From Chasing Dollars to Chasing Freedom with Francis Ablola

, , , ,

The changing tides of this digital landscape can leave even seasoned marketers navigating uncharted waters. But worry not, for in this enlightening episode, Igor is joined by a true marketing maestro, Francis Ablola, the CEO of REAL Advisors, LLC. Together, they dive deep into the evolving world of online marketing and share invaluable insights on how to thrive amidst its dynamic shifts. Tune in as Igor and his guest, Francis Ablola, embark on a journey through the ever-changing landscape of online marketing.

Guest: Francis Ablola is a marketing strategist and the Chief Executive Officer of REAL Advisors, LLC since 2021. He has helped companies rapidly accelerate growth through direct response advertising – including taking REAL Advisors to #80 on the 2020 Inc 500 list of fast-growing private companies in America.

[00:00] In this episode, Igor is joined by Francis Ablola to discuss the changing landscape of online marketing.

[0:55] DVD SEO Success and Setbacks:

  • I had a gentleman reach out to me who became a millionaire by mastering search engine optimization for DVDs. He was involved in selling both DVD players and DVDs of popular movies.
  • This venture brought him substantial wealth. However, a sudden shift in Google’s algorithms caused his websites to plummet in search rankings. Consequently, his successful system ceased to function.
  • This was a stark lesson for me. It made me realize that building a business solely reliant on search engine traffic might be risky, as it could drastically change overnight. I found this situation unsettling.

[01:34] Navigating the Challenge of Difficult Clients:

  • He expressed his interest in working with me on a one-on-one basis. At that time, I didn’t have many individual clients, so the prospect was exciting. Someone was willing to invest their money in me.
  • I felt a surge of enthusiasm about the opportunity. I quoted a retainer fee of $1,000 per hour and held my breath, hoping he would agree.
  • To my surprise, he agreed without hesitation. This client engaged me for four hours, and within the first 20 minutes of our initial hour together, I realized the challenge I had taken on.
  • He proved to be a difficult client, refusing to heed my advice and constantly questioning my suggestions. It was a frustrating coaching experience, as it seemed he was more interested in proving me wrong than following my guidance.
  • I learned a valuable lesson that day: while you can make a substantial amount of money with a single client, it may not always be smooth sailing. Sometimes, a higher payment can come with more annoyance, difficulty, and hard work than expected. 

[03:20] Evolution from Desperation to Selectivity:

  • Discovering the ability to decline a $1,000 opportunity has been a liberating and rewarding experience. This newfound freedom allows me to choose projects that align better with my values and preferences.
  • Looking back, I recall my early days in online marketing. I spent the initial six years dabbling with little progress.
  • Starting out at 19, I’m now 40. During those first few years, I invested in various coaching programs out of desperation. The pressure of learning marketing, particularly Google AdWords, led me to seek any opportunity.
  • I hustled tirelessly during that period. Over time, I transitioned from doing whatever I could to being more selective about my clients. Success started coming my way, and I realized that I no longer needed to chase every dollar.

[05:06] Prioritizing Time Freedom and Contentment:

  • Having a family and a business to manage, I now value my time more than pursuing every lucrative opportunity. Despite the potential for substantial income, I’ve declined projects worth $5,000, $10,000, and even $20,000 if they don’t resonate with my goals.
  • This sense of financial freedom holds greater significance to me than just accumulating money in my bank account. I’ve enjoyed the luxuries of beachfront homes, Jaguars, and more, but as I’ve evolved, I’ve realized that my priorities have shifted.
  • I’ve come to understand that I yearn for time freedom, quality moments with my family, and the ability to live life on my terms. This realization has brought me true contentment.

[11:35] Pandemic Disruption and Self-Discovery:

  • Reflecting on my journey, I find that the true value lies not in the dollars earned, but in the ability to choose how I spend my time. This sense of autonomy is far more rewarding than mere financial gains.
  • This lesson was reinforced when the business I had built over the years came crashing down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a seminar company, our operations were severely impacted overnight.
  • This experience prompted me to reevaluate my path and prioritize my dreams over others’. In times of crisis, we confront our true desires and embark on a journey of self-discovery. I’ve realized that understanding what you genuinely want is key.

[12:25] Thriving in Marketing’s Dynamic Environment:

  • Engaging in this field of marketing, we must acknowledge that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Just as the DVD SEO expert met his challenges, I’ve encountered my own.
  • The online marketing landscape constantly evolves, whether it’s due to algorithm changes or global events.
  • To thrive in this environment, adaptability is crucial. As for AI, its role is continually expanding. 

[14:43] AI’s Influence and the Power of Relationships:

  • While AI tools are powerful, they’re only as effective as those wielding them. This remains true until we face the dystopian future of AI takeover depicted in movies.
  • AI’s impact is ever-changing. What’s groundbreaking today could be commonplace tomorrow. AI tools like Jasper were prominent, and then seemingly vanished as new solutions emerged.
  • AI’s influence on marketing, copywriting, and other facets is undeniable. However, predicting its exact trajectory is challenging. As marketers, we must not only stay current with AI trends but also cultivate our unique skill sets.
  • AI’s evolving landscape emphasizes the importance of maintaining connections. Networking and relationship-building are paramount. 

[27:00] The Holistic Entrepreneurial Journey:

  • Creating genuine, lasting relationships transcends transactional interactions. It’s a skill that pays off over time, often in ways we don’t expect.
  • In our relatively small online marketing sphere, many deals are struck based on mutual respect and trust, rather than just financial calculations.

[31:36] Handling Challenges and Experience:

  • Real Advisors, my primary education company, managed to achieve a million in our debut year, but our Merchant Accounts abruptly shut down operations. Right as we hit the $1.2 million cash collection mark.
  • Yet, the lesson was clear – having multiple merchant accounts is crucial. This has actually happened to us multiple times since then, but I remain unfazed due to my knowledge of whom to approach and what dialogues to engage in. Such expertise is born from experience.
  • I’m fortunate that I’ve collaborated with large enterprises and witnessed even major companies endure substantial setbacks. My experiences range from encounters with three-letter agencies to observing the repercussions from an external viewpoint.
  • This has taught me the importance of refunding customers when approached a certain way and managing interactions carefully to avert any negative repercussions. Compliance, phone conversations, and webinar presentations – all require meticulous attention.
  • Particularly, as you gain prominence, like hitting the $10 million per year mark, inviting increased scrutiny. These realizations stem from experience, and I wouldn’t want to revisit such adversity.

[35:36] Power of Relationships and Masterminds:

  • The idea of independent success holds no allure for me; I’ve led the internet marketing lifestyle, and I distinctly remember my exposure to Agora’s sales letter, promising substantial income while lounging on the beach.
  • Consequently, I embarked on a journey as a freelance copywriter, owning a beachfront condo that served as my workspace. This endeavor yielded substantial six-figure earnings by working just a few hours daily, honing my skill and reputation.
  • When transitioning to scaling a business, particularly as a product owner grappling with heightened volume, relationships become invaluable. Having a network not only supports the business but also grants personal freedom by transcending roles you outgrow.
  • My aspiration evolved; I didn’t want to be confined to copywriting or media buying indefinitely. Now, I’m dedicated to constructing a framework that continually enhances my personal freedom.
  • This trajectory of learning stems from having invaluable mentors, investing in relationships, and developing versatile skill sets.
  • When faced with a challenge like a Facebook ads account shut down amid rapid growth or the disruption brought about by COVID-19, these relationships and skill sets proved instrumental in navigating adversity.
  • Looking ahead, my ventures span diverse domains – from publishing brands to education in real estate, agency growth, and even foraying back into the online marketing space with AI integration. 

[49:00] Igor’s Book On Email Marketing:



Igor Kheifets is an amazon best-selling author of the List Building Lifestyle: Confessions of an Email Millionaire.

He’s also the host of List Building Lifestyle, the podcast for anyone who wants to make more money and have more freedom by leveraging the power of an email list

He’s widely referred to as the go-to authority on building large responsive email lists in record time.

Igor’s passionate about showing people how to live the List Building Lifestyle.