’s just based on a process. And so I’m like, if somebody does question me on it, I’m willing to.

I’m like, I’m stoic about it. It’s like, Oh, you have a good point. Yeah. Let me rethink that. You know?


Doug: That wraps up part two for the interview with match of an EC, be sure to check out the other parts. I think you probably already checked out part one, but part three is out there. And if you have a chance, head over to ranking revolution to sign up for the email list. So you’ll be notified when I launch, when new episodes come out, all that stuff.

So thanks a lot. We’ll catch on the next episode.

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