EP 103 Influence Marketing; Expert Secrets to Fast, Inexpensive Growth. Feat: James Swanwick

We’ve been looking forward to this week’s guest for some time. Khierstyn joined James on a panel listening to Amazon sellers. She listened to how he was able to grow organically through influence marketing. Brands can fast-track by doing paid advertising, however, influence marketing is long term.

Many business owners and entrepreneurs don’t understand how to leverage influencer marketing. Therefore, James is the perfect podcast guest. He’s going to help us better understand his journey, and in turn, yours.


[03:38] Who is James Swanwick?

James didn’t take the shortest path to success, but certainly a colorful one. He worked in Brisbane Australia,  where he started as a newspaper reporter before moving to the US. James tells us that he tried to start PR company in 2008 during the financial Armageddon. In fact, he had to shut down in 6 months. James ran to South America to lick his wounds for 6 months before returning for round 2.

This time, James started learning about biz and online marketing. Like many, he recants that he struggled for a few years. He didn’t’ make much money and that was hard for him. It drove him to get a business mentor, which was his turning point for success.

A couple years ago, he was introduced to the idea of no blue lights at bedtime. He heard that blue light could inhibit production of melatonin. James sought a solution. He knew a friend who had a pair, but they were really ugly, which lead him to develop the stylish Swannies. Now he’s had over 1 million dollars sales in 11 months all grown organically (no paid ads).


[06:20] Riding the Mainstream Curve

When the idea for Swannies first came about, it was ahead of the now mainstream blue light glasses curve. James shares that when he got into the vertical, he was able to catch the wave. Catching the wave means to jump on an idea, not when it’s mainstream, but right before. At a time when people were starting to pay attention and eager to become more educated on the subject. The danger is that, at any time, a bigger company can come along (think a huge sunglasses brand) and come in and crush.

For instance, there was Friendster a before there was Myspace. That was before Facebook eventually took over. You don’t want to be a Friendster. James shares, “We might be a Friendster, there’s always that danger, but I think it was a good thing to start when we did.”

With Swannies, they utilized a different angle. The company is not Swannies Sunglasses it’s Swanwick Sleep. They aren’t just glasses, they are a sleep company selling glasses. That differentiation makes an impact. They may not be able to compete against the large glasses companies but they can compete as a sleep company. It allows them to sell glasses as an additional product to support the overall goal. It’s a niche of its own.


[12:43] To Niche or Not to Niche?

James laughed with us, he wanted to tell us that he knocked it out of the park first thing, but that’s not reality.

There’s a lot of stuff James threw at the wall to see what would stick and it was the bio hacking community that got behind the product. Once he saw that, he doubled down on that community to be the biggest proponents, the cheerleaders, to help spread the message to a larger audience. Free marketing so to speak.

Biohackers are so particular about their health. James stresses that if you get them behind you, they are going to tell their mothers, their friends, anyone who will listen, how great the product is. That’s the real power of influencer marketing and niches – you don’t have to spend money on advertising.


[20:08] Top 3 Ways James Boosted Swannies’ Revenue


Khierstyn asked James what the biggest proponents to boosting initial revenue were. Here’s what he came back with.



When Swannies first launched, they were only on Amazon; No website or online presence. James knew reviews were important to managing the visibility metrics. He did everything he could think of to generate reviews. He tried giving some away for honest reviews. He asked friends, family, anyone, he could think of, to share their feelings online. He was persistent -. Stayed on top of them, pestered them, because getting the reviews were paramount.


Associating with Influencer:

James says he made an effort to ensure that he was associating with influencers already paving the way in his vertical. He connected with Dave Asprey, founder of BulletProof, because he knew that Dave’s audience of bio-hackers would love the glasses. James sent Dave a message and offered to help educate listeners about dangers of blue light. James gave him benefits for his viewers, for his audience, in his field of interest. Dave responded by text and was all over it.

It wasn’t without work though. James waited 2-3 months for the interview. He ended up scheduling the interview while in midtown, at a conference. They managed it though, Dave interviewed James over Skype in this hotel room. 2 months after that, Dave published the episode on YouTube. [Watch it here]

Sales quadrupled overnight. Within 3 days, Swannies they went from selling 15 pairs a day to 50 or 60 pairs a day. This truly opened James eyes to the benefit of being on a show with influencers in the right market. James reached out to other podcasts, got interviews, and continues to do so now.


The Selfie Ask:

James tells us that he would ask customers to take selfie photos of themselves using the product. He asked that they send them and post/tag on Instagram. It’s the ultimate marketing tool because customers would wear and share and talk, and it grew. That’s free marketing.


[26:47] Influence Marketing When you Don’t Have a Product

Don’t have a physical product to give away? That’s OKAY! Do as many videos as you can. Cool, fun, demo videos and get influencers to use the product. If you only have one prototype, have them use it and then return it, the point is to capture the experience visually.

Show people, not tell. People are well known to need to see before believing, so make videos and give them something to believe in. If they can’t touch, at least let them see.


[29:26] Hot or Cold – James’ talks Media

James shares that he did both warm and cold connections, but NEVER cold pitches. He had folks like Dave Asprey who he was friends and felt comfortable with. He showed anyone who had a podcast or platform using existing relationships to build conversations. He always talked about their benefit and made it about their listeners.

There were times when James tells us he had to reach out to cold media contacts. His strategy was to talk about their interest. No mass emails though. He made sure to research first and made the pitch about them, their work, and how he could support their growth.

From his experience, cold, impersonalized pitches didn’t work. He made sure to tell us that he throws them out all the time. James recommends that you Google the media person you’re pitching to. Read the last three articles they published and then connect your pitch to them. Craft the pitch around their interests and why they should be interested.


[34:00] Growing Pains

Like any other business owner, James has dealt with his fair share of challenges. For Swannies, it’s growing pains.

“The first few months, everything is moving up, growing and expanding. Then, you get to 1 million and you realize you don’t have systems and process in place.” James had to hire because, all of a sudden, he was managing people. He had to work with staff, customers, and more. They’ve experience plateaus, inventory shortages, as well as a host of other complications.

There are all these little things that, in the beginning, you’re not worried about because you’re trying new things. If you don’t have systems, and things like KPIs for staff, you end up putting out fires.

As the CEO, James feels what he did poorly was not prioritize processes and systems enough. Swannies had to slow down, put out fires, add systems and processes, to pick up and start moving forward again.


[42:13] The Future Starts Now

Where is James headed? He shares that he has 2 distinct visions in the coming years.

Swanwick Sleep he intends to grow to a 100 million dollar business while on track to selling. He’d like to see it grow to be something big and the sell and walk away with a great payout.

James shares that with his 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge business, he wants to grow forever, so that it can be his perpetual income machine. It’s the lifeblood, something that will always support him.

Episode Outline

Introduction: Influence Marketing; Expert Secrets to Fast, Inexpensive Growth

[03:38] Who is James Swanwick?

[06:20] Riding the Mainstream Curve

[12:43] To Niche or Not to Niche?

[20:08] Top 3 Ways James Boosted Swannies’ Revenue

[25:40] Backetkit

[26:47] Influence Marketing When you Don’t Have a Product

[29:26] Hot or Cold – James’ talks Media

[34:00] Growing Pains

[42:13] The Future Starts Now


Resources and Sponsor

James Swanwick

James’ Inner Circle

30 Day No Alcohol Challenge

Swanwick Sleep

James Swanwick on iTunes


Follow James on:






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