The Untouchable Online Business Model

By Matt Giovanisci •  Updated: 07/28/21 •  9 min read  •  Articles

What’s your secret business sauce?

I want you to answer by the end of this article. But let’s start with two things that keep me up at night.

  1. Future-proofing my business.
  2. Making my brand untouchable.

How do I build an untouchable online business so far ahead of the game the only way to beat it is to buy it?

I took this idea and broke it down into three core values that make an online business untouchable while future-proofing it.

The Untouchable Business Model

1. Generosity

My business is run by a small team, including me, Steph (YouTube), and Stacy (Customer Service).

Extreme generosity is our mantra for 2021 and beyond. It’s why you a get a free education on all my sites and YouTube channels without spending a dime.

Extreme generosity is when you give away everything you know without a paywall. It’s putting meticulous care and attention into everything you make. It’s listening to your audience and giving them what they want.

Steph and I are practicing this on the Swim University YouTube channel, and it’s paying off. We’re getting comments like, “Wow, you’ve read my mind!” and “How did you know I needed this video today?!”

It’s because she reads all the comments. And not only on our own channel but on others. And the result? We built a solid and loyal customer fanbase just by doing the right fucking thing.

We don’t put our secrets behind a paywall or a free subscription. We dish it out, piping hot, right into your gullet, absolutely free.

And we do it without begging you for any personal information with an annoying AF popup or interruption. We actually care about the experience.

Targeted Generosity in Practice

One example is the insane amount of questions we get about Intex pools. These are small, inflatable pools that everyone snatched up during the pandemic because they were stuck at home. And there’s very little information on how to take care of these things.

Steph wrote down every question asked in the comments of our videos and other channels. Then, she wrote a 15-minute script answering every one of them.

Note: What I’m talking about is a form of keyword/competitor research. If you’re gonna be generous with your time, make sure it’s to develop information people actually want and search for regularly.

She put three weeks of work into the video. And when it was published, it was an instant smash!

The first 28 days got over 80,000 views, a 98.6% Like ratio, and 111 more comments with even more questions to fuel future videos. The video also earned the channel 725 new subscribers and $1,033.37.

Plus, it ranks for the term “Intex pool maintenance,” which will pay off long after this article is published.

It’s a result of being extremely generous with time, paying attention to the details, and giving away all the “secrets” without being a greedy bastard.

Using Generosity to Be Ridiculously Inventive

What sets Swim University, Money Lab, or Brew Cabin apart from my competitors besides everything I just talked about?

The willingness to explore creativity.

I put in 100 times more work than my counterparts to make something that’s genuinely fucking awesome, engaging, entertaining, and educational.

That’s my secret business sauce. I care more about my thing than you do about yours. And that kind of thinking pushes me to make untouchable content.

This is what builds trust and brand loyalty. It’s what makes collecting easier (more on this later). It’s the ultimate future-proofing strategy.

Case in point…

I made a space-themed video about brewing a New England IPA for my Brew Cabin YouTube channel. I wanted to take a popular topic and push the boundaries of what I could create.

And I hoped the Venn diagram of homebrewers, Kubrick, and Bowie fans was big. I had a feeling it was.

In the first 24 hours, it got more views than the channel has subscribers. Why? Because homebrewers shared the shit out of it with captions like this:

High Gravity Brewing Facebook Comment about Brew Cabin

There’s bravery in pursuing a unique idea. And the generosity of time and energy to create it pays off. It puts us lightyears ahead of the competition and builds an ironclad relationship with our audience.

Tip: If you’re having trouble with being creative, I developed a hack I call Passion Mashing. Take two things you’re good at and blend them together. For example, I grew up learning about pool care and producing rap beats for fun. So I made this:

Now it’s time to amplify that generosity.

​​2. Distribution

I had to figure out two things for my business. Who is my audience? What does my business do?

No shit, Matt! But it took me years to figure this out. And one of the biggest things that helped me was Traction.

I’m not one to do business exercises (or exercises in general), but I decided to follow the book. And to my chagrin, it helped me get clear.

  1. Who is my audience? Pool and spa owners.
  2. What does my business do? Online educational media in the form of articles and videos.

With this mission statement, I know what to do and who to do it for. Everything else is a distraction.

Using Clarity to Distribute Content

There are like a million places you can distribute your content.

If you know what you do and who your audience is, knowing where to distribute your content should be clear.

For me, my audience is older and not internet savvy. They only know the big players. So they’re Googling, YouTubing, and Facebooking.

They’re not listening to podcasts or arguing on Twitter. And they’re desperately keeping their tweens from TikToking all day.

And since my company makes articles and videos, we focus on Google and YouTube only. If we dive into another channel, it’ll be Facebook or Pinterest.

My friend Miles Beckler has a great video on this idea that inspired me to write this. Initially, I titled this core value Traffic Diversity. But he made it apparent it’s much bigger than just traffic.

This leads me to the final and most important core value of building an untouchable business.

3. Collection

This is just a simple word for turning your website visitors or video viewers into email subscribers. The goal is to take power away from the big platforms that control your content.

For my business, that’s Google. People visit my website because they found me on Google. They know about my brand because they saw a video I made on YouTube.

But what about after that?

Well, now you have the most powerful distribution channel of all. Email, baby! A direct line of communication to your audience without the stupid algorithms getting in the way.

What about the next extremely generous article or video I make. Will those past visitors and viewers see it? I don’t know; that depends on what Google wants them to see. It might be someone else’s site or channel.

I think this is where roping those little doggies into your ecosystem is crucial! That way, you have the power to send past visitors and viewers the new content you want them to see.

And more importantly, pitch them the products you have for sale. You’ll continue to have an online business in the future that doesn’t rely on king Google.

Here’s my email marketing setup for Swim University.

Some Other Things to Consider

I believe strongly in these core values. It’s easy to focus on just mastering three things. Whenever we’re in doubt as a business, we ask ourselves:

  1. Are we being extremely generous?
  2. Are we publishing on the right platforms?
  3. Are we collecting email addresses?

Of course, these are not the only things it takes to run an online business. We also have…

Standard Operating Procedures

We have a tight set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for writing blog posts, making videos, and answering customer service questions. And they’re all stored in Asana.

If you want a peek at our processes, take my Asana for Bloggers course.

Anal Organization

As a kid, I was lazy and disorganized. But as soon as I started my own business, I vowed to be organized. And I believe it’s the reason I get so much done so quickly. Plus, I don’t have kids.

I have a very organized digital life. Inbox zero every day. All my files are in Google Drive. They’re labeled and color-coded. My desktop is empty. My literal desk is clear.

“Clean desk, clear mind.”

Data Gathering Tools

“What gets measured, gets managed.” If we don’t know what’s working, we don’t know what to work on.

I don’t care about vanity metrics like site visitors or YouTube subscribers. I care about the metrics that impact my revenue. For me, that’s conversion rates.

What percentage of people who visit my site become email subscribers? And what percentage become customers?

A Nimble Team

“The smaller the ship, the quicker the turns.” Being able to move quickly is essential. We can fail fast and often. We can see what’s working and instantly double down. We can see what’s hurting our business and kill it in seconds.

Each team member is in charge of their own domain. There’s no chain of command.

Mix Those Together with Time

There is no substitute for time. The more you make, the deeper your roots grow and are impossible to compete against.​​​​​

This is the part that trips up the early entrepreneurs. It’s why I tell those people it’s going to take at least four years to get good and make a living from an online business asset. It’s like getting a college degree (which I don’t have – I did this instead).

If you consistently make extremely generous and high-quality creative content that attracts the right crowd to collect over time, you will have an untouchable business.

So untouchable that the only way to beat you is to buy you.

Now, what’s your secret business sauce?

Matt Giovanisci

I own three authority sites across different niches, including Swim University, Brew Cabin, and Money Lab. They earn a combined total of roughly $1,000,000 a year. I design and code all my sites. Write the words. Film and edit the videos. Produce the podcasts. Illustrate the graphics. And I have a small team that helps too.

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