Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello! My name is Brady Kirkpatrick, and I’m the Founder of Gun Made. Gun Made started as a blog about guns, ammo, accessories, guides, and more.
What started as a COVID side project has evolved into a media business capturing about 1.5 – 2 million readers per year. It generates about $15k per month in recurring revenue, mostly from affiliate marketing. In 2022, we will help retailers generate over $2.5M in sales. The crazy thing is, we’re just getting started.
There are so many different verticals in media that we have yet to capitalize on, such as advertisements, sponsored posts, brand promotions, and more. Gun Made is less than a few years away from becoming a seven-figure business.
Our next big project is creating an E-commerce platform that integrates pricing from hundreds of retailers to help consumers shop for the lowest-priced firearms.
My best decisions came from aggressively posting content and making sure we were the best resource on any given topic.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I have always had ambitions to build online businesses. Fortunately, I have great friends and mentors who run successful online businesses that have jump-started my career with the ideas and tools for success.
My story mostly started at the beginning of 2020, right before COVID shut everything down. I had a lot of time outside of my day job as a financial advisor and was trying to figure out the next way I can make money online. I noticed the gun industry lacked many unbiased reviews and guides on everything gun related so I decided to start a blog where we could share our knowledge and get paid to do it.
When everything was shut down during COVID, and most of my friends were in lockdown, partying, and finding anything to escape the situation, I would lock myself away and do everything I could to start and grow Gun Made.
I self-taught SEO and did a ton of research in multiple industries to figure out which industry was lacking the most. What I found was that the gun industry has a huge problem.
Most platforms including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others ban gun companies from doing pay-per-click ads. Essentially, this means there’s no way for them to pay for advertising through the biggest media platforms. This was when I found out the gun industry had a ton of upside and a ton of opportunities for someone with SEO and organic content knowledge.
Our newest projects that we are working on came from a study we ran that showed a majority of consumers generally look for the lowest-priced gun or accessory before making a purchase. They aren’t as emotionally tied to any relationships with retailers, so we are building out a tool to aggregate numerous retailers’ prices to show consumers the lowest price products. Think Priceline.com in the gun industry.
Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.
The growth of our business stems mostly from organic SEO. Essentially, we would reverse engineer the Google search engine to figure out what topics, questions, and product people want to know more about and we create content on it.
The site started out with tons of gun-related content to get readers to the site. Once we started getting hundreds of thousands of readers to the site, I knew I needed to start thinking about the next idea.
I then got the idea to create the pricing aggregation software for our website. We have a first version that is currently rolled out. But essentially we hired a software company that could help create what we wanted with the vision we had in mind.
Some people come to our site to learn about guns or read about specific guns they’re looking into, we attempt to direct them over to our pricing tool to help them also shop for the lowest prices and then we get paid either a commission or by pay per click on any retailers they click through to.
Getting everything up and running took about 15 months and $65,000 out of pocket until we had our first profitable month.
Keep your head down and get ready to grind. You need to wrap your head around the fact that it’s going to be a slow process, but if you can master the aspect of delayed gratification, you’ll be light years ahead of your peers at the end of the tunnel.
Describe the process of launching the business.
It was a slow and painful process, but with the world being in lockdown, it was a lot easier to focus. I wasn’t missing out on much.
All of the funds used to start the business were from personal savings. A lot of the work I did at the beginning was self-taught. I created and designed the website, interviewed and hired writers, managed all the SEO efforts, and outreached to gun brands.
At first, convincing companies in the gun industry to work with us was a bit challenging, on both the retailer and manufacturer sides. Most retailers who have affiliate programs want to see a track record of readers and unique visitors before working with them, and we hadn’t been there yet.
Fortunately, I got on Zoom with the right people, showed them our business and marketing plan, and they felt confident enough to work with us from the beginning.
Once we got the first retailer to accept us, the rest followed. It was great.
Now, at the start of 2023, we have a waitlist of retailers wanting to list pricing on our website. On top of that, we have TONS of companies wanting to send us products to review and promote on our site.
This was the first version of our blog. Doesn’t look terrible, but it has evolved!
I would say about 12-15 months in was when we started getting about 40,000-50,000 readers per month. That’s when things started growing exponentially.
My biggest advice for anyone starting a business is to be patient. There were numerous times when I wanted to give up, take on outside capital, or take on partners to help kickstart things. I would’ve made a big mistake by giving up the equity because of my inability to be patient.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
My biggest piece of advice to attract customers is to learn content marketing. You don’t have to be doing everything yourself, but if you can have a deep knowledge and understanding of how content marketing works oh, you can make sure you’re hiring the right people and executing a solid marketing plan.
For most people, the hardest part about running a business is getting customers, so if you can have a decent knowledge of marketing, this will accelerate lot of your growth and save you a lot of money.
I think in today’s day and age, the best way you can grow your customer base is to aggressively create content, whether it’s blogs, social media, or anything that shows a good representation of your product or brand. We aggressively created content, and I know several businesses that successfully grow just from having a great marketing plan.
Here is a Google Search Console graph showing how much our traffic has grown over the last year.
If you’re considering increasing your content marketing efforts to help drive new business, then do the following;
- Start learning more about keyword research
- Find great content creators or writers to create valuable and resourceful content
- Learn more about SEO
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The business is profitable, which is great, but I have plans to at least 10X revenue from where we are today. In the affiliate marketing industry, margins are pretty high because you can hire people to work remotely, which means you can outsource to many international countries. This can be a lot more cost-friendly.
On average, most affiliate marketing business models tend to run at 70% margins on the low side. It all depends on how efficient and cost-effective you are with your team and content creators or writers. It can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it.
Looking exactly one year back, we have quadrupled our revenue and have goals to quadruple again for next year. The sky is the limit with online businesses.
My biggest goals are to be the largest blog and the gun industry and help generate over $50 million per year in gun and ammo-related sales.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The biggest mistakes I made started from the beginning by rushing some aspects of the marketing plan, such as – hiring lazy writers, not editing and proofreading content, and trying to grow too quickly. Create a detailed business plan and stick with it. Don’t cut corners; it’s only going to hurt in the long run.
My best decisions came from aggressively posting content and making sure we were the best resource on any given topic.
I would also recommend creating and documenting your processes from the beginning, as this will help you when you start to grow your team and hire out different tasks.
Having very documented SOPs Has been an absolute game-changer in allowing me to delegate tasks and hire the right people for specific jobs. It’s easy to see when an aspect of the business is slacking because I can review the SOPs to figure out what we need to fix and improve on.
My best habit is constantly living, breathing, reviewing, and updating our SOPs. That’s the best way to create scale and give yourself the best opportunity for aggressive growth.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
My absolute favorite tools are Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These give you so much insight into your customer acquisition, demographics, and how they interact on your site.
Going further, we have Microsoft Clarity installed which allows us to see where people are hovering and clicking on the site so we can get data on how to improve the user experience and where to place certain ads or links to help us make more money.
Lastly, we use Ahrefs to help create our content marketing plan. This allows us to essentially reverse engineer the Google Search engine to decide what types of content to create to get the most readers.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Alex Hormozi’s podcast, ‘The Game’ is an absolute must-listen podcast. He’s an entrepreneur who runs numerous online businesses that generate over $75 million per year of sales.
He talks a lot about different hurdles, thought processes, and decisions many entrepreneurs come across and have to make. He talks about building up and maintaining teams.
Overall, he gives more advice on running businesses than most people I’ve ever listened to. I’m also a fan of his podcast because he doesn’t run any advertising, so it’s truly an ad-free listening experience.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Keep your head down and get ready to grind. To all younger entrepreneurs, don’t get caught up in the 9-5 culture that many of your peers are probably stuck in. You need to wrap your head around the fact that it’s going to be a slow process, but if you can master the aspect of delayed gratification, you’ll be light years ahead of your peers at the end of the tunnel.
I see a lot of people make the mistake of trying to bring on partners into their business when they feel like they’ve reached an endpoint. Don’t ever bring on a partner that is just providing capital or wants to be a passive partner. It’s going to frustrate you extremely when you are working long nights and days to grow the business and they are passively watching or giving advice.
I would say the best time to bring on a partner is when the business is at a good enough valuation for you to be happy taking a large check for a percentage of the company.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Founder of Gun Made
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