My name is Vin Clancy. I was on welfare four years ago, living off government assistance. I launched two websites that received over 20 million visitors, two rounds of funding, and got into the TechStars accelerator. After starting a six-figure copywriting and growth hacking agency, I started teaching others how to gain traffic, followers, and users without spending large amounts of money. In the last year my book on innovative marketing (growth hacking), launched on Kickstarter, raised over $100,000 in pre-orders, and I completed a 100-date speaking tour. If you’re looking to grow or start a business, I can teach you the secret strategies I used to do all of the above, as well as the latest techniques that are working right now.
How did you get into the industry?
I wanted to create an online magazine, a place where the writers would be the stars, not the musicians.
Without much of a plan, me and my co-founder bought the domain name ‘planetivy.com’, set up a basic wordpress site, and got to work.
Initially, I called up every university and college in the country and I asked them if they wanted to write for a music magazine? I told them we had this ‘cool’ publication which help them get their name out, as well as a chance to receive editorial feedback. It worked!
In our second week we did 25,000 visitors a week, by 6 months in we had 300,000 visitors per month, and within a year we had a million visitors per month.
Just before we hit the million visitors per month mark I gave a talk at google campus in London. In the audience was someone (who shall remain nameless!) who had just left Facebook. After they saw me talk they asked me if I’d to be introduced to investors. Obviously I said yes and three weeks later I was given $250,000 and I got off welfare.
That was a big turning point.
Planet Ivy eventually reached one million visitors a month, at which point we decided to double down and launch a second site called Screen Robot. We must have been getting something right as we managed to take that magazine to one million visitors a month within 100 days!
After this success we were accepted into into the techstars accelerator ahead of 1500 other teams we started a growth hacking agency.
This is where the momentum started building and I started public speaking on a regular basis. Within three months of speaking I won best speaker at SXSW V2V in Las Vegas and I worked with the Royal family!
This was where I decided to undergo a 100 date speaking tour around the world, talking about innovative marketing techniques and growth hacking.
My first book,Secret Sauce, did almost $200,000 in revenue with zero PR, zero paid advertising with just pure hustle, public speaking and community marketing.
Around that time I launched my Facebook group Traffic & Copy. Despite having many things on the go, this turned out to be the quickest way I ever made six figures and really made me a believer in the importance of community.
Following that success, I moved out to the US where I am right now in Los Angeles, where I have just written my second book ‘Ace The Game’ which is the 100 best growth hacks in the world right now.
This book is a collection of all the things entrepreneurs need to grow their companies. Everything from: how to get leads, how to generate traffic, how to grow your social media, how to convert better, plus a ton of bonuses. All of these key things played a part in my journey and ‘Ace The Game’ is now my way of giving back. I know it’s cliche, but it really is something I wish I had when I started out. It would’ve made a massive difference in my life. It’s certainly my gift to those who want to kick-start their business.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Ok. So...Of all the things I’m grateful for doing what I do for a living, being able to travel America is by far the best perk. 50 new countries await my exploration.
On this trip, before my speaking tour of the big cities (Austin, Boston, NYC, SF, LA etc) I got to catch two new experiences.
I’ve been in Phoenix, Arizona this past week for a conference on public speaking (learned loads, beautiful scenery also) and am writing this from Salt Lake City, Utah.
When I got to the arrivals area of the airport, there were hundreds of people waiting- balloons, signs, hysteria. Not cheering for my first ever talk in Utah, alas.
I asked someone who they were waiting for: “Missionaries of the latter day church of Jesus Christ, returning home. I like your shoes also”
I sat down to try and get wifi to find my airbnb address and an uber.
Shoe compliments from all directions, then a pretty girl came and sat next to me and started talking to me.
“You’re from ING-LAND??”. She was excited. (Note: Though everyone thinks this happens every time a British boy meets an american girl, from my experience it’s pretty rare in the big cities. Now I’m out here in the “real” America, this excitement may be more common).
I felt that familiar double tap of my heart when an attractive girl shows an interest in me.
She told me she wants to tell as many people as possible about the spirit of Jesus Christ. I told her I wanted to get the damn WiFi working.
She asked me if I was religious.
I told her I had been confirmed and used to go to church.
She asked me which Church. Feeling something was afoot, I told her “one near London.”
She asked me if it was the latter day church of Jesus Christ.
Sensing a sales conversation heading my way (salesmen always know) I brought out one of my classic defusers “Can I plead the fifth on that one”.
She asked me what the fifth was.
I told her the fifth amendment allows anyone the right to refuse a question. (American friends, is this correct?)
I asked if I could use her data to find my address.
She told me she hadn’t used a phone in 18 months while she was on her mission in Oregon.
I asked her what her mission was.
She told me it was mainly doing what the spirit told her to do.
I asked her who controlled the spirit.
She told me it’s inside her, a feeling.
I was about to break into a theory I have on the flawed notion of feelings VS truth, but felt like I was poking at a beehive.
She asked if I wanted help getting a cab.
I told her when the WiFi works I can get an Uber.
What’s an Uber, she asked. (Ah!) I told her I press a button on my phone and a car will appear to pick me up. This blew her mind (to be fair, it is pretty mind-blowing, even now).
She asked for my name and told me she would send me a Twitter once she’s allowed to use the internet again, and rejoined the crowd welcoming missionaries home.
The moral of the story: It doesn’t matter what your religion is or who you are:
Love is universal, and everyone loves my shoes.
Any emerging industry trends?
Instagram is where all engagement is and will only continue to grow in the future.
It’s introduction of long-play video could be a YouTube competitor eventually.
Paid ads on Facebook are going to get harder to place easily, with more restrictive terms. The golden age of Facebook ads being cheap, and frankly, easy to set up and profit from, is over now.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
The biggest platform for getting cheap influencers with large audiences is Twitch.
Right now, Twitch is a platform where video gamers watch other video gamers play video games.
I believe it is going to become a huge platform where you can watch everything from video games, to talk shows, podcasts, and possibly live action events. Twitch is just going to grow and grow and is going to become one of the largest social networks of the future.
In terms of paid ads, the opportunities are on Amazon, and Twitch, again.
The jury is still out on whether Quora ads will work for a mainstream audience.
They are intent-based so should work well, but I can see it only working in the niches that are popular on Quora (Tech, startups, entrepreneurship, etc).
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
I started this business because I know how hard it was to get results when I started in my bedroom all those years ago.
I wish I had someone who could guide me around specifically how to do marketing on the internet.
There were a lot of guides around for old school marketing but that just wasn’t relevant if you had a budget and in the age of the social web.
So with everything I teach the people in my new book, ‘Ace The Game’, is all about what can get you the fastest result when you’re starting from scratch.
With a lot of these hacks, we use them throughout our business so it shows that if executed they can help people reach six-figures and improve their lives real quick.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
So after I finish this book launch, including speaking dates in New York and Los Angeles, I will be reopening the doors to my private members subscription club where I mentor people every week on different areas of growing their business.
This programme was set up with a business partner of mine, Charlie Price, and we work with people who are looking to grow their business fast.
We teach them everything they need to know and give them the methods we are using right now to get big results us.
That’s what coming next after this book launch and I’m super excited to get the next load of students in because the current load have had huge results so I can’t wait to launch that.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
I believe one of the best activities that any entrepreneur can do is to write their own book.
Launching my first growth hacking book ‘Secret Sauce’ was a massive game-changer.
For instance, when I first started my solo journey I didn’t really have a mailing list or a big social following. But thanks to being one of the first to write a book on growth hacking and innovative marketing, it allowed me to do $100,000 in pre-orders, smash a 100 date speaking tour, and build up multiple touch points with my target audience.
This was with no paid advertising, no paid influencers, no PR, just a small community that I built up, coupled with the fact that people just really wanted what we offered.
The 2nd thing I did that was critical to my success was build my Facebook group “Traffic & Copy” with my partner Charlie Price. This enabled us to show up in people’s feeds every single day, and we built a die hard community that became my real fans who would then support me in everything I was working on.
The third important initiative that led me to success was taking a 100 date speaking tour around the world. I’ve mentioned this before, but this allowed me to meet people, even in non-typical places like Houston, Texas.
Scenarios occured where I’d show up, and only 30 people would come to that talk, but one or two of them would become my die hard fans. Someone I met at the Houston talk actually went on to become a strategic partner of mine.
So those three things were massive marketing opportunities I took which made a big difference.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Being on welfare, as you can imagine, was real difficult.
Trying to build a business with no money was tough, but we kept at it anyway.
Were like a British soccer team made up of amateurs that didn’t realise how difficult it would be to play a bigger team, so we did it anyway! In the hunt of a shock result we eventually won.
Another ongoing issue I’ve struggled with is exhaustion and burnout.
If you’re operating at a very high level, if you’re running six-figure businesses, it really takes a lot out of you.
I haven’t found that to go away just yet but I have a lot of different activities I do which help fight it. My key focuses are a regular sleep schedule, basically a zero caffeine or alcohol, dairy, soy, gluten, minimal refined sugar diet.
I have a personal trainer, I have a personal performance coach, I have a discipline and accountability coach and also have two business coaches.
All of these stakeholders in m welfare reduce the effect of burnout and overwhelm.
Like Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter said it doesn’t get easier as you scale up.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Ideally someone who grabs my book Ace The Game would take action and execute on the information I’m giving them.
It doesn’t matter how good any information is, if a person doesn’t take action on it, it's worthless. If they put in the work, execute what they’ve learned from the book, they can get results super fast.
We also have a private members club for anyone who bought the book and if they get stuck they can ask me and my team for any advice. So they don’t have to be that technical as we include support,as well as video walkthroughs, so hopefully they really enjoy the whole experience.
That’s the ideal experience for one of our customers. Absorb, Apply, Execute, Discuss and clarify if necessary.
How do you motivate others?
A lot of it is through telling my story of going from from surviving on £71 a week, to running multiple six-figure businesses, doing a 100 date world tour, working with the royal family, being featured in Inc. Fortune, Buzzfeed, Wired, Vice, achieving my life dream of moving to the United States.
These are the things that people have told me have inspired them.
On the other hand, the fact that I show up on social media everyday with new content and give away a more free information than most people do in their paid subscription clubs is another reason why people say they find me motivating.
I screen grab every person who has ever thanked me, it makes me feel so thankful and awesome.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Having mentors is key.
I wish I had introduced them into my world a lot sooner. (It’s one of the only things I would have done differently.)
They’re awesome for ‘idiot testing’ any of my new ideas, so I fail a lot less these days.
Particularly at the end of my first startup in 2014, until I released my first book in 2016, those two years where definitely what you’d call wilderness years.
I had discovered public speaking and that was awesome, but I’d had started a few strange business ideas that never really came to life and I truly believe mentors would have helped during that time.
Now I have mentors for everything, I’m always running ideas by other people in real-time so I’m constantly thinking fast, then either executing or killing the idea because it wasn’t up to scratch.
It seems to some that I have a magic touch with everything I work on, but really it’s the people around me who make all the difference.
Maybe it’s the books you read, maybe it’s the coaches you work with, but to have no coaches or guidance at all is arrogant.
Whether it’s health, wealth or business, if you don’t take on a coach what you’re saying is that you’re the best you’ll ever be in that area. Which for 99% of the people out there just isn’t the case.
If you have someone you’ve hired who is responsible for your progress, they really punch you in the gut every week if you don’t do what you said you were going to do.
It’s like they’re saying “So you haven’t got the results you wanted because you didn’t execute, how does that make you feel?”.
Accountability like that disintegrates your ego, which is exactly what you need when you’re running a business.