INTERVIEW: How Ryan Holmer Built A 7-figure Facebook Ads Agency By Age 26

NOTE: This interview was originally shared with email subscribers in October 2018.

We covered a lot of ground, including:

- What it's like running a location independent business and Ryan's  experience as a Canadian living in Eastern Europe

- How Ryan built a modeling agency with Ukrainian models (and why he decided to close that business)

- The lessons he's learned while building a 7 figure Facebook ads agency in only two years - by age 26! And his plan to reach $500K in monthly revenue. 

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DD:
I’m definitely going to ask you about Facebook ads and marketing, but let’s start with some background questions.

Who are you? Where are you from? What can you tell my readers who don’t you?

RYAN:
First off, I want to thank you for doing an interview with me. I love your work, so I’m glad to do this!

I’m an average 26-year old who runs an online business and travels the world. I’m pretty similar to you actually. I’m from Canada, and I lived there up until about 2 years ago.

I visit occasionally, but most of my time is spent in Europe.

What don’t people know about me? I’m an introvert by nature. I had to get used to putting my name out there.

By far the hardest thing I’ve ever done was cold calling. It took me months to get over the fear of rejection, putting myself out there, and asking strangers for money.

- -

DD:
I know you lived in Ukraine for awhile. What made you choose Ukraine?

Did you live in Kiev or Odessa or both?

And do you speak Russian and/or Ukrainian?


RYAN:
I lived in Kyiv. It’s the main city in Ukraine, so naturally I picked it as the first city to visit in Ukraine.

Eventually, after some experience with the language, I lived in a few smaller cities: Ternopil, Chernivtsi & Uzhhorod.

I initially picked Ukraine because it’s cheap... and when you’re first starting a business, you need to limit your costs. In Ukraine, I lived for $1,500 per-month...so it was an optimal situation.

And yeah I’m conversational in both Russian & Ukrainian. I know a lot of guys don’t want to learn Ukrainian, but it’s a more beautiful language than Russian - I like how it sounds.

Learning languages has always been a passion of mine, so whenever I travel I spend a lot of time learning the local language; whether it’s Polish, Croatian, or German.

- -

DD:
I saw this tweet and it’s a sentiment I’ve heard again and again: Eastern European men are “men’s men” while Western men are increasingly as you describe in the tweet below.

I even see it here in Mexico City - many of the young “chilangos” in their 20s and 30s are incredibly effeminate.

I guess that’s what a high-carb, high-sugar diet combined with an absence of gym culture does to you.

What else can you tell me about your experiences or observations when it comes to masculinity in Eastern Europe?

RYAN:
Well, here’s what I’ll say. From my observation, Western men are becoming effeminate - we all know this.

They dress like homeless people, eat way too much soy, care way too much about what spices are in their coffee, and they play way too many video games.

In saying that, the younger generation in Eastern Europe is also becoming exceptionally effeminate.

They’re being heavily influenced by Western culture - particularly Scandinavian & German culture.

A lot of the younger Eastern European men act like women. You can disagree with me on this, but it’s 100% true. They wear skin-tight jeans, shave their chests (don’t ask me how I know this), and are starting to embrace Veganism.

I’ve met numerous Ukrainian women who have been to the West, and say that they prefer Western men for their masculinity (which is interesting).

The older generation, despite their flaws, is still very masculine.

- -

DD:
One of the other things that interests me when it comes to Eastern Europe and Ukraine is the emphasis on a “traditional” lifestyle.

Can you talk a little more about this tweet (below)?

BTW - I know you’re in Canada right now, so I’m wondering if you have any desire to settle down in Ukraine long-term.

RYAN:
The nuclear family still exists in Eastern Europe.

Sure, you do meet a lot of women that don’t have a strong family unit - usually the dad cheated on the mom, so the family split…

...but the large majority are very close with their family; and they grew up with traditional values (i.e find a good man, treat him right).

The focus in the past has been less on careerism, and more on finding a good man, having a family and being a good wife.

This is slowly shifting, as I’ve met a lot of careerists in the past year or so.

But in general, Ukraine has remained fairly traditional, especially in the smaller 2nd & 3rd tier cities throughout the western parts of Ukraine.

As much as I love Ukraine, I’d never settle down there long-term. It’s unstable. There is a lot of political turmoil, the bureaucracy is insane (I’ve witnessed my girlfriend opening a bank account, and the process to do that is very arduous).

Coupled with the poor education system, a corrupt government, and the encroachment of Russia on the east...Ukraine isn’t a desirable place to raise a family right now...maybe one day though!

DD:
You ran a modeling agency in Ukraine which immediately tells me you’re one of the coolest people I know. 

Where did this idea come from? 

How does somebody go about starting a modeling business?

Did it make good money?

And what are the logistics of running a modeling agency from day to day?

You wrote a thread on it (
here it is), but can you expand a little bit for my readers?

RYAN: 
Haha, it was a lot of fun!

I have a friend (Steven) who runs a photography business. He works with modeling agencies around the world. 

We happened to be in Kyiv at the same time. We wanted to find a way to get paid, and meet women - and let’s be honest, what single guy doesn’t want that?

So we combined both of our skills (paid traffic & photography), and we came up with a modeling agency. 

If you want to start one, it’s actually relatively simple. 

You need:

- A photographer (a friend, or you could partner with a local photographer)
- A Facebook account (to run ads)
- An Instagram/Website (to post your portfolio) 

The easiest part is finding models. We were in Ukraine. I spent a few bucks on Facebook & Instagram ads announcing we were looking for models, and we got 100s of applications. 

The hardest part, if you’ve never done it before, is finding jobs for your models. 

But it’s very easy to launch a Facebook ad offering your modeling agency services. Conversely, you can go door-to-door with your portfolio, and approach businesses face to face. 

If you don’t have the balls to do this, stick to Facebook ads, Instagram, or cold-emailing. 

We made decent money, but to be honest we didn’t do this for money. As I mentioned on Twitter, our agency grew faster than we wanted it to. 

My friend does some fantastic work with the camera, so a lot of businesses wanted to hire our agency. We eventually closed the agency, because it was taking too much time away from our core businesses. 

Looking back, we should have just scaled back a bit, and kept running it…

...but I started dating a girl from Kyiv more seriously, so I didn’t want to be in the “modeling agency game” anymore, so to speak. 

The logistics of running a modeling agency aren’t too complex either - your job is to book work for your models, ensure that they arrive on time, perform their work, and collect payment. 

We usually had to be there physically, which is why we couldn’t handle our business scaling so fast. It was too much, but it was fun while it lasted. 

DD:
As far as I know, you haven’t been active on Twitter very long. 

What made you decide to get on Twitter and start building an audience? 


RYAN:
Twitter is part of my organic strategy for my personal brand. 

I initially wanted to start a YouTube channel first, but I’ve decided to hold off on that until I get back to Europe (end of September). 

So I decided to start with Twitter, which is funny because I’ve always been Anti-Twitter.

DD:
I love the idea of “Whiskey AMAs” and I may have to “borrow” this idea to start doing “Mezcal AMA’s” myself.

What’s your go-to whiskey?


RYAN:
Absolutely!

It’s a great way to wind down after a long day. Have some whiskey, answer some questions.

As for my go-to whiskey, I like Redbreast. It’s a 21 year old Irish whiskey which costs about $250 (it lasts me a while).

DD:
Let’s talk about Facebook ads and your agency.

What got you interested in Facebook ads?

What made you pursue the agency model vs. just
freelancing?

RYAN:
I’m a fan of making money.

Facebook ads was just a means to achieve that.

I initially got started with dropshipping selling women’s bikinis.

I made $100,000 selling stupid Chinese bikinis, before selling my store. If you’re interested in seeing my old store, check it out (www.boldsummer.com).

I tried to freelance at first, but I hated trading my time for money.

So I partnered with my friend Ben, and we decided to start an agency.

It’s really that simple. At the time, we had never ran one before, so there wasn’t much thought put into it.

DD:
One of my favorite threads of yours is “How to Make $25,000 A Month As A Marketing Consultant”

But we both know a lot of people will read it and take zero action.

Why do you think some people stay at the $5K, $10K or even $15K level and have trouble getting up to $25,000?


RYAN:
Fear.

A lot of people are scared of making money. They’re scared of scaling, because they aren’t confident in their ability to either manage that many clients, or hire a team & outsource.

That’s my opinion.

If they’re making $5,000 a month, they clearly have the skills to scale. So the only thing I can think of is that they’re afraid of scaling.

That, or they don’t want anymore money. Crazy, huh?

- -

DD:
How big is your team?

My big apprehension with the agency model is having to manage people.

So do you have a cap on how big you want your agency to get in terms of employees?


RYAN:
3.

3 Ukrainians.

Our offer is pretty straightforward. Once we actually launch the ads for our clients, there isn’t much work to be done, because each of our clients services such a small area (usually one city).

Clearly if we want to get to $500,000 a month, we’re going to need to expand our team. That’s a lot of onboarding.

But to be honest, I use to have the same fear as you.

I always hated the idea of managing people. But if you hire the right people, train them properly, and create a culture that fosters openness, creativity & feedback, people kind of manage themselves.

That’s been my experience anyways.

DD:
Let’s keep talking about how to grow a business. I know you’ve done a shitload of cold calls (I used to do ~200 a day as a Mortgage Broker).

It sucked, but it was also a great experience that toughened me up and got me over the fears of rejection and sales and calling strangers.

Most people struggle with getting clients and don’t fully grasp the effort you need to put in.

What else can you add?

RYAN:
Cold calling is a bitch.

I used to dread going into work, because I knew that I’d have to call hundreds of people, and try to sell them financial services... but you get used to it.

The biggest shift I think people need to make in terms of business growth, is that if you know your market well, everything else falls into place.

When cold calling, we have an offer. That offer is crafted after hours of research into our markets needs, desires and wants.

That’s why cold calling is so effective. It is a numbers game, but the reason why so many people use cold calling, is because it presents an offer that resonates with a specific market.

Most people don’t do a lot of market research. They create an offer, then find a market for that offer. This is backwards.

The best way to grow a business, bar-none, is to find a market, then create a solution that services that market.

Take my business, for example.

We were looking for markets that didn’t know how to market online. We found Financial Advisors.

We then spent hours calling advisors, asking them questions, trying to discover their paint points, their daily struggles, so that we knew them inside-out.

We took this information and created a kick-ass offer.

If you have an offer that people resonate with, and the work ethic needed to present your offer to people within your market, the rest will fall in place.

- -

DD:
I’m going to steal a couple questions from the interview you did with Kyle Trouble since I think they’re very good.

What are the Top 3 mistakes people make with Facebook ads?


RYAN:
Most people learn how to advertise on Facebook from ex-dropshippers, turned ‘gurus’. So they do the following 3 things:

1) Flex-targeting
2) Emphasis on targeting
3) They edit the budget of ad sets to scale


These are 3 big advertising sins which may yield you short-term success, but you’ll need to adjust your ads every week because you’re not working with the algorithm; you’re working against it.

- -

DD:
Also, what are your Top 3 tips for advanced Facebook ad marketers?


RYAN:
When scaling, duplicate the ad set and keep the duplicated ad set budget lower than the initial ad set. We don’t want our ad sets to cannibalize each other, so we keep our duplicated ad sets lower.

This is the best way (without using custom audiences & LLAs), to scale horizontally.

For each audience that you intend to launch ads to, create 4 ad angles for that audience. I learned this years ago from Frank Kern, and I’ve slowly expanded on it. It works beautifully.

Facebook needs variation, so the idea is to give Facebook multiple ad angles to work with, within each audience. I.E if you want to target 5 audiences, you’d theoretically have 20 ad sets.

Don’t create an LLA until you have 500 conversion event triggers.

Most goo-roos will tell you to wait until 100, but this is nonsense - you’re just wasting money.

With 500, Facebook has enough data to create an accurate picture of our ideal client, and run optimized ads to that audience.

Anything less, and you’re shooting in the dark.

- -

DD:
The 1st time we talked on Twitter it was about finding good Virtual Assistants.

I’d still like to find someone who can help distribute my content to my blog and other platforms.

Anyway, I thought this tweet of yours sounded like a smart idea.

How has that worked out for you? And have you compared Ukrainian VAs to Filipino VAs?

I never would’ve thought of using Facebook ads to find a VA.

RYAN:
I have worked with both Filipino VAs & Ukrainian VAs... and I prefer to work with Ukrainians.

Based on my experience, they learn quicker, they’re more reliable and they’re very tech savvy.

One of my Ukrainian staff learned how to create beautiful funnels using ClickFunnels within a week.

I think Ukrainians are also some of the best programmers in the world, so naturally I lean towards them when it comes to anything tech-related.

Additionally, I’ve been to Ukraine.

I’ve met my staff. I know what Ukrainian culture is like.

I’ve never been to the Philippines.

I know they have some great VAs, but I’ve only had bad experiences, so I’m going to stick with what I know.

As for the reason I hire via Facebook, it’s simple.

I don’t like using job boards. These people usually spam 100 jobs a day, then do half-assed work.

I just feel like hiring through Facebook, and doing my own application process is more legitimate.

I’ve tried every service out there, and in my experience, hiring via a paid ad on Facebook has worked beautifully.

DD:
You’ve set an ambitious goal to hit $500,000 in monthly revenue by December 2018.

Can you tell me a little about your plan to hit this goal?

Also, I know some guys reading this haven’t even made $1,000 online so the idea of making $500,000 is too big to even wrap their heads around.

What can you say to guys who are intimidated about “big” numbers?

RYAN:
Yeah, it’s a big goal, but we’re excited about it.

Our plan to hit this goal is pretty straightforward.

We’re going to launch a webinar funnel. We’ve ran a webinar funnel before, but we haven’t launched ads for a few weeks as we’ve been working on a new, sexy webinar.

The reason we love webinars so much, is because they work good.

The best time to close clients online, is to provide something of value first, before asking for the sale, or presenting your offer.

A webinar allows you to provide valuable content which resonates with your market, before closing them at the end of the presentation, or follow-up with them via email automation.

It’s a very simple, automated system that combines:

- Paid traffic
- Value
- Email follow-up


Regarding fear of big numbers...

If you haven’t made $1,000 online yet and you’re intimidated by big numbers, here’s my advice.

Don’t create monetary goals.

So don’t say “I want to earn $100,000 per-month in one year.”


That could be a bit intimidating.

Instead, say:

“At the end of the year, I want to sign 30 clients. This means, I need to sign 3 clients per month”

If signing 3 clients per month is still intimidating to you, then I can’t help you!

But 3 clients per month is VERY doable.

- -

DD:
Your niche is Financial Advisors and the other day you talked about Realtors as another niche ripe with opportunity for service providers.

What other niches do you think have potential?


RYAN:
When picking a niche, you want to look at a few things.

- The niche can afford your services
- The niche has a noticeable problem
- The niche is far from the truth
(i.e they’re not marketing the way they should be).

We picked Financial Advisors because they’re still cold-calling, waiting around for referrals, hosting seminars... and they don’t advertise online.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few other potentially profitable niches…

- Insurance agents
- Contractors
- Roofers
- Accountants

DD:
I’d like to hear your thoughts on
dropshipping as a good short or maybe long-term business model.

I don’t think it’ll make you rich, but it seems like a good business model to build an extra income stream of maybe $2,000 - $10,000 in only a few hours a week.

Am I wrong?


RYAN:
Despite my criticism of dropshipping, it’s a great way to get started and build some side cash.

It will help you learn the fundamentals of advertising; copywriting, email marketing, paid-traffic, and the fundamentals of running a business; managing staff, fulfillment, customer service etc…

I’m actually in the process of helping my girlfriend set up a dropshipping store, so she has something to do, and I want her to learn how to advertise online, as I think it’s a must-have skill.

- -

DD:
Let’s wrap up: What’s your advice to someone reading this right now who’s interested in offering Facebook ads to clients and maybe even starting an agency?

I’m sure fear and personal doubts are holding them back.


RYAN:
Expertise is relative.

I would say 9/10 people are afraid to get started because they’re worried about not being an expert at Facebook advertising, or whatever they’re offering.

To a dentist who has never launched an ad before, you are an expert.

When I got started, I wasn’t even remotely close to being an expert... but compared to a Financial Advisor, I was a god damn wizard.

The best advice I can ever give is this…

Spend A LOT of time researching your market. Find out their inner desires, what keeps them up at night, then create an offer that solves this.

Millions of dollars can be made by simply knowing what your market really wants. Unfortunately, the average Joe doesn’t spend the time researching their market.

But you’re not an average Joe, are you?

---

Interested in how Ryan's able to charge top dollar ($15K and up) by running Facebook ads for his clients? 

Then check out his course, Sales Engineering, which teaches you:

- The Facebook algorithm

- How to write persuasive Facebook ads

- How to run Facebook ads like a real business owner

... and lots more (you'll also get access to his private Facebook group)