Back in October of 2014 I was invited by Heidi Armstrong to appear on the 2GB Sydney “Entrepreneur” weekly radio show she co-hosts with Steve Price to talk about making money with blogs. You can view the video above or read the transcript below.
After the show Heidi said if I was ever down in Sydney she would love to have me on her SkyNews Business TV program. Of course I was very keen, so I booked it in for the trip to Sydney I had coming up at the time.
I enjoyed 12 minutes of live TV with Heidi to talk about how to make money with blogs. The recording is now available, which you should see above this text to watch on YouTube. I’ve also made the text transcript available below.
This was my first time on LIVE television, which certainly impacted how nervous I was, especially sitting there waiting for our turn to go live and my turn to talk.
I was expecting some kind of preparation training – maybe even some makeup! – but the instructions were pretty straight forward. “Clip this mic on and sit in this chair” was all the instructions I received. The rest was completely off the top of my head.
In the end I think we were able to cover some good points, especially for the new to blogging for money audience that was watching.
The key is that these principles still apply to blogging, even today, which explains why so many people are able to be successful as bloggers by following them.
Press play above to watch and then leave a comment to let me know what you thought of my first live TV appearance.
HEIDI: Welcome to Business Success. I’m Heidi Armstrong. Now, tonight, we ask the question, can you make money from writing a blog? Now, my first guest, Yaro Starak, well, he earns his income this way and he also helps others to do the same. So, if you are someone working in a full time capacity but really keen to kick start something of your own, well, there are a few golden rules you really should know to help guarantee your success. We will look at that tonight.
Now, if you are toying with the idea of starting your own business and wondering if there is any financial benefit to writing a blog, then there is much to be learnt from my next guess.
Yaro, he earns his income from blogging and he’s going to tell us how to do it. Welcome to the show, Yaro.
YARO: Thank you for having me, Heidi.
HEIDI: Our pleasure.
So, you started your blog about ten years ago as a bit of a hobby. At what point did you drop your day job and receive income from the blog?
YARO: It took me about 18 months to really feel like I could live off the blog only. It was a lot of trial and error in the first year but, after about 18 months, I was making between five and ten thousand dollars a month which I thought was enough to live a good full-time lifestyle.
HEIDI: So, this is your blog called Entrepreneurs’ Journey and what did you do? You just started talking about what interested you about entrepreneurs, is that it?
YARO: Basically, I was an entrepreneur before I was a blogger. So, I had a proofreading company. I had a card game website where I sold cards, a game we used to play in high school.
I started this blog as a hobby to tell stories about my experience as an entrepreneur and also these things I was thinking about as an entrepreneur, you know, always having ideas so, I started chronicling about my journey and giving tips about things I had done that had worked, things that hadn’t worked and an audience started to grow. So, I was a bit surprised.
HEIDI: People were interested.
YARO: I was surprised but yes, it worked.
HEIDI: Is that the trick, do you think? Is the trick about finding the topic that you’re interested in? Is it that simple?
YARO: I think that’s half the trick so, you need to make sure you have some sort of advantage, some sort of strength, knowledge, and skill in your subject area but, there has to be a market for it.
You have to have potential buyers of products or a potential audience that will read your content so you can sell advertising and get enough traffic. So, two sides ñ right strength and also a buying marketplace.
HEIDI: So, how do you know? How do you know, Yaro that I’m a winner of an idea? And, do you help people with that sort of thing? Do you say, “I’m sorry. That’s just not going to have legs that will take off”?
YARO: Oh definitely. I think it’s the right thing to do. I coach people a lot so, you don’t want to have people investing two years of their life on a topic that will never make money. One of the smartest things you can do to begin with is some sort of test to prove that there actually are buyers in the market so, I recommend bloggers do a lot of research first and just find out. Are there people buying products and services in the same industry that you’re about to enter? Are there other blogs? Are there other websites? Are there even TV shows, radio shows, magazines and newspapers?
So, make sure there already is a market and an industry and then, find out where you are going to fit. So, what’s slice of that marketplace are you going to take and what your specialty is going to be?
HEIDI: Now Yaro, is this how you did it? Because it’s sounding not like you started out. You just fell into the success, did you or was there a strategy behind it?
YARO: Ten years ago, it was the early days. So…
HEIDI: Right, okay, you’re forgiven.
YARO: People today get the benefit of the hindsight of people who started ten years ago. So, I did have more trial and error. The difference is it did take me about a year to make a single dollar from what I was doing where you could find out within the first three months, even the first month if you’re very proactive but, you get the advantage of the research like I sort of threw ideas out there and saw what stuck, thankfully. There was a bit of luck there as well. I was in a market where people do spend money and I was able to make it work.
But, definitely, try and do more research today than what I did back then.
HEIDI: Right, okay. Yaro, we talk about blogs and I’m conscious that, you know, you and I know what a blog is, what about for people who are thinking, “Well, what’s the difference between a blog and a website?”
YARO: Well, I didn’t know this question either. I was very interested in websites before blogging and then, someone said, you should start a blog. So, the main differences there is that they are kind of like journals. Certainly, in the early days, there were one individual writing a blog. It’s sort of like the first type of social media. People were sharing their photos of their breakfast like they do in Facebook and Twitter nowadays but, the real difference at the early days was the interaction. It was the first time you can leave comments on other people’s sites. Blogs had content that was released in chronological order so you got the most recent content on the start and it was very social. So, people would start linking back and forward to each other, and you have to remember, blogging came about a time when websites were very static. Most websites didn’t have interaction. They very rarely update it so, it’s changed a lot.
HEIDI: Do you make money from a blog or do you make money from your website?
YARO: Well, I mean, both. It depends on what your business is. You may –
HEIDI: Say your business.
YARO: Okay, my business in particular, I have only a blog. My blog is my website. So, basically, I have my blog. I share content. I write articles. I do videos. I do podcasts and then, I teach people and I sell digital courses, I sell eBooks that I have written myself. I sell live coaching and phone coaching, things like that. Other people will sell software or services or even physical products that they might make themselves.
So, it’s just like normal business but, your blog is where you build your audience.
HEIDI: We’ve heard, or lots of people have probably heard, the saying, “Content is king,” do you think that that’s true or we’ve moved past that and you actually have to do a little bit more than with your content other than just post it up?
YARO: Well, content never was king by itself.
HEIDI: Oh, this is controversial.
YARO: Yes. There has always been a queen, I guess you could say.
HEIDI: All right, okay.
YARO: And, that’s marketing. That’s going out there and pushing your message out on to different channels. Today, you’re kind of lucky in one sense. We do have social media. We have Facebook and Twitter and all these other platforms where we can connect with other people in our industry. So, you need to do both.
Write your own blog. Produce your own content. Build an audience but, also spend some time going out there to reach other people, maybe get on TV, maybe get on radio, all those sorts of things do build your audience.
So, it is two sides of the same coin really.
HEIDI: So, it is about making sure that you have the content but, that you’re marketing that content.
Now, a lot of people might say that social media is a great place to market your content. Is it fair to say, well, that’s useless if you actually don’t have the followers?
YARO: I think it’s important to have a place for people to go outside of social media. That’s what the blog is.
HEIDI: …to take them back to your site.
YARO: Yes, and an email list. We haven’t really talked about that but, my blog and my email list make up my business and my email newsletter. So, there’s two aspects to it.
I use social media. I use lots of marketing techniques but, I am always bringing people back to the blog and back to the email list.
HEIDI: And, back to that position where they can make the payment.
YARO: Well, yes. So, to the blog, to the email list and then, to my products and services. That’s how I make a living. But, you know, 90% of my audience just read my content for free. There’s only a small percentage who actually buy my products which is also wonderful because it does allow me to help people without necessarily asking for money but, I do need the customers to run a business as well.
HEIDI: Your way of getting income then is from providing services to customers? It’s not from selling your space to marketers?
YARO: I did in the early days and it is still very, very common online today to do advertising. Most of the sort of Huffington Post and Mashables and Tech Crunches, the big blogs, those ones will primarily use advertising as their mainstream of income.
I am more of what you call like a specialist expert blogger so, I prefer to sell products and services because I think it’s better profit margins, I get more personal satisfactions from selling my own writing, my own work so, you’ve got options. They’re both available to all bloggers.
HEIDI: If I am somebody who is starting a business and I’d like to dabble and I might even start it as a hobby, let’s say, Yaro. I’m not going to cut that cord with my full-time income…
HEIDI: … just yet, what are the key things that I should be thinking about when I start my blog?
YARO: Well, your topic would be the first thing. You definitely want to do that research we talked about. Make sure you’re actually in a market where there is people spending money, assuming that you are doing it for a business at some point, and then, also really think, can you see yourself producing content on a regular basis about this subject? It’s not something where you can just spend one week writing a handful of articles and stop.
HEIDI: Do you ever get to the point where you think, “You know what? I really can’t bring myself to write one more topic about an Entrepreneur’s Journey.”
YARO: Yes, you do find yourself after ten years in particular, recycling a few ideas, that’s to say that, you know.
HEIDI: Oh, the truths coming out you know, Yaro.
YARO: it’s original for the time that I write it but, I might be saying, the fundamentals. The fundamentals in marketing don’t change so you talk about them. You just coin it for today’s world but, I’ve never had writer’s block. I never had that issue. If you’re living a life and you’re having experiences, you always have something to write about.
HEIDI: And, you coach people as well. So, if I’m in this position that I’m looking to start up and I want to get it right, first go and not take three years to generate income, how does your coaching service work?
YARO: Well, I have various options but mostly, I tell people to do what I just talked to you about so, that research to find out whether you have the market, and then doing something to actually see if they can get a customer.
I actually like my bloggers if they are experts, teachers, trainers, coaches, those types of people, you know, for example, if acne is your specialty, I have a client who helps women with acne, adult acne, so I would say to someone like that, first get some private coaching clients. Speak to them on the phone. Understand them better and then, once you’ve got that knowledge, you’ve got buyers, then start the blog, then start the email list then start producing content.
So, I guide people through all that process but step one is topic selection. We spend a lot of time getting that right to begin with.
HEIDI: Right, okay. And, I guess it’s a process of optimizing all the time, isn’t it? Going, “I’ll give this a go, let’s see how that works… Now, that didn’t work. Let me try something new.” Is that fair?
YARO: That is exactly right. It is a system. That’s a beautiful thing about blogging. You’re trying to get a certain number of people to your blog and a certain number of people to join your email list and then, a certain number of people to read the emails, open the emails, click the links in the emails to go to your products and services.
You can test at each of those levels to try and improve your results. And, if you treat it that way, it’s good because you don’t get emotionally involved with whether you’re successful or not. You just look at the test results. Is it working? Keep testing if it’s not.
HEIDI: And, certainly, I imagine that maintaining a database is key because that’s your potential clients and ability to market your messages through that database, is that clear?
YARO: My email list as my database, as you said. It is the heart of my business. My blog brings the audience to me. I couldn’t do the email list without the blog but the email list is a much better tool for directly communicating with people because we still pay more attention to email despite all the spam that we get. People spend more attention to their email everyday than any other platform. I check my email everyday. I’m pretty sure you do, too.
HEIDI: I check my email everyday.
HEIDI: Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you for sharing your story and Yaro, if anybody is interested in starting a blog, learning how to make money from their blog, they can visit EntrepreneursJourney.com?
YARO: Or, just google my name – Y-A-R-O.
HEIDI: Thanks for being on the show, Yaro.
YARO: Thank you for having me.