Hi, my name is Ryan Sprance
Here’s a short synopsis of who I am and what I have been working on. I am the creator of TheStylishMan.com We are a men’s digital magazine with large social media presence. Over the last 4 years I have built the following media properties.
- @stylishmanmag and @shopthatgrid IG accounts with a combined 320,000+ followers.
- I also have one of the largest Flipboard magazines out of over 35 million. I have had 50+ million views and 608,000 readers in the last 4 years. I contribute to another 45 magazines. I’m now a verified publisher.
I have created all of this as a side hustle. I have a demanding corporate job which keeps me busy from 8am-5pm. A few years back after reading Crush It, I came to a fork in the road revelation. I either needed to commit the time and effort needed to grow my own business or set it aside and always wonder what could have been. I have a long term vision of building the next GQ in the digital world so I made the commitment to alter my lifestyle dramatically.
Here are the 4 most important things I learned from GaryVee.
1. Change Happens, Adapt or Perish
Last year I saw Gary speak in New York City for a select group of about 40 people. During a Q&A a woman stood up and asked him about her black car limo business that she has run for 30 years. Business was great but since Uber and Lyft, they were losing clients by the day. She asked for advice and Gary replied “Get out. Sorry to be harsh but the end is coming.” He went on to make a profound statement which I think about daily.
“The day the car was invented, there was someone who owed a hundred horses.”
There could not have been a more impactful analogy at the time. The world was changing regardless if we want it to or not. On many occasions I would see my efforts render less and less results.
I could have complained about it (and probably did at times) or banged my head against the wall trying the same things over and over. If I didn’t adapt I would have perished on my way up.
2. Engage with Everyone, But be Authentic
Pushing out content for the sake of it gets you nowhere in the long run. From watching and listening to Gary, I’ve learned that authenticity always wins out.
None of this “fake it till you make it shit.” It adds no value to anyone. This helped me formulate my way of thinking when it comes to content development.
I found myself at times making content decisions based on what got the most engagement. In speaking with Gary he told me
“You can’t pay your mortgage with Instagram hearts.”
When I started to provide behind the scenes insight into what we were doing and asking questions on what people wanted to see, the engagement became real and more consistent.
3. Don’t be Paralyzed by Fear, Failure is the Not the End
Failure, as long as it is framed correctly in your mind is a powerful motivator.
Don’t be paralyzed by it. Don’t make excuses for it and most of all don’t defer the blame on to someone else. Assume total responsibility for the situation you are in. During my journey I’ve made some decisions that in the long run failed.
Adapting a mindset of using fear as a motivator allowed me to bounce back from loses and focus on the long term macro while executing on the daily micro.
4. Do the Work
The most real video anyone can watch is his Overnight Success rant. Anytime I feel like giving up, I watch this. If you have the audacity to think that you can do something for the rest of your life, you must put in the effort every day, day in and day out.
Punt activities that do no move you closer to your goals. Have the self awareness to know if something is not working and find the resources you need to by studying what works and then do more of that. Execute with speed on the daily micro but keep perspective on the long term macro. These are words of wisdom.
So I adopted the 9pm to 2am grind. In order to make this work I needed to learn everything I could about what was working and what was not with social media. Every platform I entered, it was a struggle and I needed to learn a new science. You want to grow my Instagram audience?
LEARN THE SCIENCE.
I needed to study every detail about the strategy like I was back in school. I would invest 12–15 hours a day A/B testing, posting strategies, sharing partnerships, hashtags, content curation and creation. As things started to click I began to exercise a full court press.
The additional challenge came when I wanted to branch out into other platforms. I didn’t want to be an Instagram “influencer”. Don’t get me wrong, influencers are great and it is a sweet gig if you can accomplish it. When I looked at a traditional magazine like Esquire or Men’s Health I asked myself, who has the most power here, the most influence? Is it the guy on the cover of this magazine, or the person who owns the magazine that put him there?
I wanted to be THAT guy.
Being at the mercy of a platforms algorithm changes or monetization strategy was NOT an option to build a long term viable business plan. I knew I needed to expand to Pinterest, creating my own site, building an email list and up the antee on creating original content.
Each one of these is like learning another science all together. I needed to put in the work. As I tested and gained knowledge across other platforms, I realized I had a unique value. I could leverage the partnerships I created on Instagram to approach other influencers across other platforms and barter. I sent thousands of emails that sounded like this “I see you have a large following on Pinterest in the men’s space but you have a limited audience on Instagram, If you allow me to contribute to your Pinterest board, I will teach you the ropes on Instagram and share your profile”. I used this cross platform barter strategy to build a massive network on Flipboard, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn which now reaches over 3 million people.
This didn’t always work, time and time again, I went through the process of sending countless DM’s:
As brands started to notice what I was doing I got more and more requests. My first client came in October of 2016 when a brand noticed my partnerships with dozens of influencers and asked “How do we know which influencers to reach out to?” My response was “You hire my company to do it for you.” At that moment my small agency came to life. I started to add several clients and launched my own original content site giving me even more leverage.
When I was at that crossroads, I decided to ‘punt’.
I punted bad personal relationships, I punted hours of TV, I punted bosses and organizations that treated more poorly.
Using the “Crush It” philosophy, I have been able to learn the value of my 24 hour day. More ‘pockets of time’ were identified where I could be productive.
My 3 hours daily commute from New Jersey to New York went from watching marathons of shows to commenting on literally tens of thousands of Instagram posts to help build my audience. Because of the “Crush It” philosophy I have been able to focus on putting in the work needed to build the vision that lives deep in my mind.
Here are the top 3 ways I managed to grow my Flipboard Reach:
1. Curate Quality Content in the Niche You Are In:
I have a list of over 200 sources in my niche area which is Men’s Fashion, Fitness, Grooming, Gadgets and Guy Stuff (tag line). I read hundreds of articles a week to find the best ones to curate.
2. Be consistent — Flip Daily, Multiple Times Each Day.
Engage with anyone who comments. Be aware of what items get re-flipped and find / create more content like that. You will know quickly what works. You will see some articles get added to 30–50 additional magazines by your readers. Add more of that type of content.
3. Create Partnerships / Provide Equal or GREATER (51/49) Value to Your Collaboration Partners
When someone gives me the ability to collaborate in a magazine, I make sure I promote the magazine often and give them shares across my other social media. I always want them to feel like they are getting the better end of the deal. When I did not do this, I would lose the partnership. It is a privilege to be given the ability to share your content with someone else’s fan base. You need to treat is as such.
As far as eating dirt…. Well, in order to collaborate on Flipboard (and Pinterest) it is not like Instagram or Twitter. There is no DM option. If I found a person on Pinterest, I would spend hours trying to find them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram or even their own website so I can approach them about collaborating. It is a painful process but when someone with 15,000 followers comes back after a month and agrees, it is worth the effort as you now have 15,000 more people to amplify your content to.
Simply stated: I put in the work.
Thank you Gary for all you have done!