One on One: Burning the Boats with Amy Porterfield

This interview with Facebook marketing rock star Amy Porterfield is the third in an ongoing series. I will continue to search for the Holy Grail of Facebook business success by tapping into where the industry’s elite have been, what makes them tick and how they got to where they are today.

Amy Porterfield is one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Facebook marketing. She’s certainly influenced me, and I owe her a great deal of thanks for blazing the path for people like me.

I’m honored to consider Amy a friend in the industry, and I also appreciate that she would provide her time to this interview. I’m likely becoming notorious for my demanding interviews, and this one is no different.Amy Porterfield

But that’s part of what makes Amy’s story so fun to read. You’re bound to learn something new about her rise to the top as well as how to find your own success in life.

Amy is the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies and a Social Media trainer and speaker. With 12+ years marketing experience, Amy has worked with mega brands like Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, along with Peak Performance Coach, Tony Robbins, where she oversaw his content marketing team and collaborated on multiple online marketing campaigns.

She currently creates online programs like FBInfluence to teach entrepreneurs and small businesses how to leverage social media to gain greater exposure, attract quality leads and turn their fans and followers into loyal customers.

Make sure to like Amy’s Facebook Page and add her website ( to your reading routine.

Jon: Let’s start from the beginning… WAY back. You’re open about growing up in humble beginnings. Tell me about how your father influenced your life and led you to where you are today.

Amy: My dad was a firefighter for 30 years and used to tell me that there was never a day he woke up and didn’t want to go to work. I loved hearing how much he loved his job. He was really big on hard work — I don’t think there was a lazy bone in his body. So I grew up valuing hard work and dedication.

The best lesson he taught me was to choose a career where I was my own boss, because that would give me ultimate freedom. And he was right.

Jon: I LOVE reading about where successful people were before they made it big. Did I read this right? You were a biker chick straight out of college? There are pictures to back this up, right? Either way, you’ve gotta share more about this.

Amy: Ha! I was not technically a biker chick, but my dad owned a Harley and I loved going on rides with him and being around all his biker friends. So shortly after I graduated college I got a job in marketing for Harley-Davidson at the dealership level in Santa Barbara and Ventura, California. I loved the nostalgia of the brand and the brotherhood and history behind it all. I was there during their big 100 year anniversary celebration and it was a really cool time to be a part of the company. I got my motorcycle license during that time, but I never had my own bike.

I don’t ride anymore… those days are long gone.

Jon: You spent five years working for Tony Robbins. Beyond meeting Magnum PI Tom Selleck (serious?), is there a single experience or lesson from those years that you take with you today?

Amy: Yes, Magnum PI in Fiji was an experience to say the least, but that’s a story for another time!

There were so many lessons it’s difficult to choose just one! But my favorite has to be the lesson of “burning the boats.” Tony taught me that if I ever wanted to see real success, I had to move forward with pure focus and never allow myself a way back. He used the analogy of storming the island and burning the boats, so there was no choice — you had to move forward. I use that in all I do and it has served me well.

Jon: How many people make Amy Porterfield, Inc. what it is today?

Amy: I am the only full-timer on my team, but I also have two wonderful virtual assistants, Rebecca and Haley. I also hire contractors on a regular basis, so I have programmers and designers helping me with my various projects almost every month.

Jon: You are everywhere (Forbes, Social Media Examiner, ProBlogger, Mashable, The Huffington Post, Business Insider). I guess that deserves emphasis. EVERYWHERE! This type of exposure is killer (in a good way) for gaining authority and respect. I assume networking is a major part of your business. Do you have any insight into how it is you’ve managed to stamp your name on so many impressive places?

Amy: I have two secret weapons that have given me a huge boost in exposure and viral visibility — guest blog posting and Facebook ads.

I make a big effort to be a guest blogger at least once a month on sites that are bigger than my own. This has allowed me to get in front of people who would normally never have exposure to my work. Also, it sets me up as an authority and keeps me top of mind.

And speaking of staying top of mind, Facebook ads have allowed me to be seen over and over again by the people that matter most to my brand. My face pops up on my fans’ pages often due to my promoted posts and page post ads. These ads not only promote my webinars and programs, but they also serve as added exposure to stay on the radar of my potential customers.

Jon: You have a book (Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies). Was this a natural progression from blogging? What unique challenges did you face writing a book?

Amy: The book actually came about because I was at an offline networking event many years ago and met Andrea Vahl, who is also a Facebook marketing consultant. We stayed in touch via Facebook and when she was offered the opportunity to co-author the book, she suggested Wiley look into inviting me to be a co-author as well. The power of networking at it’s best! Wiley then checked out a bunch of my blog posts on my site and on all the sites where I guest posted and contacted me. Getting the opportunity to write the book was a mixture of offline networking and consistent blogging — two things I think are a MUST when growing your business online.

It was a challenge writing the book because unfortunately Facebook changes ALL THE TIME. We had to go back and re-edit the book before it ever got published because Timeline came out when the book was being written. It was not fun, but it has been rewarding.

Jon: I learn a ton from you on your webinars — not just about marketing, but how to use webinars to present yourself and your brand and ultimately make money. You say that webinars are your primary way to reach new audiences. Can you explain how they fit into your overall strategy?

Amy: I love webinars as a marketing vehicle because they are an extraordinary way to offer immense value, set yourself up as an authority, and establish yourself as the go-to source, all while promoting your programs and products.

Webinars are the #1 way I have built my brand, grown my list and exceeded my revenue goals. My motto in business has always been to find out what works and keep doing it over and over again (until it stops working!). Webinars continue to work for me, so I have no plans to stop.

Jon: One of my biggest hangups as a new “solopreneur” (that’s a word, right?) is creating my first product to sell instead of give away. I know what I want to do. But it’s incredibly challenging to find the time in the middle of all of the other work building my brand and managing clients to execute. You successfully did this with the training program. Okay… So considering the long list of things that you do for your business, how in the world did you pull it off?

Amy: It took a lot of discipline and focus. I literally had to get on the “No Train.” The “No Train” is something I learned from my mentor, Marie Forleo. It’s basically a period of time that you say “no” to almost everything that comes your way. And it’s NOT EASY to pass up on interviews, speaking opportunities and events — but it’s a must. I had to put my head down and get the program done.

I also had to stop being a perfectionist. It’s important to me that my products are outstanding, but I knew they would never be perfect. When I gave up the need for perfection, I started to make a lot more money. Funny how that works, huh?

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks in large part to Amy’s encouragement, I decided to finally launch my first product, the Facebook Page Strategic Review. I decided it didn’t need to be perfect and pushed ahead. Possibly the biggest move I’ve made yet!]

Jon: And of course, you are also a professional speaker. Do you remember your first speaking gig? What was it and how did it go?

Amy: My first real speaking gig was awkward and scary. I remember looking out at the audience and thinking, “They think I am a fraud!”

In the early days of going out on my own, I really struggled with confidence. It was tough to move out from behind the scenes of my former position at Robbins to the front stage. However, over the years it’s gotten easier. I think everyone should test the waters with public speaking. It takes you out of your comfort zone and pushes you in ways other projects just can’t. It’s scary and nerve-racking, but very worth it.

Jon: I gravitate to successful entrepreneurs who also have a family at home that keeps them busy. I know that I could never go back to working downtown and battling traffic every day again. That said, it can be a major challenge — particularly during the summer months — in terms of distractions. Tell me about how you balance family and business from a home office.

Amy: Working from home is a wonderful thing — and I agree, I could never go back to the corporate world. But the biggest challenge I come up against is turning work off at the end of the day and being fully present with my family. It’s all too easy to flip the laptop back on “for a minute” and an hour later find myself knee deep in work again! And because I never really leave “my office” (which is just about every room in the house at one point or another!) I had to quickly learn how important it was to move into family mode at the end of the day and forget work completely for the time. I know when I do this my husband and son are much happier and that makes me a happy camper, too!

Jon: I don’t know if you became more of a motivational person post-Tony Robbins or if that’s just how you are, but it’s a great characteristic. When I read your stuff, I come away feeling like I could do anything (which is an incredible gift). So, you’re on the spot… More people are starting their own businesses than ever before, but we’re also struggling. Come on, coach. Give us that pep talk that we need. Tell us why we’re gonna be okay!

Amy: It definitely came during my time with Tony — he drastically changed my mindset about my work and my relationships completely.

So here’s a little pep talk for anyone who’s feeling a little uncertain and overwhelmed while starting off on a new career path…

Tony taught me that 80% of success is finding a big enough “why” and 20% is figuring it out. If you focus on why you are doing what you are doing, the logistics will eventually fall into place.

But here’s the trick — that “why” has to mean something to you. It has to be enough to get you out of bed early in the morning and sustain you when you’re burning the midnight oil. That “why” has to be your comfort when the money is not coming in just yet and things seem a bit scary and overwhelming.

The early years make or break you and if you are passionate about what you are doing, and you believe you can make a difference, you won’t ever look back.

Jon: You said that when you discovered Facebook, “it was a total love affair.” When was this, does your husband know and what is it about Facebook that you love so much?

Amy: My husband is ok with it, as long as I don’t spend my days on Facebook looking up old boyfriends to find out what they’ve been up to all these years later. :-)

I fell in love with Facebook while I was helping Michael Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner, create a Facebook Page for his brand new website. This was a few years ago and I had no idea how powerful Facebook could be until I saw it in action with the Social Media Examiner fans. We went from zero fans to 30,000 fans in the first year. From day one the fans have been engaged and excited, too, so my first big Facebook success story fueled me to dive in even more.

I love that Facebook allows you to connect with the masses while maintaining a one-on-one personal touch. And although I often complain that Facebook changes too much, I must admit that I love how things have evolved and changed over the years. It keeps me on my toes!

Jon: The one thing our readers need to do today to be more successful on Facebook is…

Amy: …to experiment. Try new things and don’t give up too quickly. Promoted Posts, Offers, Page Post Ads, images, videos… there is so much you can test out to increase engagement and fan loyalty. One of the best things to do is choose five pages that you love and study what makes them interesting, fun and worth coming back to again and again. Model the strategies that work!

Jon: One of the things that drives me crazy about Facebook is their lack of communication. Many brands have noticed a drop in reach during the past couple of months, which leads to all kinds of conspiracy theories. I haven’t found anything conclusive, other than my stats show Viral Reach is down while everything else is fine. Do you micromanage your stats? What are you seeing?

Amy: I don’t micromanage my stats, but I am seeing the exact same data — my Viral Reach is down for sure. But you touch on something really valuable here that I would like to expand on a bit. There are so many conspiracy theories about Facebook — and I personally ignore most. Instead, I track what works and what does not work with my fans and my business and I use that as my guide. Also, I know my programs and products are good and I have confidence that they can change people’s businesses and lives; that’s my fuel for moving forward.

There is so much that is great about Facebook. It opens doors for businesses that would have never had such a platform to be seen and heard. It connects us at a level that is beyond anything we have ever seen. When something gets really big, as Facebook has gotten, people are quick to beat it down. But you can’t deny that it works — we’ve seen too many successful case studies of small businesses skyrocketing to success from their Facebook experiences. Focus on what’s working for you and do more of that. Sure, Facebook can be frustrating, but it can also be an extremely powerful tool to increase your customer loyalty and bottom line. Focus on what works for you and you just might be amazed how well it works for your business.

…And now I am stepping off my soapbox!

That was great, thank you, Amy!

Here are a few ways that you can connect with Amy, along with some of her amazing products: