How One Man Saved the Family Furniture Business, Then Built a Wildly Successful Online Fitness Company

Content Marketing Case Studies |

Ryan Masters has done the heavy lifting a successful content marketing strategy demands, and it has enabled him to break into one of the Internet’s toughest markets: men’s fitness.

He’s made his mark by publishing short, insanely useful workout videos and sending daily emails to his loyal subscribers. He calls his community “his Spartans,” and he’s passionate about helping them achieve their best lives.

Ryan also runs an Internet marketing consulting firm that helps businesses achieve success through Google advertising and analytics. His smart tactics and strategic Adwords management have generated over $4.2 million in revenue for his clients.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Ryan and ask him some questions about how he’s achieved his amazing success.

Turns out, he’s not just another pretty face.

What’s your business name, and what do you do?

My business is The Workout Corner, and I help men build a Spartan-like physique while increasing their strength, courage, and confidence.

Who are your readers and subscribers, and how do you serve them? Was there a pressing problem you were trying to solve with your site?

My audience is men around the globe who are interested in improving their overall levels of health and fitness in order to take better control of their lives.

One of the biggest problems with the “workout industry” is the overload and over-complication of training information. It ends up leaving honest guys confused as to what actually works, and they’re stuck spinning their wheels and getting frustrated from all the baloney out there.

I teach the simple Spartan approach to training: fast, effective, and purpose-driven.

As a busy guy — I own two businesses — I want to share with others around the world that it is possible to stay in great shape and have a normal life too.

I believe in using fitness and your business to enhance your life, not run it.

What kinds of content do you create to help you market your business?

I have two main sources of content: videos on my YouTube channel and an email marketing campaign that consists of daily emails to my list.

Yup, I email my guys every weekday. I tell them up front so they expect it, and I get very few SPAM or unsubscribe complaints.

Part of that comes from learning how to write e-mails in a fun, entertaining way — just like a TV show or talk show. When I first started doing it, they were probably a little rough, but I’ve been told they’re getting better. If I miss a day or two, I’ll get guys asking me where their daily email is.

I was scared to try this strategy at first because I was afraid everyone would unsubscribe, complain, and then hunt me down with pitchforks and burning torches. 

But I said to myself, “Hey, let’s try it for 30 days and see what happens. If it’s no bueno, I can stop.”

What happened? Sales more than doubled during those 30 days. So I keep emailing daily.

I also produce at least one YouTube video a week. Consistent content is important if you want to play the YouTube game. I would recommend shooting for one video a week, ideally on the same day and around the same time each week (just like a TV show).

And I always give calls to action in my videos such as subscribe, Like, “Go download this,” etc.

How do you use social networking in your business?

I don’t use a lot of social networking at the moment.

I have a Facebook page, but I focus mostly on YouTube and email. I’m a firm believer in mastering 1-2 forms of media rather than being mediocre with all of them.

What was your situation before you started this business? Were you always a business owner, or did you have a more traditional career?

I have another business, Squeeze Juice Marketing, which I started in 2008 to help clients establish a dominant web presence and acquire all the profitable clicks available to them in Google AdWords.

In 2012, I managed $371,000 across all accounts and brought in a return of $4.26 million (579%). Analytics is part of that secret sauce.

Right before I started Squeeze Juice Marketing, I built an ecommerce website from scratch to help the family furniture business, which was tanking at the time due to the economy and competition from China. All we had was $500 and Perry Marshall’s AdWords book, so it was truly sink or swim.

After five years of 12-14+ hour days, we had turned the business around and sold it. Phew!

What resources or tools did you find most helpful when you were getting started with content marketing?

If you are considering YouTube (or video marketing), Steve Stockman’s book, How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck is an absolute goldmine. 

Please do yourself a favor and read it before diving into shooting videos. It’s helped me so much.

I also took Ben Settle’s “Email Players” program and Matt Furey’s course to help me write more entertaining and engaging emails.

I use Infusionsoft to automate my content marketing and CRM, but depending on where you are in your entrepreneurial journey it may not be a good fit.

Before jumping to Infusionsoft, I used AWeber. Thanks to Jack Born’s AWPROTools, you can get Infusionsoft-like benefits such list segmentation (which is very important) out of AWeber. So I’d start there first, then jump to Infusionsoft when your business is ready for it.

I use WordPress for my blogging and website platform.

What were some of the main tipping points or “a-ha!” moments when you were building the business? How did they come about?

It may sound silly, but reaching out and establishing relationships with other like-minded content creators has been invaluable. I think it’s easy to get trapped in our own little bubble and get way too comfortable behind the computer screen.

Coming up for air by sharing ideas and conversation with others can really help recharge you and take your business in directions you would not have figured out on your own.

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned in your business so far?

For The Workout Corner, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is this: don’t be a cheese pizza.

Cheese is plain and boring. Sure, everyone likes it, but no one loves it. You need readers to love you. In order to do that, you’re gonna need some haters. Meat Lover’s Pizza has lovers and haters. So does veggie pizza.

The more emotionally charged your content, and the more you take a stand, the bigger following you’ll attract.

Of course, you don’t have to purposely try to make people mad or anything like that. Just be yourself and don’t hold back when you write and produce content.

Be fearless.

But whatever you do, do not attach your personal worth or value to your content or the responses you get to it. There is zero correlation.

And remember, everyone commenting on the Internet considers himself an “expert.” :-)

What were your biggest mistakes, or biggest wastes of time/money?

I took far too long to create products, and I also created products nobody wanted but that I would have sworn they needed.

It’s a double whammy because you invest all that time … but then no one buys. So you feel really frustrated and upset, and it’s easy to feel personally rejected. But it’s simply the market telling you to try a different approach!

I also found that trying to make anything perfect –- be it a video, email, image, etc. — is a huge waste of time. 80 percent of perfect is often good enough, and you can always go back to update or upgrade it later.

Get it done first, then make it right.

What does your business look like today?

I’m very, very thankful. Right now, The Workout Corner has over 4 million views and 39,000+ subscribers on YouTube. I have a large email following, and there are many more rising Spartans in training.

In my niche, those numbers are actually small potatoes. But I feel it’s all about taking it one day at a time and being appreciative for what you have.

What’s next for you?

I made the cheese pizza mistake, so I’m currently working on the content antidote with Spartan training. I am really excited for what’s coming next. The early feedback has been very positive.

Why do you think you became an online business owner, when most people just stick with the career they have (even if it’s unsatisfying)? What’s different about you?

I believe in designing and using your business(es) to enhance your life.

I think too many people get too attached to one specific business, when sometimes the best solution is to let go and head in a new direction. Watching Shark Tank gives you plenty of examples of this.

I wanted the freedom to travel, so that was a big motivator for me when I ventured into the online business world. I love the journey of personal growth and discovery that we all go through as business owners. The never-ending learning, the inevitable frustrations, the successes — I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

I think many people stick with a career that is unsatisfying because they’re (understandably) afraid. Will I be able to provide for myself and my family? What will my friends and loved ones think? What if I totally, utterly, and completely fail in front of everyone?

These are serious and legitimate concerns. But for things to change, you have to change.

Whether that means moving to a new career, finally launching your own business on the side, or something entirely different … you are the leverage point.

Not the economy, not the job, not the timing — YOU.

What advice would you give to website owners and entrepreneurs who are trying to build an online audience?


Get your content out there. Don’t try to make it perfect, just get it out.

Create a schedule and stick to it. Your audience will let you know what resonates with them, so you can adjust as you go.

Think of it like a bicycle … if you’re not moving, you’re falling over.


Write the way you talk. Write about what generates strong feelings for you. That will shine through and attract people.

View everything you produce as part of the process instead of thinking of each piece as an event. The process is this: you becoming a better content producer. That’s what you’re going through.


It’s scary putting stuff out there. Remember that your personal worth and value are in no way tied to your content or the reaction to it.

Not to get too morbid, but this is what helped me get over my fears for being on YouTube: in 500 years, we’ll all be gone; in 5,000 years, we’ll all be long gone; and in 50,000 years, there will be virtually no trace … so in the grand scheme of things, what does it matter if somebody rips on you or your content, if you make a mistake or do it all wrong?

As I tell my Spartans … Never Retreat & Never Surrender!

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Reader Comments (35)

  1. says

    Wow, just what the doctor ordered. I’m putting together a niche product and website for speakers and presenters, and the story and path above are like gold to me. Building a profitable platform is complicated at best and the conventional wisdom is all over the place as to what works and what doesn’t. Here you have provided a path, that not only shows the good, but also shows what to watch out for. Two BIG pieces of advice spring out of the story. The first is that you have to write boldly. If some people don’t hate what you write, others aren’t going to love it. You have to write smart and with a passion. The other is that you need to focus on one or two mediums and leave the rest out. Be bold, not mediocre. Never retreat…. Never Surrender!

    • says

      Thank you for the feedback John. I like how you coined that… ‘write boldly’, so true!.

      Best of luck with your upcoming product launch.


      PS – Your website looks great, nice and clean.

  2. says

    Thanks for this interview.

    I agree that getting out of the house and meeting people in the same niche or market is very important to expand your business – or even simply to keep it alive.

    Nowadays, it’s more and more important to have a human face behind the words, behind the videos so that a lasting connection can be made.


    • says

      Thanks for the feedback Dan. I would also throw out its good to mix in people WAY OUT of your niche too. Just to help keep your idea catcher open at full spread.

  3. says

    Excellent interview. There are some real nuggets in there like the bicycle analogy (for taking action) and embracing the fear. You have to take action on the things you fear most – it’s like shining a light on the darkness.
    Thank you Beth and Ryan for sharing.

  4. says

    Wisdom from the trenches – worth gold. Thanks for bringing us this interview!

    Fantastic questions, glorious answers & advice. I took more notes than the interview is long – “fitness and business should enhance your life, not run it” among them.

    Ryan is a master communicator. I guess it’s clear to everyone after this interview: even born Masters pay with an average five years of 12-14+ hour days to make it to mastery … :-]]]

    • says

      Hahaha ‘even born Masters pay’… love that Beat!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the interview and thank you for the generous feedback, much appreciated.

  5. says

    YouTube is a social networking tool, though, especially now Google have launched a new commenting section. It links up directly with Google+ so when you comment you can link in friends, and post to your wall. All very interesting and a good new business practice. It should also rid a YouTube of the endlessly tedious Flame Wars which have raged mindlessly over the last 8 years or so.

  6. says

    Very motivational, just the right tonic I need to keep on moving. On the social media area, I think I’d rather follow this guy and be active on just two or three social networks instead of just swarming all around the place.

    • says

      Thank you for the feedback!

      Yes, forwarrrrrd!

      In addition to helping your own biz grow, this approach will help you master the mediums more quickly, which you can then turn around and sell that expertise as well. Jackpot!

  7. says

    I like this and agree that producing YouTube videos should be just like making a television show. Consistent timing, brief and useful content and the proper setup are all crucial for success.

    • says

      Thanks Malinda!

      Absolutely… model from whats working right? We’ve got some great examples in TV / Hollywood, they’ve been at this for years.

      If you’re looking to break into YouTube think about what show(s) / movie(s) you like and why. What can you swipe from them?

  8. says

    Great post! I like how you said you focus on 1-2 marketing tactics at one time. I honestly agree with that stance! Focusing on every single marketing method for blogging is not only time consuming to say the least but its also overwhelming and could cause some serious blogger’s burnout. Thanks for sharing this post, it was a great read! :)

    • says

      Thank you for the feedback Shawn!

      Exactly, trying to talk about everything means the audience hears nothing. And like you said is a great way to burn yourself out in a cinch

  9. says

    This is truly inspiring, especially to me, whose in the middle of developing a content marketing strategy for our creative agency. I love the idea of focusing on 1-2 areas that are successfully and maintaining your quality there. Excellent stuff!

  10. says

    Hold up, yo…

    I love cheese pizza. I mean, love it. I’d rather eat a slice (or 8) or NY style pizza over anything else in the entire world. And I’d do it day in and day out for a meal a day for the remainder of my life.


    Anyway, I’ve read Ben Settle’s stuff, and it is pretty good. I have a few of his books too. Haven’t jumped on the Email Players wagon yet, but he entices me with his own daily emails that he sends out. I’d recommend a look at him.

    • says

      Haha I love cheese pizza too!

      As kid on family pizza nights thats all I ever wanted my Mom to make. Yummm.

      Yea I suggest making the leap and trying it out… at least for a month or two. Then you can confidently tell yourself it works / doesn’t because you DID IT.

  11. says

    I know Ryan – he’s the real deal. One of the best-read marketers I know, and deeply committed to direct response principles.

    I even did his Spartan Rises Training program and it was very easy and effective. My weighted dips got *way* stronger!

    Whether you’re looking for marketing direction or a more imposing physique, Ryan’s a great guy to follow.

    Thanks to everyone for this interview!

    • says

      Thank you Daryl.

      Absolutely… in the internet age it’s too easy to stay glued to our computers.

      I only know this because I am the #1 offender

      Thanks for stopping by!

  12. says

    I checked out the website/business.. very cool! The marketing is great, I can definitely see why this is such a success. You even have the red Spartan cape in the intro video!

  13. says

    Excellent advice for those of us who are just gaining new entry into online marketing. I like the advice on putting something out there – just dive in and do it. So often, we get blog writer’s block spending time trying to think of the perfect subject to write about, when in fact, we can select any aspect of one subject or thought and generate and entire blog post.

    Another good point was limiting the social media accounts. On the onset, focus on 1-2 social media outlets. Initially, it may not be possible to effectively manage and grow brand awareness on all social media platforms.

    Thank you for the information.

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