What used to be ignored is now the hottest thing in social media – Instagram. While most people are lost as to how selling works on Instagram, Social media growth hacker and marketer Josue Pena has explored all its possible algorithm change and strategies and is called “The Guy” with all things Instagram. Josue reveals what led him to dabble in social media after having a pro career in soccer. He shares his four-step process of creating and distributing content that has been proven effective by his high-ticket clients. Don’t miss this episode if you want to turn your small numbers to big ones.
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My guest is Josue Pena. Josue, how are you doing?
I’m doing great. I’m here in Miami where the weather is beautiful. It’s amazing.
I’m in Orlando and it’s pretty hot. For those who don’t know, he was raised in the Dominican Republic. He saw an opportunity in social media to break the norm in a country where there’s very little progress. After four or five years of trying to do things his own way and failing completely, he decided to take a more engineer and analytical approach to social media. That’s when everything clicked.
He developed a simple four-step process to have your Instagram blow up. Since then, he has grown to over six million followers on multiple accounts across multiple niches and languages in a little over a year. He’s generated $1.5 million in 2018 alone, been featured and interviewed for different magazines, podcasts and promoted by Grant Cardone. He’s helped other celebrities and big-name entrepreneurs like Russell Brunson, Alex Becker, Anthony Morrison and many more, all coming from the underdog, poor, third-world country, where English is not even his first language. We’re going to dive all into that but let’s take a gigantic step back. Talk to me a little bit about growing up about how you got into this. What was your first entrepreneurial endeavor? Tell me your story.
I should update that bio because now it’s fifteen million followers and over $3 million. I got started into business by mistake because I wanted to become a professional soccer player and used social media to fuel that passion. I grew up in DR and lived over there my entire life. I was never going to be able to reach a professional level in soccer if I did it by myself. Nobody was going to come looking for me in DR. I used social media for that. I started in 2011, 2012 without having any success for four to five years and not making a single penny. In 2016, I decided to take a loan for $2,000 to buy a course. I started reading books. My mentality shifted.
I started growing my Instagram page. It’s called @ElationFootball and has over 100,000 followers. I got the chance to become a pro because of that. I realized that the life of a player isn’t as glamorous unless you’re Messi, Ronaldo or somebody who makes millions of dollars playing soccer. More than likely, your life is going to stink because you have to do a lot of sacrifices. You’re not making a lot of money, you’re just a piece in the machine that they can just take out. If you’re injured, you’re done. There are a lot of things happening at the same time. At that time, I decided that I made it. I did not quit. I did what I said I was going to do and got the chance to be pro. I “accomplished” my dream. It’s time to pivot and focus on something that’s long-term. That’s when I decided to go all in on social media and online business. That was in the summer of 2016. Since then, I’ve been doing what I do now. There have been ups and downs.
You are the Instagram guy. When a lot of people think of Instagram, they’ve looked towards you. There are so many people out there doing Facebook ads or all these different things. Why Instagram?
The life of a player isn’t as glamorous unless you’re Messi, Ronaldo, or somebody who makes millions of dollars playing soccer.
It was different. Instagram is like that ugly girl in high school that nobody wanted to date and be with. Back in 2016, people were babbling here and there. In 2017, I knew Instagram is going to go crazy. I saw it and said this is the place to be. I was that kid that was willing to date this ugly girl in high school. Now, everybody’s all about Instagram. The ugly girl in high school went to college and is hot now. She’s not about to date anyone because everybody ignored her. Very few people understand how to make money on Instagram and grow the platform. Because I’ve been in the game since 2011, I’ve seen every single possible algorithm change. I understand the platform fairly well.
What’s working in 2019 that people aren’t aware of?
It’s the same thing that worked since the beginning. People overly complicate it. I feel that people look for that silver bullet. They think like one silver bullet is going to save everything when in reality, it’s not. That’s not how it works. It’s like a machine with different pieces that work together to move the needle forward. There are two different variables that will always work no matter what platform is, content and distribution. If you’re able to nail those two things down, you will win.
When I say content, it’s what your audience wants to watch and finds valuable. The message on it is right and is in line with the monetization aspect. Most people say, “I can grow a big following and make money with it.” I’m like, “No.” After you have that nailed down, it becomes, “How many people can I put this in front of?” It becomes a distribution play. It becomes simple after that. The main part is understanding who you’re talking to with a simple market research. See what other influencers are doing and modelling success. If they’re posting a picture on a beautiful beach and you’re a traveler, you should do the same thing in your own style. It’s as simple as that. Let’s say you don’t want to be in front of the camera and want to build a big fitness page or a community page. You can build it with re-sharing other people’s content and tagging the original creator. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a personal brand or you want to be behind the scenes, you can do it either/or. That’s why I like Instagram.
Content is one of those things that scares people away. It’s a commitment. It’s something you constantly have to be doing. You mentioned two ways to go about it: creating your own and using other people. How do you create a good, solid content plan? How do you constantly come out with new content? I follow you on social media and see you’re constantly coming out with videos and different crazy ideas. How does the average person or business owner do that consistently?
For me, I just wing it. I feel like I have good intuition on what should work and what doesn’t. For the average person, see what other people are doing. I always say, “Do not try to reinvent the wheel and don’t overthink it.” For example, one of our clients, JC Capital or Dan Lok or Kevin David, see what we’re doing and model it in your own way. If you want to build a quote page in the relationship niche, see what other quote pages are putting out and model that. It’s not overly complicated. It’s about knowing what other people are doing and doing it yourself but adding your own twist to it. I think it was Da Vinci who said, “Great artists steal.” There’s not a single piece of content or art out there that has not been “stolen” or gotten inspiration from something or someone else. Now, we don’t live in an original world. We live in a world that’s all about re-sharing and repackaging content and information.
Do you have any story or example of a piece of content that you put out there and blew up and exceeded your expectations?
I posted a story that’s completely unrelated to business. I saw this article from CNN where it said Jay-z and Beyoncé as couple are worth a couple hundred million before, now they’re worth billions when they’re together. I posted that saying, “Let’s start a debate. Do you think being in a relationship helps you in your entrepreneurship journey or helps you to be more successful?” People are voting yes or no, I’m giving my own opinion. Ideally, you don’t want to do this because it was just images and texts on Instagram Stories, when you want to put more videos. It was an engaging topic. I gave my opinion on the subject. I called out people saying, “This is the interesting fact, the people who voted No versus the people who voted Yes. When I saw the stats, the net worth of the people who voted Yes was twenty times higher than the people who voted No.” The reason I know this is because I see the people who are voting. I know for a fact there were about twenty multimillionaires voting Yes. They’re all married, were a couple or spouse. There are three that voted No. Stats don’t lie. People were triggered by that. My DMs blew up and my staff was overwhelmed with it.
Let’s talk about your staff a little bit. I know you’re trying FreeeUp for the first time. I asked you before how it was going and you said you didn’t even know. You have a team of VAs that are handling that entire hiring process. A lot of people struggle with that, to pass that responsibility off to someone else. Can you talk to me about your hiring journey where you got to this point? I know you’re looking to make some big hires in the next few months. Who is your first hire and how has your team evolved? How are you now able to delegate those tasks?
We were doing $10,000 a month right before the ClickFunnels events. I remember talking to Brandon Poulin, who’s the CEO of Lady Boss. We went on a cruise together and they wanted to learn about Instagram. He asked about my business saying, “How’s your business?” I said, “I’m struggling because I have all these things on my plate. I’m feeling overwhelmed.” He said, “Focus on one thing. What’s your one thing?” “Instagram.” “Why do you have an eCommerce store and this fitness business? Why do you have all this stuff?” he asked. I said, “I’m a serial entrepreneur.” He said, “Stop it and focus on one thing.” That’s the first thing I did. Second, he said, “Hire somebody. The first thing you need is to offload stuff off your plate like the emails and responding to messages.” The first person I brought in was Isabela from our community. I made a post on Facebook saying, “I’m overwhelmed, we’re looking for somebody to come onto our team.” She was the first and only person I felt was qualified and understood what I was about and knows what I was doing. From there, we’ve hired and deployed people. It’s been a constant back and forth.
We wanted to sharpen the program with systems and building teams. Since then, things have improved a lot. We brought on a full COO, Amber. She is very experienced. You see cheaper rates but if you want quality talent, you’ll have to pay for it. She came in and revamped our entire hiring process and redid everything so I don’t have to do anything there. I don’t even know what happened to the hiring process to be honest. I see the amount of people that are being interviewed. There are 100 people being denied and one person hired. I didn’t even have to touch it. It runs without me overlooking it.
You’ve been hiring about a year-and-a-half, two years. Any hiring nightmare or horror story that stood out? I know you mentioned you fired some people.
You hire based on necessity. That was my thing. I say, “I need a video editor. Can you find me somebody that knows how to edit videos?” We found somebody that knows how to edit videos and they’re not a good fit. There was an issue before that somebody was referred by a friend, they knew how to create content. I was trying to help him out as well so I gave him the position. They didn’t have the amount of workload that they were supposed to, so I said, “You can do whatever you want as long as I’m your priority because I’m your main thing.” What ended up happening is he started taking multiple stuff even though I said I wanted to be the main focus. It was a horrible nightmare. He lied and he stole from the company. He gave reasons like, “I don’t have internet,” and then I see him posting selfies on Facebook.
Your net worth is your network.
What are you hiring people for? I think a lot of people have their own agency, course or similar business model. What are you using people for?
We’re using people mainly for the agency. It’s a service-based business so the infrastructure you need there is a lot bigger or more structured than on a course. On the course side, we do have customer support. We have about 45 people. They handle everything from the customer support for the agency and the course, the community managements, responding to emails. The course itself runs pretty much on autopilot. I haven’t been focusing too much on it but I’m planning to. First, because it’s not passive money. It’s somewhat passive and you’re able to impact a lot more people that way. It also helps fuel the agency. It’s like a lower tripwire to the actual agency. That’s what I hire the most for.
Students have had amazing success. I get about two to three testimonials a day, which is mind-boggling. I get people saying, “I made $11,000 in 24 hours from one Instagram Story with the framework that you showed me.” Other people say, “I didn’t have followers. I made $3,000 in five days from Instagram DMs.” It’s awesome seeing the testimonials of people saying how they come thru and how fast they’re growing both with free or paid content. It’s amazing to see how much clients the agency is taking on. We need to hire fast because we cannot handle the amount of deals that are coming in the door. We launched a new partnership. It’s already had a seven-figure run rate. There is so much stuff happening at the same time that it’s hard to keep up. That’s why we need to hire a lot of people.
Let’s talk a bit more about Instagram. You mentioned you have a four-step process. Can you walk us through that a little bit?
The four-step process is simple. First of all, it is market research. Second is content. Third one is consistency and fourth one is networking. If you can nail the first one down, you’re able to knock all the other three easily. Market research is simply seeing what other people are doing and modelling. If you’re in the fitness industry, keto for example, you would want to search Brandon Carter, who’s one of the people who are in the keto space who are crushing it. Maybe you are in the weight loss space for women, you would want to watch one of our clients, Lady Boss. See what they’re doing, what content they’re posting, what they’re creating, what stories they’re making, what captions they’re using. See how their audience is reacting, what bio they have, what their profile picture looks like. All these things that you might overlook that all go into one single profile, you want to look at every single aspect. You do that with one account or multiple accounts. You’ll start seeing patterns of what’s working. You see this account doing it and another one doing it. If they’re all big, chances are it’s working for them. What you should do is to do the same thing.
After you’ve done the market research correctly, the second pillar is content. You know what content works already because you did the market research. That pillar falls down. The third one is consistency. You have to post every single day ideally at least once. What contents should you post? You know what contents you should post and how many times a day should you post? You already know how many times a day you should post because you did the market research. The fourth one is networking. You all know your net worth is your network. It’s the same thing. There are about 500 million people that we’re able to reach within our network and people that I have worked with and collaborated with. That’s the reason why we’re able to grow so quickly. Who are the people that you are going to network with? The people that you just researched. Networking means if you have to pay for it, pay for it. That’s the distribution play. Networking is like the gasoline on the fire.
The first three pillars are the foundation and then everything blows up. The four pillars are simple as that and you’re able to grow extremely fast. I know people who have gone from 0 to 10,000 followers in the first week without having any experience but simply implementing these four things. Most people who hear me or see me and they say, “That makes sense,” but they won’t do anything with it. If you’re reading this, go implement it. Go do your research, #Research. See what people are using and model it. You’ll be surprised how fast you’ll grow if you do that. After you have the traffic, it all comes down to selling. Make sure you start selling.
Where can people find out more about you and what are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about the agency. We’re trying to go higher ticket clients, clients that have $50,000 – $200,000 per month budget. That’s what we’re trying to focus on instead of the lower ticket. For the people who have smaller budgets, I don’t want to dismiss those people. I was there myself and I wanted to learn or grow. That’s what the course and our pushing program is there for. The course, people can get it, go to IGBoss.com. It’s a completely free on-demand training. The webinar, they can go through it and learn. Even on that training, I show you step-by-step how to make over $160,000 with just 3,000 followers. I show the entire math on it, it’s a numbers game.
At the end of the day, people overlook the small numbers. In reality, the small numbers can turn into big numbers if they know how to sell. Selling higher ticket stuff is where people miss the mark the most. They try to sell a $5 t-shirt when they can be selling a $200 t-shirt if they just craft the message a little better. I know students that do jewelry. The whole thing that you see in Etsy for $20, he’s selling it for $500 and he’s making thousands of dollars. He just doing Instagram Stories, videos and posting the little rings. He’s selling every single one for $300 to $500. He’s getting orders from all over the world. It’s one of those things that people can start learning easily. The website is IGBoss.com and that’s where you can learn more. You can search me, Josue Pena, on Instagram and YouTube. We have content all over the place to help people grow and monetize their brand business. That’s what we do.
Thanks so much for coming on. I look forward to working with you in the future.
Josue Pena Born and raised in the Dominican Republic. He saw an opportunity in social media to break the norm in a country where there is very little progress. After 4-5 years of trying to do things my way and failing completely, he decided to take a more “engineer, analytical & replicatable” approach to social media, that’s when everything clicked.
He developed a simple 4 step process to have Instagram blow up. Since, he has grown to over 6mill followers, in multiple accounts, across multiple niches & languages in a little over a year, and has generated over $1.5 MILLION dollars in 2018 alone.
Been featured & interviewed for different magazines, podcast, promoted by Grant Cardone. He has helped celebrities and big-time entrepreneurs, like Russell Brunson, Alex Becker, Anthony Morison and many more. All by coming from an “underdog” poor third world country where English is not even his first language.”
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