Blogging: From Zero to Full-Time Business
Chris was an early adopter of computers. There’s an early adopter advantage, he says, but the disadvantage is that the people in first wave make mistakes. So it’s never too late to start, because you can learn from the early adopters’ mistakes.
Social media in the ’80s made Chris realize “I wasn’t the only geek in the world.” Social media brings people with a shared interest together.
Finding your tribe … makes you feel that you’re not on your own. … There’s moral support. When the nasty people do attack, and they do… you’ve got people to turn to to say “Do I really suck?” And they’ll say “Yeah, a little bit.”
“Pinterest completely took me by surprise.” He dismissed it as a thing for ladies and then suddenly lots of traffic was coming in via Pinterest. Moral: Don’t dimiss things out of hand.
On evolving blogs
- “One of the worst mistakes I made was changing the website URL, design and content.”
- “People started coming to me for computer programming advice. I only put those articles out there to be helpful and to stop myself from repeating myself. … The idea that I could make money from writing articles just blew me away.”
You don’t necessarily have to believe in yourself, but believe in your content. … You don’t have to be a confident person; just be confident in your content.
What job security?
- Chris’s wife went into labor 6 weeks early; he found out he was unemployed the same week.
- “There is no such thing as job security.”
I knew from that moment onwards I was never going to give my entire future over to someone else’s control.
- Pitch an editor with an interesting-enough story and you can get into print.
- “Don’t hide. Be proud of what you do and be proud of who you are. … We don’t give awards and opportunities to the anonymous.”
- Sick of computer programming, Chris slowly moved into “internet stuff.” In 2005 he went fully self-employed and then agreed to be 100% with a startup. “I thought I was going to be a millionaire because I had stock options. Ha.”
- “We were burning through cash, and we weren’t making any, and the rest is history.” Company folded in “not that nice a way.”
- Later, Darren Rowse said “I’m thinking about doing an ebook.” Wiley approached and wanted a new book. “The reason” Darren “approached me is I’m absolutely useless at direct monetization… but” could “make money because of money, not from the blog.”
- “The friends that you make are like gold dust. … Don’t dimiss anybody. … You never know what you might learn from them, and you never know how you might help them in the future. … Think about those random dudes and dudettes.”
Move the fear line
- “It’s a good thing to do stuff that scares you. … I started speaking because I couldn’t do it.”
- “What scares you most about what you’re doing? Think about it, then go do it.”
- “If you don’t push the corners of your comfort zone, your comfort zone is going to get smaller.”
Paying the mortagage is awesome, and being able to put money away for my child’s education is brilliant but …
- Meeting people
- Driving supercars
- Work isn’t linked to geography.
- Spending time with family without needing to ask permission; “now I don’t have to miss anything. Some things I’d rather miss.”
- “Once you get past paying the bills, freedom is the most important thing.”
Don’t make this mistake
Chris didn’t charge people for a long time. Once he sent word that he’d be charging, people were offended: “Go live in a box! We want free content.”
As soon as you can, let people know that you’re in business. If you’re in business, be in business.
Seek active income
- Monetize with services rather than ads.
- Move from Doing to Managing projects to Advising to Teaching to Investing
- Freelancing is a great way to make money. “There’s usually someone out there who wants to have done what you can do.”
- “Freedom and security increase as you work up that ladder.”
- When you’re monetizing with ads, you’re a referral service.
- “When you have services, you have a real business.”
- Make people as happy as possible by delivering on your promises.
Seek progress rather than perfection
- “Don’t hold off doing something because you think it won’t be perfect.”
Don’t pull all your monetizing eggs in one basket.
7 harsh truths of blogging
- Most blogs suck (stand out by not sucking)
Common sense is often not common practice. Focus on your audience and help them.
- Content doesn’t promote itself. Tell people about what you’re doing. Human beings link, share and comment.
- You’re going to have to face the money issue. Decide whether or not you’re going to make money. Are you a magazine or a service? If you’re selling ads, you’re a magazine; if you’re writing ebooks, that’s a service
- You can’t control the conversation. People are going to say nasty things. Make sure you have a place they can complain about, and make sure you have an answer.
- Search engines hate lame content, so great content should float to the top. Do the best you can; don’t phone it in. “I don’t just say, ‘It’s Monday, I have to have a post out.’ … Don’t stick to an arbitrary schedule.”
- “The content beast will never be full. … Do the best you can … never apologize for not writing.”
- The internet doesn’t care about you. They care about themselves. Make it about them.
The more interested in the audience you are, the more interesting you will be come.
What you should do
- Attract, engage and convert.
- Don’t fixate on sales or traffic. Build your audience. Talk to people.
- Only make offers when your goodwill is at an all-time high, and always have offer something useful if you’re making an offer.
- Be the best you you can be. People will connect with you or they won’t, but they’ll connect with you more strongly if you’re yourself.
- Find the sweet spot between your audience and yourself — the intersection between Audience Desires; What you know; What people will pay for; and your passions.
- Don’t drive traffic. Attracttraffic.
- Discover what people want solved, and help them solve it.
Content is the bread and butter of what you do. SEO without good content is the peanut butter out of the jar. Social is the jam on top. When they’re all together, that’s when it’s awesome.
- Make friends. Don’t try to find people to put in your network. Find ways to be nice, approachable and useful. People in your network will come and go, but your friends are the people you can rely on.
- Add people to your list. Keep them happy with content, then make offers to them.
- Have multiple sources of traffic. Every piece of content is an asset for the future. Every link, contact, etc is an asset. “Work out where your best sources of traffic are and lavish attention on them”
Educate, Inspire and Motivate.
- Show people that they can do something or achieve something.
- Always give people a next step! Do that by answering:
… Who are you?
… What do you have?
… How will it help me?
… Why should I care?
… What should I do next?
Make those answers clear, easy and not spammy
- Understand your audience. Love them.
- Build trust through being valuable & consistent. Deliver on promises.
- Encourage sharing and interaction.
- Illustrate benefits and advantages.
- Make friends.
- Always give next steps.
Q and A
@AlizaSherman asks: What is the absolute best part of your job and what you do?
The best part in terms of reward is helping people and knowing I’ve helped people. … Obviously paying the bills is important, too.
Kris Cain asks: What is your biggest piece of advice for someone who’s unexpectedly out of work?
Make your blog a portfolio, and tell people you’re in business. Don’t rely on the blog to do all the work. If you have to telephone people, do that. Once you’ve got some work, get testimonials and such and use that to get more work.
Anne Parris asks: What’s the first thing in the morning for productivity?
Set certain times for work. … Write between 10 and 12. Work out the best times of the day for you.