Benji Hyam

Neil Patel

Benji Hyam: Content Marketer & Co-founder, Grow and Convert: “Work on Something You Love Doing Every Day”

Benji Hyam is the co-founder of Grow and Convert, a content marketing agency focused on delivering measurable results, which crossed $1 million in revenue in 2019. He’s the mastermind behind the growth of multiple start-ups and blogs, and is a blog writer himself, sharing on topics like content strategy, promotion, inbound marketing, and building content marketing teams. 

Benji’s Original Story: “Work on Something You Love Doing Every Day”

I’m a co-founder of the content marketing agency Grow and Convert. We started the company back in 2015, but at the time, it was just a content marketing advice blog. We didn’t know how we were going to monetize it or what products we’d be selling. We tested three different products to sell over the course of 18 months and none of them took off – one was a phone course, the second was an in-person workshop, and the last product was an online course about content marketing. We launched the online course in 2017, and people kept asking us if we’d do content marketing for them. That’s when we created a simple landing page outlining a content marketing service, and within two weeks we landed our first two clients and formed the agency. Two years later, we crossed $1 million in annual recurring revenue.

More on the story pivots of our business here: growthlab.com/turned-failed-product-business-34000month-service-business/

I knew I wanted to be in marketing from a high school class. Before that, I had no clue what I wanted to do in life, but after taking that class, I realized I loved figuring out what people want. From then, I pursued a degree in marketing and worked full-time in marketing during university.

While I was in the middle of college, I found out my parents lost a lot of money in the 2008 financial crisis, like many people did. From then on, I was on my own financially. I had to take out loans to pay for the rest of my college and took a full-time job while also going to school full-time.

That experience was eye-opening to me in multiple ways. It taught me that nothing is guaranteed in life and things can happen at any moment, especially when you’re unprepared. It also taught me to do what you want when you have the chance to do it. It forced me to grow up quickly and take responsibility for myself.

From then on, I was motivated to succeed in my career because I had to. I had no one to fall back on financially and that was a huge motivator for me.

More on this story here: medium.com/the-mission/why-i-quit-my-life-4e524b1dee92

I got a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from San Diego State University. It gave me a solid foundation of marketing theory, however, I had to completely relearn marketing when I got into my first job because school doesn’t teach you anything you need to execute marketing in the real world.

My first industry job in 2009 entailed running sales and marketing for a screen-printing startup, and one of the ways I found you could sell was through LinkedIn. Because of that, I built out my LinkedIn profile when few were using the platform to find jobs. Over the summer going into my senior year, someone from a company called Vistage International reached out to me cold and asked if I’d be interested in interviewing for an open role they had there, so I did – and I landed it.

My job at Vistage as a social media manager was my first real job out of college. I stumbled into content marketing and writing blog posts because of it. One of my main responsibilities was to manage Vistage’s blog and curate posts from some of the business owners that contributed, which I enjoyed. In one year I grew the blog to 20,000 unique visitors/month. At the time, I didn’t know if that was good or not, but everyone seemed to be pretty happy with the results. That’s when I fell in love with the content marketing side of things.

In terms of writing blog posts, since I was managing the blog for Vistage, my boss challenged me to write something, myself. I fought her on it for weeks because I didn’t think I had anything valuable to say, but I finally relented and wrote a blog post on the “Snuggie explosion.” I remember 300 people read that article, and I found it fascinating 300 people cared to read what I had to say. I wrote another blog post after that – it got 1,000 views. My last one for the company got 20,000 views. I started to realize that, by writing, I could reach thousands of people. Right then, I became hooked on sharing my thoughts through blog posts.

I worked at Vistage for 2.5 years and it was a great learning experience for me. I was constantly around business owners and that led me to want to start my own business.

I started my first company in 2013 but it failed within six months. From there, I wanted to learn how to grow a company from the ground up. I decided to move to San Francisco to run marketing for a startup so I could learn growth strategies while still getting paid. The role I landed was as the first marketing hire for a software development company. Within the first year, I grew the blog to 35,000 monthly visitors and it became the top source of leads for the company.

From there, I got poached to join another startup because of the success I had, however, it wasn’t a great fit for me. Meanwhile, I had started our blog, Grow and Convert, as a way to share my learnings. We slowly grew our blog audience while I was still on the job. With only 3,000 blog readers at Grow and Convert, I decided to go all-in and quit my job to work full-time on it. 18 months later, I finally got paid to do what I loved — which is now my full-time job at Grow and Convert.

Some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced:

  1. Getting through the trough of sorrow – i.e., that time in your business where you don’t make any money and nothing seems like it’s working. Again, it took us 18 months to get to any sort of consistent revenue.
  2. Dealing with imposter syndrome. When starting out, I felt like I was sharing advice on content marketing and growing a business when our business wasn’t taking off yet. I knew that I had the skills to succeed but nothing felt like it was working.

The biggest advice I could give is to work on something you love doing everyday – i.e., you would still do it if you weren’t getting paid because that’s what gets you through those tough times in your business. If I didn’t love what I did on a daily basis, I would’ve given up long ago.

Finally, think about your answer to this really powerful question:

  1. How would I spend my days if money weren’t a factor?

Once you have the answer, try to build your life to match that.

Quote: “Think about your answer to this really powerful question: How would I spend my days if money weren’t a factor?” – Benji Hyam

Find more from Benji Hyam at Grow and Convert.