Exclusive interview with Ryan Hogue
Ryan Hogue seems to be an extremely busy man: He runs his own Youtube channel, online school and generates income via multiple e-commerce channels. But as it turns out, the founder of Ryan Hogue’s Passive Income School, almost never sets his alarm and spends much of his day playing with his dog.
In this in-depth interview the charming computer nerd gives us insight into why he quit his day job, how programming helps him navigate everyday decisions and his newfound obsession with macroeconomics.
Who is Ryan Hogue?
“I was born and raised in Northern Virginia in the United States and I still live here today. As a kid I loved computer games and spent a lot of time on my pc. So, when I went off to college, my parents suggested I study IT. One thing led to another, and I ended up becoming a web developer. By the time I graduated I was working 9 to 5, had my own LCC, worked with freelance clients and ran multiple websites.
All this was great, but I always had what you’d call the entrepreneurial itch: I wanted to start my own company and have my own additional income streams. In late 2016 I finally took the jump: I decided to teach myself ecommerce and learn how to sell on Amazon, which led me to learning about Print on Demand. I subscribe to the mindset of making it easy for your customers to find you. Instead of just focusing on Amazon, I started selling on as many online marketplaces as possible.
After a few years, I realised that there was a high demand for courses on how to start your own online business. I am not ashamed to admit that I paid someone 2500 dollars to teach me how to sell on Amazon. It turned out to be a worthwhile investment because it helped me become a multimillion-dollar Amazon-seller. It did not take me long to realise that I could parlay my success with the e-commerce stuff and my experience in teaching web development into opening my own online school…”
How about being your own boss?
“I have always dreamt of being my own boss, but one thing that accelerated my decision was my daily commute: Although I lived close to my work, the traffic in Northern Virginia is brutal. It used to drive me crazy to think of all the hours wasted on driving every day. I would obsess over the amount of time I spent every day doing something that I did not actually care about.
Looking back, I realise that I hung on to my day job a lot longer than I needed to. Maybe it was my upbringing: My parents always trained me to subscribe to the mindset of “Go to school, get a job, wait until you die.” There is nothing wrong with that and it worked for them, but I wanted something else.”
Is the typical 9 to 5 model becoming increasingly outdated because of the current pandemic and digital revolution?
“Yes, especially remote work is becoming more widespread. What’s funny is that I quit my dayjob in February 2020… I thought I finally had all the freedom in the world to travel. My girlfriend and I had plans to go to Alaska, Colorado and Mexico, but then, of course, I ended up having to delay all our travel plans for over a year…. That was kind of brutal.”
What does a normal day in the life of Ryan Hogue look like?
“The best thing about my current day is comparing it to what it was like when I was still working 9 to 5. Back then my days were very full and very structured: I knew I was going to wake up at a certain time, go to work at a certain time, then go to the gym, my second job, my girlfriend’s house… There were no surprises. Even free time wasn’t free time, because I knew exactly what I would be doing.
I am not saying this is a bad way to live: When I would go to sleep at night, I would feel I had accomplished everything I needed to get done. I felt I was pushing my life forward. But now that I have stepped away from the 9 to 5 job, the flexibility and freedom is real: I don’t set an alarm when I wake up. I play with my dog. My girlfriend and I can do what we want when we want.
I am still good about getting what I need to get done, but outside scheduled meetings like this one I don’t feel any pressure to do something because of time constraints. The time constraints have disappeared. After almost 10 years of being spread thin, working multiple jobs, running my business, and keeping up with my private life, this feels like a huge blessing.”
How do you divide your time between teaching and running your e-commerce businesses?
“I try to be as transparent as possible about where my money comes from: On the first day of every month, I do an income report: Last month I made 24 001 dollars, for example.
I would say the real manual work came in to generate 6000 dollars of ad revenue on Youtube. The other work was as passive as it could possibly be: For example: The Amazon FBA side of my business is very passive. All I have to do is re-order inventory and keep it in stock. In POD I also use automation to create new listings. So, all of that is outsourced, automated, minimal work for me.
This frees up a lot of time for teaching. I think of the work I do for Youtube as part of my teaching work, so if I needed to give you a number, I would say I currently spend 90 percent of my worktime teaching. All my other businesses are at the point where they are passive and scalable.”
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
“I think we have all had that teacher we remember. The teachers that have inspired me were the ones who talked about the real world. When teaching, I always try to give an additional insight into why I recommend doing something a certain way. I do not want people to just take me at face value. I want them to understand why I do what I do. You could say I want to help them rewire their brain a little bit, to think more logically. When I learned how to programme it re-wired my brain.
“When I learned how to programme, it re-wired my brain”
– Ryan Hogue
This is an interesting point. Some people say programming is the new literacy. When the printing press was invented only a small percentage of people could read. Today only a small percentage of people can programme.
How important do you think knowing how to programme is in today’s world?
Apart from the obvious fact that there are a lot of job opportunities for programmers, programming changes the way you think. Anyone who learns how to programme learns to think in a more logical way. Programming helps me navigate the world that we live in. It helps me make more rational choices and decisions every day.
We may not even realise it, but there are many external influences trying to guide us down certain paths. We can easily be tricked into thinking we have made our own organic decisions, while we actually haven’t. And it’s not just about business, but about life in general: We are constantly influenced in different ways. For example, if you watch a TV commercial you may ask yourself: “Should I buy that?”
I am not trying to hate on anybody, but my point is: Being a programmer helps you think more…hopefully at least.”
Which course is your most popular one and why do you think that is?
“My most popular course is called “The Dropshipped Print on Demand Course“. It shows how I make money from Print on Demand from every opportunity other than Merch by Amazon.
The course basically shows how I take my Merch by Amazon designs and put them in a bunch of other products and marketplaces. I realised that if I can make 5 grand from Merch by Amazon, I can probably make 5 grand from all the other places too. My “Droppshipped Print on Demand Course” teaches Etsy, Ebay, Amazon Sellars Central, Redbubble and so on…
Recently I have started taking modules from my main “Dropshipped Print on Demand Course” and split them off into many different courses. So, if you just want to learn about a particular topic, for example POD design, then you can just buy that module for a much lower price.”
Do you also teach Merch by Amazon?
“Yes. I have split Merch by Amazon into a separate course, because it’s such a unique beast: I made 5000 dollars of profit just on Merch by Amazon last month. I thought such a massive, unparalleled opportunity deserves its own course.”
How long does it take you to create one course?
“I spent over a year writing my first Amazon FBA course. It took forever because I had a written portion and a recorded portion, but I took extreme pride in putting together the best thing possible.
Today I only do videos and just put links and references underneath. This is much simpler, and it doesn’t take me nearly as long to make changes to my content. I can now launch a new course in about a month.”
What makes your courses unique?
“One interesting aspect of my approach is this: I’ll help you start, scale and automate your e-commerce business. It may sound like it’s just another tagline, but it truly reflects the steps I took when I started my own businesses. All I ever promise my students is that I teach them exactly how I do it. I’ve been at this for over 4 years, but people can get where I am at in under a year if they take my courses.
I always tell people up front: You don’t need my course. You can figure this out on your own. There is only one difference: If you take the course, you will get where you need to be much faster. All things considered; this can be more profitable. Think of it like a math equation: If it would take you x number of weeks or months without the course, then it can be a more worthwhile investment to just pay up front.”
I always tell people up front: You don’t need my course. You can figure this out on your own. There is only one difference. If you take the course, you will get where you need to be much faster
– Ryan Hogue
What do your students like most about your courses?
“I think what they love is that they if they comment on a lecture, send me an e-mail or facebook message, I will usually respond in under 10 minutes. I don’t know whether I will be able to keep this up forever, so I am not making any promises. But it all boils down to this: I am who I say I am. I use my real name and I try to be there for my students as much as possible.
There are so many predatory, fake gurus out there. I am a real teacher who actually does the e-commerce stuff, really sits at his computer and responds to his own messages.”
Is this also why you publish your income reports every month?
“I take a lot of pride in this. What inspired me to get started is that I saw people who looked predatory to me publish fake income reports online. They would say “Look at me, I made 1 million dollars”, but forget to photoshop the comma into the fake reports, for example. I am trying to be as transparent as possible by publishing real numbers.” (watch Ryans Income Reports here)
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
“I like seeing the positive feedback from the people.”
As a Youtuber you are placing your face in the public space. Was that scary at first or did it come naturally?
“When I started my channel, I had already been teaching at the college level for 5 years, so that definitely helped. I probably put off creating my Youtube channel for about 6 months longer than I intended. Then one day I just decided: I am not going going to sleep until I get my first video published. I spent 8 hours doing it and went to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning. So, I was miserable, because I still had to go to work the next day, but I just forced myself to get this done and get over this anxiety. It’s like anything else in life: The more you do it, the easier it gets.
I always look to simplify things. It’s what helps me get so much done. Learning to programme made me think that way.
– Ryan Hogue
I always look to simplify things. It’s what helps me get so much done. For example: I use templates for my Youtube videos to make them look more professional, even though I don’t spend a lot of time editing. I do little things like that. Learning to programme made me think that way.”
Many people say that the POD market is oversaturated. What’s your take on this?
“I like to be practical in all the advice I give. When people ask me this question, the first thing I always say is: Today is the best day to start, because it’s not going to get better tomorrow or the day after. So, no matter how saturated something is, it’s only going to get worse. (laughs) So: Start today.
Today is the best day to start, because it’s not going to get better tomorrow. So: Start today.
– Ryan Hogue
The second thing I do is to send them my income reports, so they can see how much money I make and decide whether it’s worth it for them.
Thirdly, I recommend taking advantage of the high barrier opportunities, like opening a seller’s central account. Not many people do that because it’s not easy, it’s not instant and it costs money. This instantly filters out half the pack. So: Take advantage of that! It’s little things like that, which can make a big difference. But I know that even though this is my advice, only a small percentage of people will actually follow it. They’ll think: “I’ll just start on Redbubble, because it’s free and it’s instant.” And then you hear people say that Redbubble is too saturated. Well: Of course it is! It’s the lowest barrier of entry. Of course, it is going to be oversaturated. So, my advice is: Sell in higher barrier places.”
I recommend taking advantage of the high barrier opportunities.
It’s little things like that, which can make a big difference.
– Ryan Hogue
What other advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own online business?
“Maybe this is more of a general advice for life, but my number one advice is to get over impostor syndrome. We tend to be our own biggest doubters. Life is short and if you are not going to be the one who believes in you the most, it’s going to be really tough to get anything done.
I respect people who dare to be exceptional, even if they fail. If you strive to do something exceptional, something more than what’s expected, then you get my ultimate respect, no matter whether you made it or not.
Impostor syndrome holds people back. Ability is not the problem. Everybody has got ability. It’s the self-doubt that cripples us. So why not flip impostor syndrome into being your own biggest supporter and believer? Go get whatever you need to get done done.
Start by asking yourself: What do you want to achieve ?
Then ask yourself: Can I reverse-engineer that into a plan and then take a step every single day. Just chip away at it, little by little, every single day.
And, at the end of each day, when you go to bed, ask yourself: Did I get a little bit closer to achieving my goal? Yes? Okay, perfect.
Whatever people think I have accomplished: I am still a normal person like everybody else. Yes, I put my content on YouTube, but even if I didn’t have the channel, I would be doing things exactly the same way. I just want to inspire people to be exceptional and try to do something that is maybe a little bit difficult.”
My number one advice? Get over impostor syndrome.
Life is short. Impostor syndrome holds people back. Ability is not the problem. Everybody has got ability. It is the self-doubt that cripples us. So why not flip impostor syndrome into being your own biggest supporter and believer?
– Ryan Hogue
Last but not least: We’ve talked plenty about how you make money. But what do you like to spend all that money on?
“The short answer is: I don’t spend that much money. I live at my computer, so what do I really need? Before I started the e-commerce stuff, I already had a nice house and the car that I had wanted. So: What do you do after that? What’s next? I guess I want a nicer house and a nicer car, but that’s not what motivates me on a daily basis.
I spend some money on computer upgrades, but mainly I am addicted to learning: Last year I started studying Macroeconomics and Macro Financial Market movements. I I love listening to Youtube videos from financial experts and looking at stock market movements.
By now I know how to make money as an active investor, as a passive investor, and as a swing trader. In short: I learned how to make money and now I want to become an expert in multiplying my wealth through investing.
I don’t’ overtrade, but I re-invest some of my money into financial markets. I also invested in Crypto and made a lot of money through that, but I wouldn’t advise people to invest there. Crypto is going to detonate soon due to stablecoins being a scam.”
Crypto is going to detonate soon due to stablecoins being a scam
– Ryan Hogue
Is there anything you would like to close off with? Any last bits of advice for our readers?
“One of the first things I say in all my courses is: Optimize your ability to interact with your computer. If you have a slow computer, get a faster one. It’s a no brainer, because the amount of time and headache you save is infinite. And then little things like getting a second monitor, learning keyboard shortcuts…These little things can make a world of a difference over time.
I want people to know that while they may look to me for advice regarding e-commerce, my most important advice is this: Whatever you do has to make sense for you. Your decision-making process should be based on YOU.
I’ve been a computer nerd since I was 13, so it’s not a coincidence I ended up running an online business. All the thousands of hours I spent on getting better at using computers translated into me being better at running an online business.
If that’s not your thing: Don’t do it.”
Ryan Hogue’s courses overview
As mentioned in the interview Ryan Hogue offers a lot of different courses. We created an overview of the courses he offers.
|Amazon FBA||Amazon FBA Course||Learn the lessons and strategies that you need to succeed on the world’s largest e-commerce website: Amazon FBA|
|Merch by Amazon (Print on Demand)||Merch by Amazon Course||Learn how to succeed on Amazon’s popular print on demand program: Merch by Amazon.|
|Print on Demand Dropshipping||Dropshipped Print on Demand||Learn how to sell print on demand products on Etsy, E-bay, Amazon, Shopify and so on with this course containing 7 modules.|
|Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)||Kindle Direct Publishing||Learn how to sell low content books on Amazon.|
|Investing||Investing 101 Course||Controlling your financial investments is easier than you think… Ryan shows you step-by-step how to buy & sell both stocks + options. And he shares the |
method he used to multiply his wealth during the 2020 market crash.
|Redbubble (Print on Demand)||Redbubble Masterclass||This course shows you everything you need to start, streamline & scale with Redbubble. And also he shows you how to automate one of the biggest pain points of selling on Redbubble.|
|Merch Titans Automation||Merch Titans Automation||Learn how to streamline repetitive workflows in your print on demand business, letting you shift your focus to SCALING it up as big as possible.|
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