Blogging For Success In 2013 And Beyond with Yaro Starak
In this episode we speak with Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs Journey. In today’s show, Yaro and I run through what blogging was and what blogging has become in 2013.
So, join us and sit back, relax and enjoy this weeks episode.
Yaro Starak is the founder of Entrepreneurs Journey. He has taught thousands of people how to make a full time income from blogging part time, and how to successfully launch an information product business.
- Yaro’s Background – A look at how Yaro got into blogging
- Changes with blogging – What has changed over the last 10 years
- Blogging 2.0 – What is this?
- Profiting from blogs– – Why the launch formula isn’t sustainable.
- Marketing Automation – How Yaro is using it.
THE FULL TRANSCRIPT
Jake: Welcome back listeners. As mentioned at the top of the episode, we have Yaro Starak from Entrepreneurs Journey on the call today. Yaro, how are you?
Yaro: I’m really good, Jake. Thanks for having me.
Jake: No problems then. Thank you very much for coming on. I really appreciate that. Okay. Listeners, today what we’re going to look at, Yaro’s one of the pioneers really, particularly in the Australian scene with blogging and certainly with Blogging for Profit. What I’d love to really speak to Yaro about today and provide you with this information is we’re really going to run through what blogging was and what blogging is becoming. I think that’s a really interesting topic and Yaro is the man to be discussing this with.
Yaro, for those listeners who don’t know much about you, do you mind giving us a little bit of a background?
Yaro: Sure, the hard part here is being concise. I went to the University of Queensland here in Brisbane and I did a business management degree and it was while I was there that I got my first taste of the internet. We’re talking late ‘90s, so I got my dial-up account. Prior to that I was sort of a Nintendo Sega kid, so I didn’t have computers quite so much and I fell in love with the internet. That was the dawn of my experience. I started a website. I enjoyed having some sort of destination online. I started to make a bit of money from it. It was about a card game called Magic the Gathering that I played while I was in high school and university. I started trading for them in an ecommerce store at that site. I almost had a magazine style blog there, even though it wasn’t a blog because blogging hadn’t been invented, technically, yet.
Then the dot com boom happened and I really wanted to get a bigger business, so I got into a proofreading service that was basically connecting university students with people who are very good at academic writing to help with editing and proofreading and I acted as the middle man connecting those two groups; which was partially inspired by reading the book about how Ebay got started. I was looking to have a business that could scale, you know, we could have as many people buying as you could have selling, so that was exciting to me at the time.
That all went well. I made some money from that. That was sort of my first full time income after University, which led to blogging surprisingly enough because someone told me that a blog was good for searches and rankings. This is about the year 2004, so just before it became kind of mainstream. I started one for the proofreading business but it wasn’t the most exciting subject to write about and it kind of quickly died. I did get the blogging bug, so I started my own blog as a hobby site, just to talk about what I really enjoyed, which was entrepreneurship. Since I already spent the last seven years having these two successful online businesses and I also had an English school that wasn’t so successful, but it was a learning experience as an entrepreneur.
I took all that experience and content and put it into the blog and wrote it really as a hobby, but amazingly enough people started reading it and then it became my main business. The long story short, I ended up selling everything else off and continued to produce Entrepreneurs Journey, my blog, and that spun off into some training products as well as the software service I’m running more currently and I’ve been doing that for the last seven years now. It’s the second half of my career.
Jake: That’s really interesting. Certainly what really jumps out at me is the fact that you’re writing ecommerce back then. What was it like?
Yaro: Well, when I say I’m writing ecommerce, I had a list of cards for sale and I bought a little bit of wholesale product as well from a distributor down in Sydney. Then I’d run to the post office every day sending cards in the mail. I’d get checks in the mail. I’d get kids sending me like a five dollar bill, ten dollar bill in the mail as well to pay for their cards. It was great for a while, but the margins were terrible, but because I would win cards at actual tournaments. I could make some money from it.
Then I got hit by credit card fraud from some people in Thailand and that pretty much shut down my business when all was said and done because I just was naïve and I didn’t really consider the fact that these could be purchases coming from stolen credit cards and they turned out to be that way as I found out six months later when the charge backs started coming in and that was a pretty dark period, actually. I just graduated University, I found myself in debt to about the tune of $8,000. Not a good way to finish your university career.
Jake: Not at all, not at all. It’s amazing how far we’ve come since even the early 2000s. It’s incredible what you can do now, operating pretty much everything off a mobile phone, and you can even run transactions through the phone as well. It’s just crazy thinking how far we’ve come.
Yaro: Yes. There were no mobiles when I was doing that. Well, maybe just … certainly not smartphones. We’re talking, you know, the old gray and black screens with the centipede running on them. That was it.
Jake: Let’s go a little bit deeper into Entrepreneurs Journey. You’re talking it was a hobby and how often were you posting to the site back when you first started?
Yaro: When I first started I was almost daily. It was weird actually. I didn’t think of it as something I had to do, it was just something I wanted to do. I was enjoying writing. I was a bit lucky. I still kept a casual job at a help desk at the University of Queensland while I was making money from my other businesses, but I didn’t have a lot of places to go to. It was a great job, paid well. I kept at it, but the best thing about it was I got to sit in front of a computer for long periods of time and actually use that time to sort of moonlight by writing my blog.
I just had these stories in my head and I wanted to get them out. I had this magic site which I started from scratch, so I talked about how I built it, how I got traffic to it. I had this English school and I talked about how I got office space for it. Then I started this proofreading business and I talked about how I was learning about customer service and learning about marketing with posters. Whatever I was interested in. It was purely a passion based subject because I was loving entrepreneurship. I was still lost a little bit in terms of not sure where a stable income source would come from. I didn’t love my business, like all aspects of it. I liked parts of it, but until I hit blogging and teaching, I found that I wasn’t really hitting all the things I wanted to do with an online business. But, as a blogger, I was sitting there every day telling a story, 1,000 to 2,000 words roughly. I kept that up for probably first year. Maybe not every day, I might have had weekends off, I think. Pretty much … probably more so because I didn’t have much of a life outside of that, so writing my blog was a bit of a highlight for my day, I think. One of the biggest areas I could socialize ironically enough, because it was online and sharing with people that way.
Jake: That’s really interesting. You talk about you didn’t have a clear monetization strategy. How did it come about that this became your full time earner? Did you follow a particular path like for me I think a traditional path would be something like an AdSense into your own products and away you go? What sort of path did you follow to monetization?
Yaro: You’re sort of right. I definitely saw Ad Sense as the way to go about it because Pro Blogger there in Rouse just posted up his $15,000 Ad Sense check from his own photography blog on his church blog. That was impressive and he was the first person to really publically talk about making money with blogging on a public scale. There are other people doing it, but not talking about it.
I had also had my previous experience. I’d run this Magic Cards web site, which I made money from selling banners directly to sponsors. I had an email list through the forum, so I made money sending advertisements out through the email list; and of course, I had the ecommerce store as well as a way to make money. The forum also was a place where people bought and sold cards and I could sell cards there too.
I got how websites could make money. Blogging was a bit different because it was a content based medium that used this new format called a blog. So I first had to learn what made blogging different to running just the standard website. Once I got my head around that, I really did start to read a lot about other people making money with blogs. In general, actually, that’s when I started to also read about internet marketing. I started studying up.
It’s kind of funny. It was two groups of people that turned out to be very distinct groups of people that I actually ended up being kind of like a mix of the two. When I say two groups, I mean bloggers and internet marketers: people who write blogs and put up ads and that’s what they do and then you have internet marketers who grow email lists and promote affiliate products and it’s all about getting people onto that subscription.
It seemed to me that these two groups really didn’t talk to each other at the time. They didn’t in direct response email marketers really didn’t do any sort of ongoing content creation in a blog. Maybe in a newsletter, but really they didn’t have a presence beyond that. Bloggers were like these content machines who were just putting out so much stuff but not getting nearly as much return on investment compared to an email marketer. An email marketer could send one email for a promotion and make $10 – $20,000 back; where a blogger would spend the entire six month period writing 20, 30, 40, 50 posts a month over six months to make half of that money. I was like hmmm, I wasn’t sure which was the right path, but I was enjoying blogging. I started to mix the two and that’s why I did eventually start a newsletter after a year of blogging.
But, to answer your question, AdSense just didn’t work for me. I tried that first and I made about $1 a day, at best; so this is when I really did start to look more at the internet marketers and I started affiliate marketing next. Initially, that kind of bombed as well, but it slowly started to work a little bit and I saw the potential. If I increased my traffic then I could make more money.
For example, my first ever affiliate promotion was for Perry Marshall’s package, which included the Definitive Guide to Google Adwords and a bunch of CDs and things like that. It was like a $25 product; I get I think $20 commission … actually, probably like a $40 product and I get $20 commission. I wrote a blog post promoting it, saying it’s a great offer. Perry’s stuff is amazing. I published it and I went to bed and I expected to wake up with $600 in my PayPal account or at least an email telling me I made money. I woke up to zero.
I got a bit disheartened from the potential to make money with blogging. To be fair, I only had maybe 300 – 400 daily visitors, but still, that’s kind of hard even to get up to that level. I only ever reached about 500 daily visitors with my Magic site, so I was starting to get closer to that number again with my blog and I was disheartened. I decided you know what, I’m enjoying blogging for the fun of blogging and a sale came through two days later. I got my $20 commission email came through and I was like, okay, this is working. Then another sale came through and another sale. I think I ended up making four or five sales from that one blog post.
Then I did the math. I thought okay, if I can make four or five sales from this one blog post with 300 to 400 daily readers, what if I had 1,000 daily readers or 2,000 daily readers. Does my income double, triple from each of these promotions? And that’s sort of what happened. I just kept working, kept growing my audience, started to test more affiliate offers.
There was a period actually where I remember, I was out playing pitch and putt golf with some friends and I had a Blackberry and it was the first time I ever had email on my phone. By that stage I had more money coming from affiliate marketing. I still haven’t released any of my own products on my blog, but I was doing better with affiliate stuff. And Perry had this offer that was for an event that he was charging $2,000 for and he was giving away a laptop. I think he was having trouble selling tickets. You basically got a free MacBook Pro or something if you joined his event for $2,000. The commission as an affiliate was like $700 US. Back then, as an Australian, $700 US, and we’re talking five or six years ago, was probably about $1,000 converted. With one sale, I get $1,000, which is huge, because I have to work a job for two weeks to make that kind of money.
I remember sitting there with my Blackberry and this email comes through and it said you made a sale and it was for one of these tickets and it was $700 and I was like I’m living the dream. I’m playing golf with my Blackberry, getting an email saying I just made $700 when I wasn’t doing any work for it. That was probably the … probably still is, the most single exciting moment I’d ever had in internet marketing because you get a little bit …. I don’t want to say used to it, but you get a little bit more numb to it. The first time it happens, it’s like wow this is amazing! It actually works! Then it starts happening more often and more frequently. You get blasé about it. You really shouldn’t. It’s an absolute gift to be able to make money this way. But that led to really going down the blogging path.
I did eventually create product as well as … I don’t know if you want to talk about that, but certainly affiliate marketing and not AdSense. I still don’t use AdSense, but I just started selling advertising directly to sponsors using banners and text links.
Jake: That’s really interesting. For me, what resonates are these two camps, the bloggers and the internet marketers. I’ve followed both camps relatively closely because I enjoy both camps. It’s almost like now we’re seeing these guys on each side of the coin coming together. It’s almost like everybody realizes it that the bloggers are probably writing that content he’s keying in and bloggers are realizing well, okay, these guys over in the internet marketing space, you need to look at what you’re doing as a business and focus on these other things which they potentially weren’t a few years ago.
Yaro: Yes. The internet marketers are a lot better at making money. No offense to bloggers, but bloggers work a lot harder and get a lot less in return, most of the time. As a generalization, and certainly in my experience, internet marketers do better because they’re just better at conversion. They just know how to make a sale and they go for things that have a higher return on investment. Just create a product and sell it for $1,000 and you make your 100 sales and you’ve just made $100,000. Where a blogger will sit and spend the entire year writing an article a day, never creating a product, never even necessarily doing an email list and just hoping to make enough money from AdSense and maybe make $20,000 at the end of a year.
There’s an opportunity for both to learn from each other, I think and that’s what I try to do. I’ve never been the highest traffic blog in my space. I have a good personal brand and I have a lot of people talking about me, but it’s never been … I’ve never had a site that’s had 5,000 visitors a day even with my blog, but I’ve been able to really take what internet marketing’s taught me and build an information product business around my nice little core group of followers. And because of that, turn over a million dollars over a few years.
Where I don’t think most bloggers with the kind of traffic I have would even get close to that, because they wouldn’t have the email list; they wouldn’t create the products; they wouldn’t do product launches; they wouldn’t have affiliates promoting their stuff. All those extra layers that you kind of put into effort as an internet marketer, not as a blogger, but certainly the lines are getting blurred, because like you said, finally internet marketers and bloggers are kind of … well, it’s funny, internet marketers need to learn from the content creating world because I think it’s certainly in our space making money online topics and blogging for profit topics and anything to do with that sort of space, it’s a very mature customer. They’re very used to the locked formula. They want more for their attention nowadays, so you can’t really use what internet marketing used to use with just one email saying here, this is a great product. Click here and buy it. You get the commission just because you signed up with someone onto an email.
Now there’s a lot of distrust, there’s a lot of jadedness and what bloggers are great at doing is building trust and that’s why they make the sale because they’ve spent all this time building a relationship and they have the trust, but they just don’t get the conversion as well. So, if you can mix those two, which I’ve always been teaching people, then, yes, it can work out really well.
Jake: Yes, that really is very interesting because that is one thing that I see, the internet marketers are all about traffic and as you say, conversions, but they’re not building lifetime value with their customers in a lot of cases, whereas the bloggers are pretty much the opposite. They focus on building this relationship with their readers and almost in the past forgotten that they’re trying to sell them something or feel like they can’t sell them something. I think it’s really amazing and it’s an interesting time for us right now.
What does Brand Yaro right now entail? What does it look like?
Yaro: You caught me at an interesting time, actually, Jake. I’ve been working. I always am maintaining my blog. That’s something that I never stop doing. I like to blog. I like to do part guest interviews like we’re doing now. Just recently, I’ve added more video to what I’m doing. I’m definitely trying to get all three formats of written, audio and visual content happening on a regular basis.
My grand plan from the blogging information publishing side of the fence is to really practice what I preach this year and build a proper sales funnel. By that I mean have a product suite that targets the main things that I know my customers need help with. I always have something of my own that’s of value that I can recommend and have a frontend series of products and a backend series of products and link all that together with an effective marketing system. That starts with a really great blog at the frontend, which gets them onto a really great newsletter with a really great free report. All great free information, building trust relationships; so I have a lot of that built, but I haven’t got all of it done. That’s what I’m doing a lot right now behind the scenes, while maintaining my value that I give to people, so doing all that decoration.
I’ve also spent the last about two years now working on a software startup, which is a completely different experience for me. Just basically two years ago I said, you know what, I’ve had enough of being an information marketer. I want to have a startup. I want to do something that could be potentially much larger than just me teaching. It’s obviously kind of like the dot com boom 2.0 at the moment a little bit with maybe not all the false dreams and hopes and companies that don’t make money, but certainly a lot of investment money and a lot of talk about it. To start a software company was something I wanted to do and I have a couple of partners; one’s a developer and one’s a designer and we created this thing called Cranky Ads, which is an advertising management system for bloggers. I’m staying in my space, although we are opening it up to all website owners as well. It’s basically something I’ve wanted for my own blog for a long time, a simple tool to rotate banner ads, text link ads and video ads and hopefully soon, sponsor reviews as well. Really make it simple to use and have a few strong marketing psychology pieces in there like the way I sell ads. I have sold ads on my site since the very early days. That first Magic site was, you know, primarily making money from banner ads and that’s ten years ago plus now. Well, it’s 13 years ago now to be actually honest.
I’ve always had advertising as an income source, so having this tool is very synergistic to what I’ve done over the years. That’s working on the side. I had some problems with that. It’s a whole new experience. It’s a lot harder to make it work because software development is a lot difficult compared to writing an article or producing a course. It’s something I can’t do. I can’t program and it just takes a lot more work than I thought to get something out the door.
We’re about to reach, I think in the next sort of six months, we will reach the point in Cranky Ads’ development that I thought we’d be at about 18 months ago. A bit of a development lag there and there’s all kinds of reasons and a huge back story I could tell you about that, but that’s probably a separate interview altogether. Personally, I’m spending a lot of time building up my information product funnel and just getting my stuff out the door again. My Blog Mastermind Course and how to make money blogging has been closed for 18 months because it needs to be redone. I have a membership site training program, same story. I’m trying to get that out the door again and current. I just want all of this to be built on a solid foundation.
One of the things I’m trying not to do this time is be launch based, because a lot of my marketing in the past is all about two weeks of excitement and releasing great free information and having affiliates promote me and then here’s my course, it’s only open for a couple of weeks, then close it down. And that’s brilliant. Jeff Walker and his product launch formula is really a great marketing system and it’s a great way to make a lot of sales quickly, which I’ve done now probably 10 to 15 times through opening campaigns, and closing campaigns and reopening campaigns and specials and deals and so on and so forth. I don’t want to be a launch guy and it’s not a great way to run a sustainable business because you have to always be creating and doing launches. I’m trying to build something a bit actually closer to like an Evan Pagan system. He’s got his double your dating, David D’Angelo product or Rich Schefren with his strategic profits and he has webinars that go automatically.
Once the product’s created, once the sales fund was built, your job is just to get new leads. If you would ask me what’s my goal here in terms of the big dream is I want to do what I do already. Sit in cafes and live the laptop lifestyle. Write articles, do interviews, just have fun creating content knowing that when I do so, the machine behind my content is really a well converting machine and I have valuable products that help people. I make sales. I make money. It’s just all about me producing more content to make it work and that I like.
Jake: That makes a lot of sense. That’s what I’ve personally noticed just in a very basic way trying to implement it myself. It seems to be that the product launch type formula, it’s almost like you have these really small funnel which you’re trying to funnel all this trafficking to it and coming in this … there’s only one entry point into the funnel and then the backend is the upsales or whatever. It now seems to be a lot broader. It’s almost like you have different points in the funnel that customers can enter when they’re ready. That seems to be, to me, it seems to be a lot more of a … how would you put it … it seems to be a lot better way to do it because you’re not burning customers out as quick or you’re not burning them out at all because you’re offering them value and you’re not forcing them to make a decision when they’re not ready to make a decision.
Yaro: Rich Schefren made a really good point when he talked about launches and he said there’s no better brand or company or even personal brand launching tool, creation tool. If you want to say hello, I’ve arrived. This is what I’m a specialist at, this is why people trust and enter the marketplace with a big hello. Make a lot of money, make a lot of sales and do that. If you wanted to have an ongoing sustainable business, you have to move beyond launches and come up with basically something where the numbers work so you can always go out there and even buy traffic at $1 per lead knowing you’ll make $1.10 on the backend through the system. You know your numbers. You have everything lined up and working well.
The launch process, I have to give a lot of credit. I think most people who know me is because I wrote the Blog Profits Blueprint. The reason why they got in touch with the Blog Profits Blueprint was because I did a launch which included at the time … you know, we are going back to 2007, six years ago. It had Darren Rouse pro-blogger recommending it. It had John Chow recommending it. It had Brian Clark from Copy Blog recommending it. It had all the names, the biggest names at the time in the blogging space, as well as a few internet marketers, Jeff Walker eventually promoted me and so did Rich and a few others. I had lots of affiliates. It was great.
They helped to put my name as a guy who teaches people how to make money blogging out there. Now it’s harder to do that now because A., there’s more of us; B., people are more hesitant to promote the launches, because like you said, there’s a burnout affect. You don’t want to basically ruin all your relationships by just promoting stuff after stuff after stuff, which some people still do. Most bloggers won’t do that. They don’t want to do that. Most bloggers finally, certainly the people I just mentioned there, Brian Clark and Darren Rouse, and John Chow, they’ve all got their own products now. They promote their own stuff. Why not? It makes sense. They get to keep 100%. They’re in control of the product. There’s no risk about customer service because they control it all.
I guess in a lot of ways everyone’s caught up with the internet marketing world and product creation world and they have big businesses. Brian Clark has a huge business behind Copy Blogger now with all of his plugins and SEO services and hosting and WordPress-tines and everything like that. I couldn’t get Brian to recommend the Blueprint now. Unless we were really, really close buddies hanging out every weekend, it’s not going to happen. You do have to find different ways to launch yourself into a market. But, it’s still possible. Look at Pat Flynn. There’s a guy who sort of came … not by doing a launch, just by working hard through blogging, through pod casting, through video, really finding a resonance with where a lot of people are at; choosing the best keyword you could ever think of, passive income online.
Yaro: If I had my chance again, I would not name my blog Entrepreneurs Journey. Pat’s nailed it. He put passive income in it and just, obviously, being a genuine nice guy, which is resonating with a lot of people. Also doing some really good experiments that show people how he’s making money. And that’s always worked. Case studies have always been effective. Through a combination of just consistent exposure through multiple channels, like being interviewed on podcasts, getting invited to talk at events, he slowly built up the name and the brand and he’s done in two years what one launch would potentially do for you, but it’s just as effective and perhaps more sustainable, long term as well. He has a lot of people who will just follow Pat regardless of what he does. He doesn’t need to launch a great product. In fact, he doesn’t even really have his own product. He’s the guy who bucks the train in a lot of ways. He does show that it’s possible.
I still think that melding the two worlds is the best way to go. I’m not against launches. I love what Pat does, but I also think for a lot of people it’s not accessible to get his result. They just won’t replicate that. You do need to get better at your marketing, especially because you’re going to be working with smaller numbers. If you don’t have these big numbers and you don’t have the exposure, you need a tighter message, you need better marketing, you need launch techniques and you need direct response marketing techniques. I think I’ve gone off track a little bit here.
Jake: No, this is good. I think it’s all very valuable. I entirely agree with everything you’ve just said there. It’s exactly right. Why don’t we continue down this path about how you go about building this great marketing funnel? I guess it’s a phrase that you’ve coined recently, Blog Content 2.0. What is this?
Yaro: Well, I’ve been a teacher of good blog writing since the early days and I coined the phrase Pillar Content and to my surprise it sort of caught on as a great way to describe what you can hope is an outcome from writing blog content or any kind of blog content you produce. It’s changed since I did the initial coining of that phrase in 2007. The outcome from it hasn’t changed. I should really be … to actually correct the term, it hasn’t changed because when you do something that creates a pillar event, all that means is you get an influx of readers. You get a lot of people sharing your content. Back in the day they might have shared it through email and through posting it on their blog, where today they do it by liking it on Facebook and sharing it by re-tweeting it and adding it to their Pintrist or putting it on Stumbled Upon, whatever tools they use. The tools have changed but the outcomes haven’t.
Plus, of course, you still have the power of Google and getting search results; the more people who share and the more links that come in, the more likely that content will rank well and have long term traffic. That was really the two goals with the pillar: a rush of traffic to your blog content; and long term stable. Not quite as big as that initial launch of course, but hopefully 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100 whatever it is visitors per day will keep coming from search to that article and then interact with your blog, join your list, et cetera.
For me, I’ve been writing about writing, teaching the method how to do good blog content was one of my subjects and it’s … I felt that it needed to be updated. For me, I think we all know what our options are for content creation. We hear it every day. Create a podcast. Do YouTube videos. Write great blog articles with lots of pictures. Put a lot of research into them. Understand your audience so you’re getting the exact subjects that they want. Combine all those mediums into one piece of content.
Back in the day you could write a 700 word article with six dot points, publish it, it would get shared across a bunch of sites. As soon as you hit the front page of a life hacker or a tech crunch or whatever, you just suddenly got … or back in the day, it was Dig … you just get 10,000 visitors and away you go. That was like a launch for a lot of blogs. I think John Chow got his start by really gaining Dig in a lot of ways.
That’s not the same. It’s not as easy. It’s not as multimedia as seems to be required today. That being said, in certain markets, it’s always going to be the value of the content. The medium is sort of a magnifier. If you have a great idea, the idea itself is what sells. But, if you do release that idea through video, through audio, and through text, then you hit all modalities of learning, so you can reach more people.
That’s been actually my own experience. It’s interesting for me, I’ve increased video. That’s the one area where I’ve been doing more than what I used to do. I’ve always done writing and I’ve always done podcasts, but video’s increased. I have had people who watch these videos and they’re not like … most of my videos of me talking in front of the camera for five minutes just about whatever I’ve done that day. It’s not high production value, it’s record, upload, done. But people who don’t read my blog, who don’t listen to my podcasts are watching the videos, because they’re video people. They leave comments on the video at YouTube. I have conversations where they say, “Yes, I was watching your videos.” I realize I’m tapping into a third channel there that I really didn’t have before, which certainly is exposing me to new audiences.
As a content creator, you have all these options and I want to be careful here, because the concept of Blog Content 2.0 just means that you’re providing more value through more mediums and I don’t want people to think though they have to master all these mediums straight away. In fact, I think if anything, the biggest lesson that I think, compared to the old days … in the old days, writing five times a week, getting something out the door was the most important thing. That’s still the most important thing if you’re in news blog. Most people I think listen to this won’t be news bloggers, they’ll be a specialist at a certain subject area so they’re trying to establish their brand, build up a nice following of what I … I didn’t coin the phrase, but the 1,000 true fans or the tribe, Seth Golden for tribe and Art Kelley for 1,000 true fans.
That’s not a lot of people, but they have to be really, really focused evangelists for you and what you stand for and what you do and what you produce and obviously buy everything you do produce. That’s how you make your money from your business. In order to get that sort of following, it’s actually more effective if you touch them really powerfully once or twice with your content. Even if you just do it once or twice in a month.
I think the way blog content is changing and where I would teach now is, don’t necessarily do it five times a week, if you can’t. We have to factor in people’s lives into the equation here. It’s just not realistic for some people. If you do produce content let’s say once a week, make that once a week article really kick ass. Put the video in as well. Convert it to an audio file. Write 2,000 words instead of 700. Put in some amazing pictures.
I recently wrote an article on Blog Content 2.0 and I pointed out some formulas. You can use those …. What are they called? Those graphics …
Jake: Info graphics.
Yaro: Info graphics, yes. Those really long pictures. They explain an idea off and statistically or they visually present an idea. One I recently republished was the one on how sitting down can kill you and there’s been all this research into that. There’s a very long info graph about all the factors of that. That’s something that’s been shared a lot. You can do things like info graphs. You can do entire video series. Five videos to cover a topic in one blog post. That’s a lot of work, but that blog post will more likely hit a lot of people. Especially if it’s a fundamental subject like how to do something that’s really important in your market.
Using audio, I think like you’re doing this podcast and I think the people who are really going to do well in the future like … I think David’s site, McGarland is a good example with his Rise to the Top podcast, which is the most successful ones at the moment. He’s had success because he decided to do daily, or at least he was daily. He decided to do video interviews, not just audio, like you and I are doing an audio right now. I have hours in audio, but he’s prepared to sit in front of the camera and get someone face to face, which is slightly better. Plus, he releases as audio, as video in two different streams in ITunes, as well as obviously having the transcript; and is hitting every single medium there. You have the text people, the video people and the audio people, the portable people, the people who want to sit in front of the computer, the ITunes subscribers, the RRS subscribers through blog content. You’re just giving yourself the chance to reach everyone.
These sorts of ways to augment just what you do when you produce good ideas is how you can really have more of an impact on the world, but you don’t have to do it as frequently. That’s really the message here. Better value, less frequently. Tim Farris, one of the best examples, his blog is sometimes updated once a month, but man, when he publishes a blog post, it’s always like wow that’s really interesting stuff and it’s usually 5,000 words long or a mini documentary or something like that. It’s really engaging and interesting stuff. He has probably more traffic than 99% of all blogs that the internet has, but he doesn’t write every day. He’s not a tech crunch or a mashable or verge or whatever the media sites are. He’s just an individual who has a great following because of his books, but the blog is not updated frequently.
Of course, there’s always the counterintuitive person like Seth Godin who writes 100 words per blog post every now and then and he’s massive, but that’s because he’s massive from all the book writing he’s done. Everything has a combination of things that result in an outcome and you have to sort of figure out what works for you, what works for your lifestyle, what works for the way you produce content and build that platform. I think for most people, that goal of 1,000 true fans is really the most important thing to look out for and try and reach that point, because then you can have a full time income from your online business and that’s the most important thing.
Jake: Yes, definitely. It really is. It’s so interesting the different strategies you can take. Seth, just from the sheer volume that he puts out means that he’s going to be producing amazing stuff. But there are … probably 50% of the stuff he does put out, he’s fantastic, because it’s on such a regular schedule, you almost forget about it because you have a new piece to focus on the next day.
Yaro: And it’s him. If some guy with no reputation posted these little smart ideas every day, they’re not going to reach that many people and certainly not short term. Maybe eventually, but he built the platform through books. That’s the thing. Everyone has a breakthrough mechanism. Some people use books, some people use TV, some people use live events to talk about events, some people get it through other people. For example, I just listened to Pat’s recent interview and he gives credit to my interview with him as his flashpoint for sort of putting him on the map.
I certainly think for me, my flashpoint was the release of the Blog Profits Blueprint and having all these other bloggers talk about me and that was six years ago. Everyone kind of arrives somehow and then people pay more attention to you. That’s the important part. Why are people paying attention to you? And then you get to play around with different formats and find something that suits your style. In Seth’s case, 50 words a day is all you need.
Jake: Yes, definitely. Let’s shift gears a little bit and let’s go back to the platform you’re using to be able to build your funnel. I’m really interested in the systems that run a business. I recently saw that you posted about you moving from A. Webber across to Office Autopilot.
Yaro: How did you learn that?
Jake: See, that was in a video, wasn’t it?
Yaro: See, it was.
Jake: Why did you decide to move from just a traditional email or email broadcast and auto-respondent system to something more complex like Office Autopilot?
Yaro: Before I answer that question, I’m curious about … do you read blog posts or do you mostly do like watch videos or listens to podcasts?
Jake: Personally, my consumption time is while I’m driving. I might drive 40 minutes each way into work five days a week. That’s the best time for me to consume. I can’t work and listen at the same time. I tend to zone out of what’s in the background and focus on work. Video is the same thing. I need to have 100% focus, so for me, audio is probably my best mode for learning because I can actually be doing something and listen, have a good decent block of time where I can tune in and listen to what’s going on.
Yaro: My YouTube video I talked about moving to Office Autopilot. Was that just playing the audio somewhere in the background while you were driving?
Jake: That’s quite interesting and I think the different forms of media play our best in different formats. Your videos, James Schramko’s videos are small enough you can consume them in a 10 minute break somewhere here and there throughout the day. That’s generally where I’ll consume it on YouTube. I subscribe to a number of people on YouTube and I’ll two or three times a day just head across there and watch something else if there’s something new.
Yaro: Interesting, huh?
Jake: Very interesting.
Yaro: I find the different modalities, because I can’t stand watching videos most of the time. It’s so slow. I want to fast forward, but they don’t have the technology to make that easy to do yet. Anyway, just trying to make the point I guess that you do hit people, like I would have not touched you with that content video last year, because I wasn’t doing it. And it does surprise me how often you … you underestimate the people that are ignoring you because you failed to transcribe your podcast, as an example. Or like most people, this is what I’m not doing right now, but I want to, is I want to get an audio version of every blog post I write and get it into ITunes and get it as a video in YouTube, which shouldn’t be that hard to do. I’m working on that at the moment, to develop a system to get that happening automatically; very much like Profit Hacks from Pete Williams and Rich Schefren.
To go back to your question, Jake, the switch, yes, like you said, I am working from A Webber, which has been my email auto-responder for the last eight years or something like that. It’s a scary move because it’s been my main income source for that time too. Most of my money comes from my lists.
The reason why I decided to move to Office Autopilot is because I’m building that sales following like I told you about earlier in the interview. If I want to do more advanced things, for example, really have some structured tunnels for people to go through, as an example, my frontend will be join my newsletter, get my Blog Profits Blueprint. It flags people as interested in making money with blogs. That’s my main positioning strategy. That’s my best subject to teach on. I’ve got the most experience. It makes sense. I can help those people the most and it’s a popular way to make money, so it’s meeting a need as well.
Then when people come into funnel, I want to have tunnels that branch out depending where they are. I will be having a basically an entry level ebook on mindset and productivity because I think that’s the first area where people usually go wrong, which stops them succeeding in everything else they do from that point forward. I want to promote that first. Whether or not they buy, I don’t know, but it’ll be there.
Then I want to have or I will have a guide on buying and selling blogs and websites, because again, at the entry point of this, you either decide to build a site from scratch yourself if you’re new or if you have a little bit of cash available, speed up the process by buying a blog or buying a website. I want that option to be made available. And I have content on that subject and I’ve done myself in the past so I can teach the area.
Then often what happens is once you have your blog, whether you bought it or you created it yourself, the next issue is traffic. I have an introductory guide on building traffic to blog. So all those are my frontend guidebooks and each of those will have a follow up sequence if they buy that product. I also have a subscription club on the backend as an upsale to each of those products.
One of the wonderful things about Office Autopilot is being able to tag people based on actions they take. It’s the granular level, like if they click a link in this email, move them from this list to this list. Even if they click this link on your website, move them from this list to this list; or add them to another list. One of the best examples I can think of that I’d really like to do is because I have a training product of how to make money with blogs, but I also have a training product on how to make money with membership sites.
I’m not known as a membership site trainer, but I’ve done a couple of those and I have a product that has some good stuff in it, but I don’t want to be promoting membership site training to people who are interested in making money from blogs. What will make sense is that in my sequence, at some point, it’ll be like click here to download my guide on how to make money with membership sites and that will then flag them as a person interested in membership sites. I can then have them go onto a new follow up sequence on that subject selling them my membership site product.
There’s a lot of control. You actually get to play around with Office Autopilot. There’s a lot of different things you can do, especially with the if/then actions; not just moving from one list to another, but you can also have them get sent a postcard in the mail. You can have them move to a different type of membership sites because it’s integrated with membership sites as well. I’m talking like in hypothetical speak as well, because I haven’t built most of these features yet. I’m very much at the transition point where I’ve just moved all my contacts from A Webber into Office Autopilot. In fact, today, I’ll be sending my first ever large broadcast using Office Autopilot instead of A Webber. It’s a pretty big, pretty monumentous day in terms of testing Office Autopilot and seeing how, if I get the same response in terms of my emails being opened and my emails being clicked and things like that. I’m excited to do that.
What I’m really excited about is it is an all in one solution. If it can do what it claims it can do, I won’t need to use anything else other than Office Autopilot for my email, for my shopping cart, for my affiliate system, for sending direct postcards in the mail, which is something I’ve not done, but I would like to do more of that sort of thing for drip feeding content through a membership site. There are two plugins that work directly with WordPress so I’m already a WordPress user. Theoretically, it should handle my entire information product business. I have high hopes because I know, for example, Marie Forleo and Evan Pagan and I just saw recently Frank Kern is using as well.
There are a lot of people who seemed to have decided to go with it as opposed to maybe Infusion Soft, which was kind of like the next level up for most people from A Webber. They almost always would switch to Infusion Soft, but so many people struggled with it. They just find it too confusing and I didn’t even bother looking at it for that reason, because I knew if these people were struggling, it’s going to be too hard for me as a one man operation.
While I don’t want to be the person necessarily doing all the work, I want to know how my system works at least, so that when you lose a person or something like that, you can go in there and fix things in emergencies and things like that. So far, from what I’ve been working with Office Autopilot, I get it. I understand it, so that’s a really good sign and I can see how I can use it. It’s nice to be in a position right now where I see this sort of castle that I have to build this year and the tools are there. It’s just a case of sitting down and building everything step by step, making sure it all works and hopefully by the end of 12 months’ time from now.
Next year, if someone comes to my blog or any of my landing pages and opts into my newsletter, there will be a sequences of messages and a sequence of products that’s optimized and delivers a lot of value, converts really well, makes a lot of money and I can just sit and write articles and do interviews and reach more people knowing that they will enter that system and the machine will deliver the value.
Jake: Yes. Yes, definitely. What really excites me about these marketing automation tools is that in essentially the same way that you can add people to funnels, into sales funnels you can actually remove people based on their non-actions and put them back into a nurture funnel. They’re not ready to buy yet because they’re not showing interest in the clicks, so you can put them back into more of a nurture funnel, deliver extra awesome content and then when the time comes where they are showing interest, pop them back across into one of the ad sales funnels.
Yaro: Some of this is so laborious to set it all up, but what you can do with Office Autopilot is if they opt into the newsletter but never click the link to go download the actual resource you give them, you can have them moved to a list that then says, “Why haven’t you downloaded the resource yet?” You have so many granular levels of response that you could … like if you really got good at this, every single action if it’s not taken, you can have reminder series to go “what are you doing? Why aren’t you acting on this?” You can try to keep people more active than otherwise.
I’ve certainly been slacked in the past. My email sequence has been here’s some content, here’s some content, not really caring whether they click the links. I look at the numbers, but I haven’t been proactively trying to improve them.
Jake: Yes, that’s really interesting. I was literately taking a plunge a few weeks ago into Infusionsoft, so I’m enjoying the exact same thing that you’re talking about here.
Yaro: You obviously haven’t found it too confusing then.
Jake: No, I haven’t. The learning curve was initially about stapes, but into it now three or four weeks into using the software. I probably liken the learning curve to that of WordPress.
Yaro: They just raised some funds so I’m sure anyone who complains about things, they’re well aware of it. I know that’s been the biggest complaint people have had. They call it Confusion Soft for a reason, but I expect people will get a better and better user experience with it over time now.
Jake: Yes. We better move on from this subject because I’m sure we’re boring our listeners.
Jake: It’s a mad scientist side of the racketing and I really enjoy it, but yes, it’s not for everybody. We’ve been going for close to 50 minutes now, so I really appreciate you taking the time you have. You’re setting up your funnels again. Where do you see blogging going into the future?
Yaro: Well, it depends on your goals. I think, I mean blogs will always be multimedia … well, not multimedia, but the new media source for the big size, but that’s not really relevant for most of us. I don’t think most of us want to start a new tech crunch or whatever it is in your industry. It’s possible. I love the case study from one of my friends, with his car rice blog here in Australia which was one guy just writing articles about cars, and now it’s a team of 20 and a whole writing team and they’re covering every news event. They get flown into Europe. It’s worth $20 million. It’s a magazine online. And that’s amazing and that’s a possibility. I have a couple of example of people I work with who’ve reached that point and that’s huge.
It doesn’t work for most people though because getting to that level of traffic is very difficult, especially as an individual. You really do need to start wrapping up your content creation if you follow that model. I think for most people, if you’re interested in making money with blogging, getting better at internet marketing is so important. You really do need to get more from fewer people because you’re not going to have tens of thousands of daily visitors. You need to be able to make a living off of your 1,000 daily visitors and build the newsletter, build a funnel behind it that converts, find out where your best point of leverage is, where you provide the most value and then go deep in that area.
Too many bloggers, I think, follow that formula of just produce more and get more eyeballs and I’ll make more money from advertising or I’ll make more money from selling affiliate products. But, if you actually build a funnel behind it, your visitor value is much greater. A blogger who has 1,000 readers who just does advertising affiliate income, they’re often making 20 cents on average per user. Where if they turn that to an information product business with a series of products, it gets into the multiple dollars per visitor instead, because one person buys a $20 ebook then goes on to a $50 a month subscription and then maybe if they’re an ultra-responsive dedicated 1,000 true fan type person, they’re going to buy your $500 course and attend your $2,000 live event, if you go down that path. That’s the difference between making an okay income from a blog to you’re now making six figures, multiple six figures, even seven figures. That’s, I think, an outcome for anyone who’s interested in making money from a blog, if they can really learn all these steps.
Most of it just comes down to making sure you understand what market you’re going after; getting your positioning really right; getting the problem and understanding it really well, then going through a process that all of us have to go through of slowly building the platform that can make you money.
I think in the future, just as today is the future for me compared to six years when I started blogging … well, I started blogging about eight years ago, but when I started making money from it and seeing the ways to make money back then, the fundamentals didn’t change. It’s still about audience attention. It’s still about conversion points and selling things.
The tools we use to reach people and the tools we use to analyze those things, the conversion points, they’ve changed. They’ve increased. There’s social media; there’s really good metrics tools; there’s really good shopping carts and customer relationship management tools like we talked about this before; there’s new blogging tools and it’s really possible to reach so many more people now because there’s so many more people online.
If you don’t get the fundamentals right, it doesn’t really matter. You’re not making any money from it and you’re not reaching any people. So, learn the fundamentals and then decide which of the tools you want to use. If new tools come along, you can decide to use them. Like I decided to use Twitter and Facebook, but I decided to pretty much ignore Linked-In and Stumble Upon, but some people love Linked-In and Stumble Upon. It’s up to you how you use what you use, just get the fundamentals right.
Jake: That’s a fantastic summary of it all. All right, Yaro. Thanks very much for coming on. Where can our listeners find out more about you?
Yaro: I tell people to Google my name: Y-A-R-O, because it’s easy to remember and I’m trying to be like Oprah and Madonna. My actual website is entrepreneurs-journey.com, but that word “entrepreneur” tends to throw people. If you just remember Yaro, Y-A-R-O, you’ll find everything, my blog, my YouTube channel, my podcast, just by looking around for my name.
Jake: That’s brilliant. Yaro, thank you very much, for coming on the episode. You’ve shared with our listeners a whole heap of really awesome content and I really appreciate that.
Yaro: Thank you very much for having me, Jake. I’ve enjoyed the chat and I hope everyone got something from it and can go out there and make some money from whatever they’re doing with blogs. Good luck.