A veteran entrepreneur, Scott Hughes is the founder of OnlineBookClub.org. He is also a highly sought-after author of four books; Justice: A Novella, 10 Step Plan to Promote Your Book, Achieve Your Dreams, and The Banned Book about Love. He recently announced that he finally finished the first draft of his next book “#InItTogether: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All.”
Born and raised in Manchester, Connecticut, from 2006-2014, he worked at various modest jobs on the side, including being a server and bartender at various local restaurants. In late 2014, Scott eventually decided to give up his side jobs and focus working full-time on just one thing – OnlineBookClub.org. OnlineBookClub.org is a bibliophile’s heaven and one of the best websites around for booklovers. It has it all; free books, daily contests, book discussions, and so much more. OnlineBookClub.org will even pay people to read and review books plus; it’s free to use, hence why it grew at such a rapid pace.
Since 2014, OnlineBookClub grew from strength to strength, and, as of November 2021, OnlineBookClub has garnered over 2.7 million registered members. Its development team recently released an OnlineBookClub e-reading app which is supposedly meant to compete with Amazon Kindle, called OBC Reader – it’s now available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple Store.
MoneyCentral magazine recently caught up with Scott to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur, and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Fundamentally, I grow the business exponentially with a simple formula: I delegate whatever and as much as I can, hiring new people as needed. Then I take the time of mine that’s been free to do extra work or new projects that I wouldn’t have had time for otherwise. I also push that pattern down the chain as much as possible so that the other people I have working for me delegate what they can to others, especially new hires, freeing up themselves to take on more work.
Essentially, when I hired my first full-time assistant, it doubled the output. Then I eventually hired two more people, one for me to delegate to and one for my assistant.
For me, it comes down to crucial ingredients: Delegation and leveraging the power of exponents and exponential growth.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
My Social Media Director, Beth Jackson, leads our social media team. To be properly active on multiple social media platforms requires an entire team of people. Off the top of my head, we currently primarily use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Reddit, LinkedIn, Minds.com, and MeWe.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
It depends on what you are advertising. PPC on search engines like Google can provide highly targeted leads at almost unlimited volume, fairly easily. But it only works if you have a way to monetize those targeted leads in a way that exceeds the cost of obtaining them at volume. For instance, I don’t feel that it’s a good strategy for advertising a single $3 book because the profit per book sale will not be enough to cover the cost of obtaining an initial lead and a $3 sale from the ads.
If the cost of your product or service is high enough and converts well enough with targeted leads, it can work. But another factor is whether you are using those leads to create long-term relationships. So, for instance, it could work great for a subscription service, such as one of those weekly subscription boxes for prepared food in the mail.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
My main tactic is making the best product I can or in other words, ensuring customer satisfaction. I follow this motto: Great advertising only makes a bad product fail faster. And, in a competitive commercial setting, anything less than great or amazing is a bad product. In a competitive commercial setting, merely good is not good enough.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Viral marketing is the only thing that has ever really worked for me. You make a great product or service, and then as needed, find a way to encourage your customers or users to spread the word. The more important part is the former, and depending on the business and product the latter may do itself.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Personally speaking, my wife and I chose to get divorced in early August. That’s not really business-related, but it definitely comes to mind when you mention tough decisions.
But it speaks to this point: business decisions aren’t really ever tough for me. It’s the common cliché from movies and such that someone says usually before doing something seemingly mean “It’s not personal; it’s business.” Business is often just math. Which one makes more money? Which one costs less? Which one takes less time? What’s the bottom line?
What mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
When I first went full-time working on my business without any side jobs to pay my rent and put food on the table, I was working 70-80 hours a week. My profit—meaning what I paid myself—the first year doing that was $20,000. I worked 70-80 hours because I had to keep the business from going under and pay my rent and bills. I was scraping by the pennies some weeks—literally; I remember taking my jar of coins to the Coinstar machine on the 10th of the month because rent was due and I literally would have been short unable to pay it without cashing in the $5-$10 in coins I had.
I prefer the term learning experience to mistake, but what I would have done differently if I knew what I knew now is this: Once I got in that habit of working 70-80 hours a week, I kept going for years beyond what I had to. The company and business became very successful, I became very successful financially and professionally. About a year or two ago, I started cutting back and working a lot less per week. I could have afforded to do that much sooner.
And giving myself more free time personally made me more creative and thoughtful, so I think it’s actually been helping the company and business grow even more, ironically.
Sometimes the best ideas for the company come to me while I’m sitting in my hot tub looking up at the moon and stars.
What new business would you love to start?
I would love to start some kind of business that helps people achieve their goals and dreams, particularly in a way that focuses on self-discipline. For me, I use the term self-disciple interchangeably with the term spiritual freedom.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I got started young. I created OnlineBookClub.org when I was still a teenager.
In one way, I made a ton of mistakes both professionally and personally. My values and priorities now as a 35-year-old man are so different. This 35-year-old Scott speaking to you now would do things much differently than teenager-Scott, but he did what was right for him. If he had done anything differently, the man speaking to you now wouldn’t exist. So I wouldn’t change anything. It’s the Butterfly Effect. I believe in the principle of Amor Fati, meaning love your fate, which in this context means seeing the past as being perfect just as it is. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Another way of saying the same is to say accept what you cannot change. I believe strongly in that, and the past is something I cannot change, so I believe in wholly accepting it and embracing it with inner peace, seeing it as perfect.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
I wasn’t given it personally, but my best advice comes from Ram Dass, as paraphrased by Mike Posner, and it’s only three words: “Just Love Everything.”
I have that tattooed on my right forearm, where I can see it every day.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
You have to be driven by something other than money. In my anecdotal experience and just from watching the world around me, I’ve found that those who desperately chase money are the least likely to find it. In contrast, when you work hard on yourself and your real dreams, the money chases you. Money and even health and physical fitness are only really ever a means, not an end in themselves. Without some kind of vision or passion to be the real end, the real goal, the real dream, it’s like driving a car with no gas.
When someone overvalues money itself, that person often tends to end up getting paid to work on someone else’s dream in exchange for money.