Everyone reads the articles about what you need to do to grow your blog. From “pillar content” to list posts to holding contests, there are a ton of ways you can increase your subscribers and pageviews on your blog as you strive to take your show full time. However, there are not as many articles that explain what you should not do on your blog before you have the traffic to support it.

Sometimes…there are certain aspects of your blog that can actually be detrimental to your success if you jump on the bandwagon too early in an attempt to jump the gun.

Top 7 Things NOT To Do

So here they are…the top 7 things not to do before you have a significant amount of traffic on your blog.

Run A Poll On Your Blog

1. Run A Poll

Polls are a great way to interact with your audience and get feedback related to subjects in your niche. However, as much as you wish your readers were holding on to every article you publish, that just isn’t reality. Not all of your readers are going to see the poll and…on top of that…even the ones that do see it aren’t guaranteed to participate. Do you really want a week old poll on your blog only showing 12 votes?

Social proof is a large part of blogging so you have to be careful about what you display on your pages. It is normally best to hold off on polls until you have at least 1,000 unique visitors a day in my opinion. Do you really think you are getting a great sampling in your niche if you are only getting 100 entries anyway? Probably not…

Starting A Forum On Your Blog

2. Start A Forum

Forums are incredibly hard to start even when you have a lot of traffic. When you do not have the traffic to support the launch, you will have to work that much harder to get an active community (contests are typically the best way). There is nothing more detrimental to a forum’s growth than silence. If you do have a plan for a forum in the future, look towards large traffic numbers and serious marketing planning to get it off the ground and running.

Bike198’s forum is running on IP.Board.

Displaying Blog RSS Count

3. Display Your Subscriber Count

Displaying your RSS subscriber count is a debate in which there are two sides. Personally, I display my subscriber count in certain circumstances where I see fit (you’ll notice it is not displayed on this blog), but if you are planning on displaying your count…I would wait until you have at least 500 subscribers. You are not doing yourself any favors by displaying your 47 loyal subscribers.

There will be some cases (like with this blog) where you might want to hold off on showing your subscriber count even if you have a lot more than that. It is up to you on whether or not that fits inot your plan, but displaying a number that is too low will actually hurt you in the beginning stages.

Wordpress Blog Design

4. Spend A Large Amount of Time On Blog Design

Until you have a lot of traffic on your blog, you do not really know how your readers are going to interact with your content. While you can guess and predict how your readers will interact and click through pages, spending a lot of time on design when you are trying to grow your audience is a waste of time. There are certain fundamental design elements that you need to have, but the most important aspect of your blog when you are trying to grow traffic is content and promotion.

9 times out of 10…you are going to find that your favorite design element that you are so proud of is worthless. I remember spending a lot of time on a newsletter opt-in form on my homepage only to find that the pop up hover was the source of 98% of my newsletter sign-ups. Spend your time where it counts the most and have a clean design that you can tweak over time as traffic increases and more readers interact with your content.

Need a good looking design? For out of the box themes we recommend Woothemes and WPZoom and this blog runs off of the Pagelines Platform Pro framework.

Go Full Time With Blogging

5. Go Full Time

Blogging is not a “get rich quick” method of making a living. It takes a lot of work over time to build enough of an audience to support a full time income. Most full time bloggers started their online empire while working a regular 9-5 at the same time. If you plan on walking in your boss’s office and quitting today because you found blogging, be prepared to be standing in the unemployment line. Only take your business full time when it can support the full time income.

Ideally, you want to bring in as much income for your household as possible, so you can do like I did and work both jobs as long as you possibly can. Two incomes are better than one right?!

Direct Advertising On Blogs

6. Solicit Direct Advertising From Large Companies

I am one of those bloggers that fully supports and encourages monetizing your blog from day 1. However, it is also very important to remember where you stand in the blogosphere and adjust your money making methods accordingly. If you do not have a lot to offer in the form of traffic at this point in time, it is not a great idea to go after larger companies in your niche soliciting direct advertising spots…even if they are cheap. Larger companies have to show direct return for their investment and you are not prepared to deliver the results that requires.

On the flip side of that argument, partnering up with smaller companies in your niche is a great way to make a little bit of income and warm up your readers to the idea of direct ads on your site. It is all about knowing how your traffic levels affect success rates in direct advertising promotions.

When you are ready, check out OIOPublisher to auto rotate and handle direct advertising payments.

Email Newsletters

7. Ignore The Need To Start Building A Newsletter

If there was one thing I would do over again in my blogging, it would be starting my email newsletter from day 1 instead of down the road when I felt like I had enough traffic to justify the cost. My newsletters on my blogs is the #1 revenue and traffic generator and they also happen to be my readers most valuable option on my blogs. If you want to capture your readers and keep them for the long haul, an email newsletter is essential to success.

I use Aweber for my newsletters and I would recommend going that route as their start-up plans are wicked cheap (can you afford $1?).

Ready To Rock It Out?

Sometimes the strongest asset we can have is knowing what not to do. It is up to you to spend your time wisely and create assets that grow your business instead of constricting it.

Today’s interview is with a highly successful blogger and business builder Michael Martine. Michael is the brain behind Remarkablogger.com where he blogs and helps businesses become successful in social media. Michael is known throughout the industry for increasing bottom lines and his work with the highly successful Headway Theme for WordPress. Through all of his consulting work, Michael has some great insight into the blogosphere…so let’s jump into it.


Robb: Hey, guys. It’s Robb Sutton from RobbSutton.com.  On the phone today I’ve got Michael Martine, who’s behind www.RemarkABlogger.com and Headway WordPress themes. Thanks for being on today, Michael.

Michael: Thanks for having me.

Robb: We might as well just go ahead and jump right into it. How did you get started blogging?

Michael: Let’s see, back in 1994 I had already been interested in web design and HTML. Even when I was a kid I had an interest in marketing, advertising and packaging and stuff like that. Those two things kind of came together with internet marketing and blogging and stuff like that.

The first blog that I created was a video blog actually, back when Google video was brand new and it was the only video thing out there on the web and they didn’t have the ability to embed anything yet. It was kind of a tough slog. The only reason why I could do it is because I already knew HTML. That was fun. It was the first blog that I had.

I started blogging back in 1999, and basically have been doing it in some form or another ever since. I started the business around it in 2007.

Robb: So you really just kind of progressed into it naturally?

Michael: Yeah. I mean there wasn’t much going on in the way of blogging really before 1999. There were people who were doing some things that were similar without using any real blog software. There was very little of that back then.

I remember Chris Brogan was saying how he was doing something similar in 1998, when it was called journaling.

Robb: Right. There was no such thing as WordPress. It was a lot harder to do it back then.

Michael: Yeah. I started on Blogger actually, before Google bought them. They were owned by this little company called Pyra Labs that was run by Evan Williams, who you may also know as the guy who is running Twitter now.

Robb: Absolutely. He’s had a pretty successful career.

Michael: Yeah. He had a little faltering in the middle there with a project called Odeo that revolved around podcasting, but Blogger was a hit and Twitter was a hit. The sophomore year was kind of lame for him, but he’s doing good now.

Robb: Yeah. He’s killing it. You’re known a lot for your blogging consulting work on RemarkABlogger.com. When did you start that project, and what was the idea that kind of sprung it into action?

Michael: I started that back in 2007. The idea was actually a pretty simple one. It was basically, “How can I make money helping people do something that is valuable to them and that I know something about?” There’s only so many ways to swing products and services around that idea. Consulting was a natural fit.

I also started to create training information products around that as well. It’s all related around that, a little package there.

Robb: Yeah. You do a great job at it.

Michael: Thanks.

Robb: You make a great living consulting businesses and bloggers on blogging. What is the most common mistake you see most bloggers make?

Michael: Really, it’s not really knowing who their audience is and what the specific problem they solve for the audience, which you know.

Robb: If there is such a thing, what three actions can any blogger make to improve their blog starting today?

Michael: Three things you can do? None of these are terribly easy, but they all would be huge steps in the right direction.

  1. Figure out exactly who your target audience is, I mean down to a very, very fine slice. “Anybody with a wallet,” that doesn’t count.
  2. Figure out exactly what problem you solve for them, and then write about that. That intersection between the people and the problem is where all the magic happens.
  3. Inject as much personality into it as you possibly can. The more you can relate your own personal stories and that sort of thing and turn things that happen in real life into a lesson and bring your own personality into it, the better.

Those are the three big things right there.

Robb: I’ve heard you talk about that a lot, and I talk about it as well, almost mapping out who that exact person is who you want reading your blog, who you want to convert into newsletter subscribers or RSS readers.

How would you recommend going and finding those people out on the web that you want to bring back on your blog and how would you attract them in?

A lot of beginning bloggers don’t have the ability to have really good search engine rankings or even have a really good presence online to poll from. How would those bloggers actually go out and find these people?

Michael: Well, it’s a lot easier if you’re not a blogger, if you’re a business person. Here’s the thing. The people that I help are not bloggers, they’re business owners. They already have a business. Their business is already targeting a market. It’s already got a product or a service that they’re selling. What they need to do is try to figure out how to attract them using a blog.

Starting with the blog first and then trying to figure out what kind of business you have is kind of doing it backwards. I realize that’s how a lot of people do it, and those people are certainly welcome to come to my site and read my stuff and buy my things.

I’m not going to turn them away, but my primary audience is essentially business owners and business people – small business owners, small businesses, one person businesses, other coaches and consultants, freelancers, that sort of thing.

These people already have a business, they just need to figure out how to market it. A blog is one of the tools that they’re using for that.

Now the reason why I’m stressing this is because if you are doing it the other way around, if you’ve already got a blog but you don’t really have a business for that, then now you know where to start, what part is missing. It’s the business part.

You can’t really have a business unless you identify your market and know who you’re selling to and know what problem you solve for them. Instead of thinking of it in terms of having a blog, think of it in terms of having a business.

The way that you can figure out who these people are is to take a look at what you have to offer and then look to see who needs that.

Robb: I do think that one of the biggest mistakes that people make who want to get into making money online through blogging is that they forget that key factor is that you have to have some kind of business backing to it.

Just writing and expecting people to come, and even if you have sometimes a lot of people coming to your site, it could not convert into dollars, because you haven’t thought about how you’re actually going to convert that into some kind of viable business over time.

Michael: Exactly. The biggest mistake people make when they’re trying to make money online is that they’re trying to make money online. It’s that old joke, “Well, if you want money, go rob a bank.”

Robb: That’s true. Purely your words don’t, unless you’re selling a book or you’re selling something that’s of value. Just your words and just playing online doesn’t make you any money at all.

Michael: No, certainly not. And really my point is, though, money is not the goal. It’s not the object. Money is a side effect.

Robb: Right. It’s the side effect of solving the problems of the people you’re trying to help.

Michael: Yeah. The goal is to do something that provides value for people and that’s fulfilling and that you enjoy doing. If you wanted to do stuff you hate, why don’t you just get a real job?

Robb: Isn’t that the truth.

Michael: Yeah. Well, actually, no. Never mind. Scratch that, because there aren’t any anymore.

Robb: At least none that are hiring, right?

Michael: Yeah. You might as well start an online business.

Robb: Since we’ve been talking about businesses a lot. I’m seeing a lot of businesses kind of jump into the social media atmosphere and jump into blogging as ways to find free leads for their business in a way that used to cost a lot of money in the past.

For a lot of people that don’t realize this, lead generation for businesses used to be a very expensive thing to do throughout the year. By using blogging, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, they’re able to attract their audience a lot cheaper than they were able to in the past.

What difficulties do you see for businesses as they try to get into blogging and social media to kind of increase their spread on the web and attract more clients?

Michael: Well, the numbers are a little bit fuzzier. You’re right. It is a lot cheaper in terms of the financial investment, but now all you have is the time and labor investment that you didn’t really have before.

I guess in some ways you did. It just depends on how you spend your money. You’re buying labor one way or the other, regardless whether you’re paying for a sales force to do cold calling or whether you’re buying advertising, either way.

The effort that goes into it, it doesn’t seem like there’s as big of a return or that it’s as traceable of a return for everything you put into it.

But you can track it just like anything else. You’re doing X, Y and Z, and if that makes the needles groove, then you’re doing it right. If you’re doing X, Y and Z and nothing’s happening, then you’re doing it wrong.

Robb: Right. I like to equate it to like you see the billboards on the side of highways. You’re going after a much more targeted audience in your attack online than you are just flooding the market and trying to just see whatever catches.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, they’ve come up with the term “inbound marketing” for this whole phenomenon. In the old days it was push, push, push. You had advertising and you shoved it in people’s faces. You had cold calling and you shoved it in their ear.

Now it’s all basically when people want something they go online and search for it. That’s where search comes in. People have always followed referrals and they’ve always done word of mouth.

That happens online too. Only now, one of your referral tools is a high rank.

Robb: Right. It almost creates a pre-qualified lead for you that converts higher if you’ve done it right.

Michael: Exactly. I mean, there’s no almost about it. That’s exactly it.

Robb: While we’re on the subject of social media a little bit, how do you see social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter play into your recommendations on what businesses and bloggers need to do to grow their businesses?

Michael: Well, if you think of a hub and spoke system, your blog is the hub and social media outlets are the spokes. So you’ve got Twitter, Facebook, whatever else, and there’s different networks and services and sites and wherever.

Some of them are related to specific industries. Some of them are related to specific demographic groups of people. There are tons of them out there. We all know what the big ones are: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn.

Depending on what part of the world you’re from, there are some other ones too: Bebo, Orkut, etc.

What these do is they basically send traffic back to the blog. That’s the main deal. When you’re looking at this from a marketing perspective, that’s the main deal.

Robb: It’s funny. Those people hang out and are focusing their efforts in the right direction instead of just trying everything at once.

Michael: Right, exactly. The tricky part is knowing where to focus any of your energy at all to begin with. This is where getting some training or getting some education or getting some help on just the general landscape by somebody who’s been there, done that can be really, really helpful and can help you absorb a lot of collateral damage as you get started.

Robb: It shortens the learning curve.

Michael: Right, totally.

Robb: All right. Switching gears a little bit, you’re behind the Headway theme for WordPress. What started that project, and can you tell us a little bit about that background?

Michael: Yeah. I’m one of the guys that helps out on Headway. That began because Clay Griffiths basically wanted something to help him design WordPress sites faster. He and his Dad ran G2WebMedia.com, and they still run it. They would do WordPress blog designs for clients.

He was just doing so many of them and had a lot of repetition of what he was doing. The kid’s a genius programmer. He basically put together this system for creating kind of a visual editor, kind of a drag and drop general visual editing type of software that became a theme framework.

He was using it himself. He created it just because he needed it and he would use it himself. They would use it to create sites for their clients. Then one day he was like, “Hey, we should sell this thing.”

Premium themes are a good business to get into, and so he and Grant brought me onboard and I’m helping them out with the marketing and the positioning and with the creation of documentation for it and so forth.

We’re just about on the verge of releasing 1.6 and we’ll have some new documentation that goes along with that. There’s a lot of video tutorials. It’s really just a phenomenon that we didn’t really expect it to be this big of a thing. All of a sudden there was Thesis and then now there’s Thesis and Headway.

Robb: Yeah, it is.

Michael: They’re different too, by the way, Headway and Thesis. They’re really just two different themes kind of geared towards two different kinds of people. Everybody wants to know which one’s better.

The truth is neither one’s better and neither one’s worse. They have their very different strengths and weaknesses. They’re totally like apples and oranges. If one doesn’t appeal to you, I’m sure the other one will.

Robb: I’ve used both of them on the back end before. It’s a different feel between the two. It really can be meshed towards two different people.

Who would you consider the best customer for Headway?

Michael: The best person to use Headway is somebody who understands how to work with software and understands the web, but doesn’t necessarily want to spend a whole lot of time writing code. They might even actually know the code, but a lot of people don’t.

For example, professional designers, they already know all this stuff, but their problem is that why should they spend all this time writing all the code by hand when they could work in a visual environment that spits out code a lot faster?

For people who don’t want to write code, then you’ve got a visual environment that allows them to design and create their own theme, basically, is really what it does.

Create your own theme and change anything you want about it, without having to write code and put an asterisk by that and saying everybody who’s going to be doing this sort of thing themselves in this day and age still pretty much needs to know a little bit of HTML, but that’s about it.

Robb: You need to know how to open up CSS and make a couple edits.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, like you would need to be able to recognize a hyperlink or something like that if you saw it in HTML or whatever, because not all the fields that you enter stuff in there, whatever you put in there, you might want to put some HTML in there to format it a little bit better.

If you want paragraph breaks in there or you want to put a list in there or whatever, you might need to throw some HTML in there, but for the most part there’s no coding necessary. People really like that.

Robb: Yeah, and I’ve used the drag and drop visualizer before, and it works exactly like you guys say it does. I mean, you literally just take stuff, drag it, drop it, what size do you want it? It works as easy as it does in the training videos.

Michael: Yeah. It’s like visual blog design software and you just add it into your blog. It’s way more than just a theme. I was really happy to work with them on that.

Robb: It was a good project. What are we looking forward to in 1.6?

Michael: Live CSS editing, importing and exporting of CSS and skins, and just faster, much faster. Every time Clay comes out with a new version, he’s got the code a lot more tightly optimized so that it just runs a lot faster.

Robb: So where do you see blogging in the next year, the next five years, next 10 years? How do you see it progressing as it matures, since blogging is really kind of a young thing in the internet world. It has a long way to go in a lot of ways. Where do you see it heading?

Michael: That’s a tough question, because think about all the predictions people made before 2006. Then as soon as Twitter came on the scene, everybody’s predictions were basically just flat out wrong. Nobody foresaw Twitter and it changed everything, right?

Robb: Right.

Michael: And the same thing for Facebook, pre-Facebook. How’s blogging going to mature? I have no idea. I know that I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’re just barely getting started.

Robb: Oh, yeah. We’re at the very beginning of something, we’re just not sure what sometimes.

Michael: Yeah. We’re in for a fun ride. Alvin Toffle is the guy who wrote Future Shock, actually many years ago by this point. It’s still a fantastic book, and if you haven’t read it, anybody listening, if they haven’t read it they really should.

One of the things he said was the most important skill that we’ll need in the future is the ability to learn and then unlearn and then relearn.

Robb: That’s a great line.

Michael: That’ll pretty much give you the ability to handle anything that comes your way.

Robb: If you weren’t making a living online today, what would you be doing?

Michael: Probably sleeping a lot more.

Robb: There’s a lot of truth to that!

Michael: Yeah. That’s a good question. I don’t know. I might be writing in some capacity. One of the reasons why I’m doing this is writing’s always been a natural thing for me, and I’ve always enjoyed it and been a writer. So now I write online. I probably will soon be looking at doing books and stuff as well, so yeah, probably something around writing.

Robb: What do you drive?

Michael: What do I drive? Right now I’m driving a ’98 Saab 900S.

Robb: Your favorite food?

Michael: Macaroni and cheese.

Robb: Good one. I think I can eat my weight in macaroni and cheese.

Favorite drink?

Michael: Root beer.

Robb: No kidding? It’s been awhile since I’ve had a root beer. Favorite thing to do away from the keyboard?

Michael: Favorite thing to do away from the keyboard is spend time with my granddaughter.

Robb: What can we expect out of you in the next year?

Michael: Some new training products coming out. I’ve got a group blog coaching program coming out soon. A couple of other things, some specialty products, for example, just for retailers and just for artists.

Robb: Where all can we find you online?

Michael: You can find me at RemarkABlogger.com, and also if anybody’s interested, I created a course on how to get more traffic to your blog, which is at BlogTrafficFisher.com. I almost sold it, but I decided at the last minute to let everybody have it for free.

I was going to charge at least like $50 for it, but decided to give it away instead. So you can find that at BlogTrafficFisher.com. You can sign up for that and get more traffic to your blog. Those are the main places that you’ll find me online.

If you’re on Twitter, then my handle on Twitter is @RemarkABlogger.

Robb: Awesome. Michael, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. There’s a lot of great information in there about growing your blog and your business. Thanks again for taking the time.

Michael: Thanks so much for asking me to be on. I really appreciate it.

Learn more about the Headway WordPress theme by clicking here.

Michael Dunlop has had a massive amount of success online with Income Diary and Retire at 21. This young, online entrepreneur has also interviewed some of the best in the business, so his unique perspective on blogging and making money online is based off of numerous success stories and high profile workshops.

Having started this process at the young age of 16, this 21 year entrepreneur is setting the online world on fire and in this interview…we go into the how and why of the different aspects of his business.


Robb: Hey guys. It’s Robb Sutton from RobbSutton.com.   On the phone today, I’ve got Michael Dunlop from IncomeDiary.com and RetireAt21.com.  How are you doing today?

Michael: I’m doing great, Robb. It’s great to be here and I’m excited about sharing some great advice and sharing my story.

Robb: Awesome. I really appreciate you taking the time out today to talk to me and for our readers and everyone else. Why don’t we just go ahead and jump right in it. In the beginning, why didd you start blogging?

Michael: Because I wanted money. I sort of got into it by accident. At the time I didn’t know it was blogging. It just made sense to have a CMS, and it basically got programmed to build what we know today as a blogging platform.

It went well. I was probably about 15 or so. After doing other stuff online, it just seemed to be an easier way to make money than all the stresses with other ideas like selling an actual product, which can be time consuming.

Robb: Definitely. You started this process at a pretty young age of 15, 16 with RetireAt21. How long was it before you saw real results both as kind of a progression with subscribers and monetarily with that blog?

Michael: When did I see a good result? I think it’s when I sort of changed how I delivered my content. I saw a great response right at the beginning.

My first site was actually WebDesignDev before Retire At 21. Then when Retire At 21 actually came around I sort of placed aside WebDesignDev and then later re-did it. It’s a long story, but to keep it short, that’s what I’m going to say.

With WebDesignDev, what I did was I did the whole tutorial scene. Delivering step-by-step tutorials is great, because it can clearly show someone how to do something, unlike just giving them a general idea.

I got some great results with that, but with Retire At 21, it was a sort of niche that thousands of other people were in and they were doing this whole, “I’m going to teach you how to make money.”

I don’t really find it great learning from someone who generally isn’t making that much money. I don’t really like to learn from those people, and so I wasn’t really doing very well, because that’s generally what I was doing. I was just pretty much doing what everyone else was doing.

So I basically thought, “Hey, so why don’t I interview all the people that are doing really well, and then I will actually have authority content and it will be actually, genuinely good advice.”

Robb: Right.

Michael: So once I started doing that, that was really cool. It sort of opened me up to have some great contacts. It’s sort of by mistake. You just want to interview them, because you want to find out more about them, but you sort of have a connection after that.

After that you can ask them to do other things with you. Like when I interviewed you. We obviously knew more about each other once we interviewed each other.

Robb: Right.

Michael: You can do a guest post, and we’ve connected a couple times after that as well, and stuff like that. It’s sort of just a great way to connect with other entrepreneurs.

Robb: Yes, that brings up a lot of opportunities for the future as well.

Michael: Yeah, great ones, and especially if you plan to bring out product and want affiliates. It’s much easier to ask for someone to sell your product once you already know them.

Another thing I did was start doing lists. I first did this with Retire At 21, and at the time I was getting 1,000 visitors a day. I did my first Top List and it was Top Earning Young Entrepreneurs and how much they were worth.

It wasn’t actually even finished, somehow it got leaked, and that day it got over 50,000 visitors. It just kept growing from there. I think it was just the sort of way we start seeing results and seeing like what I was doing was just changing my approach to how I altered my content.

Robb: What advice would you give young entrepreneurs looking to make an income online?

Michael: Start. I think that’s it. It’s something, probably a lot of people will tell you that. It’s just like do it, because so many people don’t actually start and that’s pretty much the main reason people fail.

Apart from that, I just re-emphasize the whole fact about delivering what you’re doing, to deliver it in a different way. If everyone’s writing the exact same thing, then there’s no reason why they should go to you over other people. When you deliver your content in a different way, it sort of gives them more of a reason to go and see.

Robb: At what point in your blogging did something change? When I talk to a lot of bloggers they say, “There was this point in time where I knew something had changed,” and it started to be more of a faster progression, I guess you could say.

Is there a point in your blogging that you can look back on? A day or a period of time where you knew something had just gotten over that plateau and you were really getting into successful blogging?

Michael: Yeah. It was probably the day I launched Income Diary. Basically, when I started Income Diary, I came up with the idea about a week before and spent about two days just installing the blog and finding someone to interview for it.

It was really nothing impressive. I just put it together. It was the fact that the way I monetized the site changed my blogging forever. If you can make a lot more money from it, it means you can do so many other things with your blog.

Generally if you’re not making much money, you can’t afford to do great advertising, you can’t get a great theme, you can’t all these other things. I wasn’t selling advertising space or sell Google AdSense. That stuff just doesn’t work.

It works, but it doesn’t work on the level other things can work for you. Instead of making $1,000 a month, I found out potentially how to make $10,000 a month and up. Obviously, once you can do that it’s a game changer.

Robb: Well, since you brought it up, Income Diary has been kind of a really huge hit online with not only bloggers, but other entrepreneurs. When did you actually come up with the idea and what was your inspiration behind IncomeDiary.com?

Michael: Basically, I had all these people coming to me saying, “How do I create a website? How do I create a blog? How do I make money online?”

At the time, I had a really basic guide on Retire At 21 showing them this is how to sort this out on the website. It was really bad. It was just basically saying, “Buy a domain. Buy hosting,” and then anything else I could think of to sell them. It just wasn’t well thought out.

So I thought, “Hey, what’s the best way to deliver this content, because I need to build my email list, so why don’t I start an e-course?”

Basically, I knew I had to deliver this thing. Retire At 21 had so many bugs and errors, and it’s starting to be a 13 year old program. That’s really not a great way to start a website. I just thought, let’s start with a new site.

I love building things. I’m not so much one for keeping something going or maintaining something. I like to be inventive. I was like really pumped up doing that. I just started thinking I have this domain, IncomeDiary.com, which I bought off a guy called Tom. I paid $100 for it.

I thought, “Hey, this is great. I can start putting things together.” I thought to put out an e-course and it went really well. I actually heard recently a great quote and it was by Stewart Wild.  I don’t know it exactly, but the gist of it is, “Find a problem, create a solution, and then build them.”

That was pretty much what I did with my e-course. I found a problem. Everyone wanted to create a website and didn’t know how to. I created a solution and then built them. I built in monetization strategy, pretty much an affiliate-based one, and it worked. So that’s sort of the principle I went with.

Robb: We’ve talked about this before, but IncomeDiary.com uses this theory that you refer to as “No leakage.” There are other online entrepreneurs that use this same theory. Would you like to go into that concept further and how it pertains to blogging?

Michael: Yes. It’s really important. Basically, so many people – and I’m not saying it’s wrong, just if you want to make more money it’s something you have to do. Typically people will have a blog roll. It’s what every blog comes with.

Well, the idea of having links to other sites and not getting paid for it means you’re not going to make as much money, because your readers will go to their blog instead of clicking your ads or clicking your affiliate links or signing up for your newsletter.

You want to basically get down the amount of ways that people can get out of your site without making you money or signing up for your list. That can be done in loads of ways.

I started just playing with Crazy Egg, which is some software that basically tells you where people are clicking and what’s happening. You can see what does work and what doesn’t work.

If people aren’t opting into this list, if people aren’t clicking these affiliate links, why aren’t they? Maybe you add a picture next to them. What I did was I added a green stop sign, which seemed to go from no clicks on the affiliate link to about 15 a day. It made a huge difference there.

Basically, you want to get them onto your list. That’s pretty much the main idea, because once they’re on your list, they’re with you as long as you provide something to them.

You don’t want them to leave your site without making you money. You want to get down all the links. You want to get down all the potential ways to get out of the site, even advertisers. If people advertise on your site, that must mean they’re getting a big enough return.

Typically, people advertise on your site to promote an affiliate offer. If it works for them, then it should work for you if you promote stats or an alert or stuff like that. It’s always best to go with the affiliate group. That’s what I found.

Robb: Over the course of Income Diary’s lifespan, you’ve had the chance to interview a lot of entrepreneurs and people who are making money online.

With this diverse crowd of successful individuals, are there any common themes that you seem to see repeat themselves regardless of their business model or niche?

Michael: Yeah. Typically most of them, about 95% of them, work really hard. Something that people don’t see enough in our industry is that you have to work hard, because you can get quite a bit of success without too much, but to really take that to a whole new level, you have to sort of dig in and get working really, really hard.

Another thing is to have a lot of fun. You sort of burn out if you don’t have a good balance of business and pleasure. They enjoy what they’re doing. They’re passionate about it. If you’re not passionate, you couldn’t bring that across in what you’re doing. I think that sort of sums up entrepreneurs that are successful.

Robb: A lot of bloggers look to interviews and podcasts as a way to expand the offerings on their blog. What advice do you have with bloggers that are nervous about this transition and how to get started actually interviewing people in their topic?

Michael: The first thing is you need to get some interviewees. When I started, I didn’t really know how to go about it. I just basically started emailing them. It actually was quite successful.

A lot of people, especially entrepreneurs, they want to give back. They like helping people, because to get to where they are today, usually someone’s helped them.

Usually with a lot of people, they just like talking about themselves. They like to be interviewed just because it makes them feel good about themselves. I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get some of the higher level people you’d like to interview.

The most important thing is really your email you send to them. You want to make sure it applies and it’s attractive to them. Tell them that you know who they are.

One big flaw I see with people asking me for an interview is they don’t make it feel personal.  If we’re doing something for you, we don’t want to know that you sent the same email to 100 other people. Always remember to say, “Hello, Michael,” to mention my websites, or to mention something about it to make sure I know.

What I do in my email is I’m like, “I’m very impressed with your speech at this seminar, or your new addition to your site,” or something just to make it personal and to make them feel good about themselves.

Then tell them what’s in it for them.  Potentially, if you’ve got 1,000 visitors a day or something, you’re one of the biggest sites in golf or something, you want to emphasize that. That always helps.

Once you’ve got the interview, it can be done two ways. It could be done over the email, and probably my first 100 interviews were over email. Once you say email or phone, you get a lot more people to accept your interview, because they don’t really want to go off and type all this stuff up for you.

I like audio best, because you can get it transcribed and then people can either have it as audio or as a transcript in text. To record it, I use Pamela for Skype. You use Cool Recorder, don’t you?

Robb: Right. It’s a Mac only program.

Michael: Yeah. So to record you can do that. Then once you’ve got it recorded there’s loads of plug-ins for WordPress to get it out. I can’t actually remember which one I’m using, but just go to WordPress.org, I think.

Robb: I think I use PodPress, just like I am on my sites. That seems to work.

Michael: No. I used to use PodPress, and I won’t. Something went wrong with it, so I moved over to what I think it’s just called PodCasting, which is really annoying, because when you’re trying to Google it, you know, PodCasting WordPress blogging, it brings up all the other plug-ins, which doesn’t really work.

And too, some of you may want to transcribe your interview. I know you have a transcriber, Robb. I use a service called CastingWords.com. They’re generally quite cheap.

They go from about $.75 a minute to $2.50 a minute, depending on how quickly you want it. The quickest is 24 hours, and if you want it within two weeks, they do it real cheap. That’s a great way to get it transcribed.

Transcribing it is well worth it, because you can have great SEO power. All this text for the search engines does wonders for your blog.

I rank first page for so many of my interviewees, and that’s something not done too easily. I have to tell you that. Like for example, Ryan Deiss, he’s one of the biggest information marketers on the internet. He brings out products, a dozen a year or something. He’s a big guy.

I can rank first page for him, just because I interviewed him. They’ve got some great content, lots of it, thousands of words, and they’ve got all these links to it and it works really well.

That’s good, because if you interview someone in your niche, for example, Ryan Deiss, when people go to buy a product from Ryan, they’ll go to my site first, because they want to find out about him.

Then I can promote his product in the interview, so hopefully they’ll go and buy it through me. It’s a great way to pick up affiliate commissions as well.

Robb: What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

Michael: Just the fact that it’s on my terms. I get to do what I like, when I like. Some days I can work hard, some days I can work not so hard. Typically there will be a passive income element to it, so even if I don’t work for a week, I will still make a great income.

Obviously, that will start going down after a couple weeks. Say you were making like $10,000 a month and you stop working. It’s not going to go down to zero, but it will probably go down to a certain number and then stay there, because Google can only send you so much a day.

When you’re posting every day, you’ve got loads of more traffic coming in, because you’ve got your RSS feed and you’ve got your Twitter and you’ve got a buzz going. The second you lose that buzz, you’re going to go down a few notches, but you’re not going to go down at all.

Like I always will have a couple thousand visitors a day just from Google and people discovering my content. I don’t worry about that too much.

Robb: If you had one piece of advice for new bloggers looking to make an income online, what would it be?

Michael: Affiliate marketing. It’s hard really, because there’s a lot of mistakes to make and it could be done so easily. Really to get traffic all you need is good content. With good content they will find your site and Google will index you. People will share it on social networks. That’s pretty much all you have to do.

Once you’ve got traffic, you’ve got to monetize it. Typically with banner ads especially, it can be a slow process if you’re new to blogging, because your blog’s new. People are like, “Hey, it’s new. I don’t know if it’s got traffic yet. I don’t know if I should buy it.”

They can’t see anything strong. The blog isn’t strong yet. So with affiliate income, your first visitor can make you money, if you convert them. Now I’m sure most people know affiliate marketing is basically you get paid for sending a sale to someone.

Robb: You get a commission off of each.

Michael: Yeah, you get a commission. I think that’s the most important thing for a new blogger is probably working out what angle they’re approaching their niche with. There are some things that you’ll never make money with, and it’s surprising how many people go into those niches.

There are not many niches, but the angle or just sort of approach to it, it just doesn’t make money. It’s like you can’t have a blog or a business about how you love bottled water or something, because there’s never going to be enough people to share that passion, to share that interest, to actually make money.

You don’t want to go for something too broad, but you want to go for something that you’re going to have scope with, so you can grow the business. It’s not going to be just something small.

Robb: There has to be a market there to make it work.

Michael: Exactly.

Robb: If you have one product or coaching program outside of anything you have that you would recommend, what would it be?

Michael: I’m a big believer in workshops and seminars. I haven’t really bought many products, but I have been to quite a few seminars.

I’d highly recommend Ryan Lee’s Continuity Seminar and Yanik Silver’s Underground event. I have to say Yanik’s, because I’ve been to his five times. It’s pretty much been my education. Instead of going to college and going to learn like everyone else does, I’ve gone to his seminar once a year and that’s all the education I need. I think you can learn a lot more there than you can by buying a product. You get so many different speakers.

And it’s not just that, it’s the contacts you pick up. You get so much time to network and you meet so many other entrepreneurs that can really help you grow your business.

Robb: Your favorite food?

Michael: Favorite food? Roast chicken.

Robb: Favorite drink?

Michael: Orange juice.

Robb: Your favorite thing to do away from the keyboard?

Michael: I’m sure a lot of people probably think Xbox for me, because I go on about it quite a lot over at Twitter and Facebook, and when I see people in general. I think I like sports in general. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s something active and blood pumping. So just sports in general, really.

Robb: Who inspires you the most?

Michael: I really don’t know. I think it’s just my competition, probably, because I’m quite competitive. When I see competition do something, I’m inspired to really get up, stand up and do something to make sure I can make them say, “Damn it, Michael’s done something cool again.”

People love a power game, so I know it’s a weird answer to get to say your competition, but they’re the guys that make me want to up my game constantly. I like being top dog really.

Robb: The friendly competition that keeps on making quality better, right?

Michael: Yeah. I mean, don’t think for a minute, anyone listening to this, that I don’t like them, or that we’re not really competition. I’m not saying like they’re nothing. Between a lot of us, we help each other on good terms.

Robb: Right. If you were not blogging today, what do you think you’d be doing?

Michael: I know that I’d have to do something entrepreneurial, because I failed pretty much on my exams and there’s no way I’d go into working minimum wage for somebody. I don’t know. Before I started blogging I was buying and selling stuff, you know, buy low, sell high.

I’d be doing something like that. I may have to start small like a market store, but I know probably by now if I did start it at the same time as my blogging, I’d have a shop, if not a chain of shops.

Robb: If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

Michael: Yeah, there’s a lot. Obviously I appreciate the mistakes I made, because it makes you a better person and a better blogger, but there are so many things that would have just saved time.

A lot of people will get quotes for design work or coding or hosting, and they compare prices instead of comparing what you’re really getting.

It’s not really price I look for anymore. You know how it’s worth spending more money to get a better job done? That’s come across in design work, coding and hosting – very much with hosting.

When you start, you want to cut all the costs that you can. I had to buy my first server and realistically, the server that I’m on now is like $400, and I think I got my server for about $30 or $40 a month.

That was a nightmare. They were sort of cowboys. They ran their business like they really didn’t care about their customers. They just wanted the money there and then.

They pretty much screwed me over and I lost the site because of it. I wouldn’t worry so much about how much something cost me, because essentially with the money I invested I made the return.

Robb: I had that same situation happen one time right before a launch and their servers went down for two days. That day after it came back up, I swapped everything and went for quality over price and never looked back. It’s night and day difference when you re-invest back into your business instead of just trying to pull all the money out of it.

Michael: Yeah. Don’t think for a minute that you could not keep investing in your business. I was looking at my accounts for January and I think there was a little minor $20, I think that’s all I really invested in new things, but some months it’s a whole month’s earnings that I would invest into new ideas and new concepts.

You have to constantly be re-investing and upping your game in new things, because that’s the only way you’re going to make more money and up your game. In my opinion, it’s the most fun thing in taking the risks and seeing the rewards.

Robb: Absolutely. 2010’s going to be a pretty big year for successful blogging. What can we expect to see out of you in the next calendar year?

Michael: I’ve got my own – not sure it’s going to be just blogging – but a product on basically how what I’ve done what I’ve done in the last year and how you can follow suit and the exact system I’ve done.

Apart from that, I plan to keep blogging and enjoying life. I’m moving out in two weeks time. I just want to explore life, enjoy it, and work hard while I’m young.

A quote that stuck with me is, “Entrepreneurship is about living a few years of your life like most won’t, so you can live the rest of your life like most can’t,” which basically means, work really hard now and you won’t have to work for the rest of your life.

That’s pretty much how I want to keep blogging. I want to get it done now and not look back and think, “If I worked harder…” and stuff like that. We’ve got such a great opportunity right in front of us. This is the time where a lot of money could be made for everyone, even if you’re starting today.

Look at IncomeDiary.com. It’s not even a year old and within a couple months of launching it was one of the biggest blogs in making money online. It had its first 100,000 visitors in its first month. It took me like a day or two to set up.

It’s something everyone can be doing. It doesn’t have to be blogging, it can be doing anything, but at least make that effort to start and keep at it.

Robb: Yeah, you always talk to those people who had great ideas that they never started.It’s going to be the next big thing, you just wait and see,” and they never even take the first step.

Michael: Right. Usually, it could have been a good thing. What I’d say is don’t live with regret, and regret usually comes when you don’t do something. Just do something. Do it. Take a leaf out of Nike’s book.

Robb: That’s about all I’ve got. Anything you want to add before we wrap this up?

Michael: No, not particularly. I just definitely re-emphasize the point just do it. I’ve known so many people that I’ve come across, I’ve known personally and people who come to my site, and not enough people go off and take action.

Just say you make $1,000 a month. You’ll appreciate your life a lot more just having that flexibility, because perhaps you don’t have to work as hard or you can take a trip with your wife, or you can do other things. I think once you get going you will really appreciate it.

Robb: Thanks, Mike, for taking the time to talk with us today.

Michael: No probably at all, Robb. I enjoyed it and I hope to see you soon.

Robb: Absolutely.

Follow Michael On: Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and Linkedin


In this interview on RobbSutton.com, I am talking to David Risley of PCMECH and DavidRisley.com. David has been making six figures from his blogging for years, so throughout this interview, we talk about what it takes to have a successful blog. We also touch on various blogging subjects like making money blogging outside of the MMO, blogging niche and how that is actually where most money is made online. David has a very business, planned approach to blogging and this has brought him a lot of success over the years, so take a read (or listen) through the interview and soak up some blogging and monetization content that you can apply to your blogging and start seeing positive results today.


Robb: Hey guys, it’s Robb Sutton from RobbSutton.com. On the phone today I’ve got David Risley of PCMech.com and DavidRisley.com, the Confessions of a Pro Six-Figure Blogger.

How you doing today, David?

David: Pretty good, how about you?

Robb: Good! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.

I guess we’ll just go ahead and jump straight into it. What got you started off in blogging?

David: It’s kind of a funny story. It was indirectly, because back when I started doing this, the word ‘blog’ didn’t even exist yet, but what really got me started in this whole website thing was actually an article in Yahoo Internet Life, which is now out of circulation. It was a magazine back then about how to build a website in 20 minutes or less.

I was like, “This sounds kind of cool,” so I just gave it a whirl, and obviously my first site looked like hell. But probably within a year or two of that I was already treating it kind of like a blog, even though it was a completely manual process, and then it developed from there.

Robb: Awesome. Your big money maker as far as off-blogging topics is PCMech.com. How long was it between your first post with PC Mech and when you were actually making a full-time income online?

David: I would say probably in the neighborhood of about three years. In fact, I just went through this when I was going through the Blog Masters Club launch. I actually went back in time in Quick Books and looked at income.

It looks like even back in 2002 I think I made just shy of about $60,000 in the business, so it was a full-time income at that point. Obviously I didn’t have much going on – no family or anything like that – so it was all good. So it was probably about three years, or a maximum of four.

Robb: I talk a lot about diversifying income streams to make a full-time income online and not relying on just one income stream as your full income. What would you say is your largest money earner on PC Mech, and what percentage of your total income does that equate to?

David: The biggest income earner on PC Mech is the membership site, PC Mech Premium. It’s probably pretty close to about 70% of the revenue now.

It used to be that the banner ads were the biggest revenue generator for me, but that’s just really changed lately. I think part of it’s the way the economy is shifting around, with a lot more competition so to speak in the tech blogosphere. It’s a very saturated market now online. There’s a lot of people doing it. You’ve got the Tech Crunches and stuff out there now, where when I started that didn’t exist.

So the banner ad revenue has dropped, and I’m also just not really pursuing banner ads that much. Most of the stuff I run advertising-wise on PC Mech is network stuff like Adsense and IDG and stuff like that, quite frankly because I’m pretty lazy about it and I just really don’t want to take the time to go out there and get direct sponsors. If they come to me, that’s great, but I just don’t feel like going out and getting them.

The good thing about the membership site is I’ve got full control over that. I don’t have to worry about somebody else’s budget. If I want to get more members, I just run a promotion.

Robb: A lot of people look for membership sites and that kind of stuff as a way to bring in 100% of their revenue stream. You put in all the work, but you get all the benefit of it.

When you were looking at setting up a membership site on PC Mech, how did you make the decision on how to structure it? Did you get input from your readers, or is it really just kind of an equation that you set up?

David: Not really. I was actually figuring out membership sites as I went. If I recall, back at the time I think I was actually going through some of the different parts of the Teaching Sells program that Brian Clark puts on with Copy Blogger. I think that’s where I started learning some of the basics of at least how they structured their membership site.

Now of course I started doing it the way that they did it, in that I was using a piece of software called Moodle for the actual content, and then using I think aMember. I’ve been using aMember from the beginning as far as the actual account management.

Now days I don’t use Moodle anymore. I just use WordPress, but I more or less just figured it out as I went.

Robb: What do you offer on your membership site that these guys are actually paying for?

David: It’s more or less premium-level content, stuff that does not show up on the blog itself. We’ve got a bunch more videos in there and we’ve got some full article series in there rather than the more or less daily hodgepodge that we have out on PC Mech. The stuff’s got more of a structure inside the membership system.

They also have a few perks on the forums, enhanced access on the forums, and things like that.

Robb: With over 250,000 people visiting PC Mech on a monthly basis, what would you say is your biggest contributing factor to generating that much traffic to your blog?

David: Probably being consistent with the content, and then of course that leads over into getting ranked with Google, which obviously is a big traffic magnet for us.

Now days I don’t do a heck of a lot of the writing for the site anymore. I actually have other people doing it for me, but one of the big criteria for me has always been to keep a consistent flow.

It’s also helped that I’ve got the forum. A lot of blogs don’t have a forum attached to it. I started the PC Mech forums way back in the early days, even before vBulletin existed. That brings back a repeat community.

Last time I looked it’s got over 40,000 members. Obviously they’re not all active, but they all have an account and it’s a good thing. There’s a big community around the domain.

Robb: I recently started a forum on Bike198.com and it’s a lot easier to start a forum once you have that core readership that will support the forum for you.

David: Oh, absolutely. That was a help for me. Starting a forum has a reputation for being extremely tough, because for the first people who get in there it’s just like crickets. There’s nothing going on, and then they take off. It’s just a vicious circle.

Some people have to resort to having fake conversations with themselves and stuff that just makes me feel like a douche to even try. The lucky thing is I didn’t have to do any of that.

Robb: I think there’s a misconception online that the only way to make money online is to blog about blogging, or blog about making money online, which really couldn’t be farther from the truth.

What are your thoughts on that misconception and advice that you have for a blogger looking to make money outside of that topic?

David: I agree with you, it is a misconception. One of the funniest things is that I would say that a majority of the people that are making money as bloggers are not in the ‘make money online’ market.

A lot of the people that are talking about this stuff are not making full-time incomes at it, but they’re still in the process of doing that, or trying to fake it, which is the worst thing.

I was blogging in the tech market for years before I ever lifted a finger and started talking about blogging itself. You even have people like Darren Rowse, who invented the word ‘pro blogger,’ and he’s doing most of his stuff with his digital photography site. So I think the idea that you have to blog about blogging or blog about making money online is actually not correct at all.

I think one of the reasons why people think that is because the people that are interested in doing that find themselves reading those kinds of blogs. I think it lends itself to a kind of tunnel vision, where that just happens to be what they’re paying attention to.

The thing that they forget is that most of the people out there who might be making money as bloggers, who are not talking about making money, they just don’t talk about making money, so therefore it doesn’t really dawn on you that they’re probably doing fairly okay at it.

Robb: I also found too that a lot of the really successful online sites have terrible Alexa rankings, and all those things that bloggers who read blogs all the time are ranking other sites off of. They look at other sites that might not have a cool design or have a terrible Alexa ranking and think, “Well, they’re not making anything.”

What they don’t know is behind the scenes they have a lot of traffic and they’re making a killing.

David: Oh, absolutely. The Alexa ratings have been notoriously inaccurate. I think they’re maybe a little better now, and page rank I think is pretty much meaningless these days.

It’s all a matter of having a business built around a site. Every audience wants different things in the way the site looks. If you read news and you ever look at the Drudge Report or something like this, it looks like hell, yet the guy’s making a killing with it.

Robb: Yeah. Switching gears just a little bit, what made you want to start www.DavidRisley.com, “Confessions of a Six-Figure Professional Blogger”?

David: For me it was more out of interest, because I was blogging in the tech market and it remains a hobby of mine, but I was finding that my passions were starting to adjust more to really kicking it up a notch in terms of building a business.

What I would find is that I was sitting there interested in the business side of things and marketing and things like that. That’s where my true passions lie at this time, and it was hard for me to get back into gear with writing about the tech stuff.

Also the audience with PC Mech are primarily much more hard-core geeks than I am these days. They like to build computers and stuff like this, stuff that I used to enjoy quite a bit. These days I’m more of a computer user. I really don’t want to take the lid off anymore. It’s just not a good use of my time.

So I decided to start DavidRisley.com because I wanted to be able to start writing again about what really motivated me. Of course it doesn’t hurt the fact that I’ve been doing it for awhile. I was like, “Hmm, I probably have something I could offer to this market.”

I was reading a lot of the other sites out there that we all know about, and I felt like they were offering a little bit of an incomplete picture of the way that I would spell it out.

So it was just like, “Well, I have something to offer. Let’s go ahead and do it.”

Robb: Cool. You have two coaching programs on DavidRisley.com, 3 Day Money and Blog Masters Club. Would you like to go into more detail about what each of those programs are?

David: Yeah, I’ll be brief about it. 3 Day Money is essentially a three-day course that’s designed for newbies really. It’s designed to take somebody who really doesn’t have much of an idea of how to go about generating any money on the internet, and will give them a primer on how to go about doing that.

It talks about market selection, and it does get into blogging a little bit, but it’s not essentially a course about blogging as much as it is just a general outlook of how to make money.

Blog Masters Club is a much, much more in-depth program, much larger than 3 Day Money. It’s a 16-module course and the focus is how to turn a blog into an actual business.

A lot of bloggers have a hard time getting out of the mindset of putting banner ads all over the place and hoping that it just takes off, and it just doesn’t work anymore. I think you even just put out a report to that effect. It doesn’t work that well anymore.

Robb: Yeah, the days of just ‘click and pay’ are kind of gone. It takes more of a strong business model, which is actually a good thing in the long run I believe. It’s more sustainable.

David: Oh, definitely. What I’m finding is there’s a lot of hold-overs that are still thinking that the old days of the digital gold rush are still there, and it’s just not. Now it comes to reality that you have to build a back-end to the blog. Otherwise you’re not going to make very much.

So Blog Masters Club in short goes into all that – how to build up your list, how to sell things, how to market to them, how to put together a membership site around the blog, how to build traffic to the blog, etc etc.

Robb: Actually, on that subject of making money online, you had a recent article that I commented on on your site about how you need to attract a buying audience.

I think a lot of bloggers get into this thought that they want a lot of traffic, they want a lot of comments, and then they’re wondering why they have all this traffic and they’re not making anything.

You had a really good article on that. If you wanted to go into a little detail on that, it would be great.

David: Yeah. It’s just that the numbers don’t mean that much. I’m not going to say they’re meaningless, because obviously you need to have people looking at your stuff to sell anything to them.

But you can have a small following of even just a few hundred people who are really into what you’re saying, and you can still make money off of those people. You don’t necessarily need to have 100,000 people looking at your blog.

Then another point of that article was that you need to pay attention to how the type of content that you put out there affects the type of people that end up gravitating to your blog, because not everybody makes a good customer.

Let’s just be honest, some people are more of a pain in the butt to deal with than other people, and they’re just not willing to take out their wallet for much of anything.

You aren’t rude to them or anything like that, but you just need to pay more attention to the type of people who are ultimately going to help you achieve the goals that you want. If money from your blog is one of those goals, then you need to pay more attention to them than everybody else.

Robb: I’ve heard in several of your videos about the freedom blogging gives you. I think a lot of bloggers think that once you get to a certain point, you’re only working an hour or two a day and you’re bringing in all this income and everything is just grand.

How much do you actually work a day on growing your business, and what do you do with the freedom of being your own boss?

David: The idea of working an hour or two a day is definitely a misconception. It is a full-time job for me. There are some days where I might only work six hours, but that’s only because I’m doing other stuff during the day.

Other days I’m working 8 to 10 to 12 hours a day. It just depends on the day. But overall this is a full-time job and I work as much, if not more than people with a 9 to 5.

In terms of what I do with the freedom, essentially it’s more of how you define freedom. The freedom that I have is that I can choose when I do and don’t work. It doesn’t mean that I can say, “I’m just not going to work at all,” because obviously if I just stop doing anything, the business would more or less dry up. I have some things on autopilot, but after awhile it would start to drift off.

So the freedom is that if we want to go on vacation I don’t have to ask anybody’s permission. If I wanted to go out to eat with my wife during the week, not only can I afford to buy that meal, but I can do it during the week without having to worry about my schedule the next day, and that type of thing.

The idea of having to sit in a cubicle all day, I’d probably just shoot myself.

Robb: Yeah, it just makes you want to pull your hair out. Do you think six-figure blogging is still attainable for new bloggers?

David: Sure, yeah. It’s all a matter of building the business back-end through the blog. Unfortunately we’re at a point at this point that most bloggers just don’t think about that, or you’ll have people who are coming in with an employee mindset, thinking that a blog is going to be a magic payday for them.

Maybe back in the 90’s and early 2000’s you could almost turn anything into a money stream. These days it’s more based on the old school rules of business, just in a new medium.

I think if bloggers brings that to the table, then sure, they can get to a six-figure point and probably do it a hell of a lot quicker than I did.

Robb: Yeah, I hear a lot of bloggers say, “I put it out there. Why aren’t people visiting it?” It’s a little bit more complicated than that. It’s not just that you throw out content and all the sudden there’s a rush of “if you build it, they will come.” That’s not how it works.

David: The “you build it, they come” thing is just not true anymore. You’ve got to go out there and get them. It’s just like in normal life.

I’ve used the metaphor before that if you build a house out in the middle of a forest, nobody’s going to know that it’s there. You’ve got to build a road to it, and ideally a whole bunch of roads to that house, before anybody’s ever going to drive by.

Robb: Absolutely. If you had one piece of advice about successful blogging, what would it be?

David: Probably what I was alluding to before, and that is to treat it like a business if you want it to be one. Along that line would be also to actually evaluate the niche that you want to enter before you spend the time to really go into it as a blogger, because most bloggers start a blog just because they have an interest in it. Then they turn around and reactively try to figure out how to monetize it.

That’s the wrong way to go about it, and it usually leads to frustration. Just decide on your goals from the outset. If making money is one of those goals, then that needs to be part of your criteria for evaluating what market you’re about to go into to. That’s probably the #1 mistake I see a lot of people make who are trying to make money at it.

Robb: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?

David: I’d probably do it faster. [laughing] Being that I started doing this so early, not only was a lot of what I do now not even an option back then, but nobody else was doing it. Nobody had any idea.

So if I had to start over again I think I could probably build up a lot quicker now, because I feel as if I know what I’m doing. I’ve got something that works.

I think part of the proof of that pudding – and I pat myself on the back for this – is that when I decided to start DavidRisley.com, I built it up much quicker.

Now obviously DavidRisley.com is still not nearly to the size of PC Mech, but that’s fine. It makes a hell of a lot more money per visitor than PC Mech does.

When I started that blog, I was sitting there telling myself, “I wonder if I still have the chops to start a brand new blog and get it off the ground,” or if I was just relying on luck beforehand.

So it was cool that I could actually build it up from nothing to what it is now, and the fact that I actually have people looking at it every day.

Robb: You bring up a good point too, in that you learn a lot through mistakes on that first blog. When people start expanding and making other blogs, and when you look at a lot of successful bloggers, they have multiple sites.

They may not have a dozen, but they have two or three that are really successful, and starting that second and third is typically a lot easier than starting that first.

David: Oh yeah. I think I’m actually one of the rare people that even with all the mistakes that I made, I just kept on working with the same site. That’s why PC Mech is what it is now. I didn’t give up on the market.

Quite frankly, when I started that site I wasn’t even thinking of it as a market. I was just completely off into never-never land, so that’s quite frankly what I tell a lot of bloggers now is that’s where it comes from, the fact that I know that I did it wrong and I realize the errors of my ways, and that’s why I try to teach other people not to do it that way.

Robb: Do you have a favorite drink?

David: Well, I drink a lot of water, but to get more fun than that, my wife is Russian. We went to Russia and I happened to have a birthday there. This was probably at least three years ago now.

Obviously, vodka is the big thing over there, so my birthday gift from her family was to basically get me hammered on cheap vodka. You can buy a bottle of vodka there for like….

Robb: A couple bucks?

David: Well, cheaper. If you equate rubles over to dollars, we’re talking like 50 cents. It’s just cheap. So now I actually like vodka. Sometimes I’ll just drink it straight, sometimes mix it with club soda or something.

Robb: Do you have a favorite food?

David: Well, some of my Twitter followers know this, and that is that I like to roll sushi. I actually really enjoy sushi. In fact, a month or two ago I actually got all dorky and recorded a video of me doing it. Sometime in the next week or two I might actually post a video of me rolling some sushi. [laughing]

Robb: That’ll be a good one! What are you driving?

David: I drive an Acura TL. I really like Honda as a company. My last car was a Honda Accord, and then I was like, “Well, I could drive something a little nicer than that,” so I went and got the Acura TL and it’s a nice car. It gets up and goes too.

Robb: I actually used to have one of the Legend coupes back in the day. That was a fun one.

Mac or PC?

David: These days it’s all Mac. I used a PC for the longest time. That’s obvious where PC Mech came from. It used to be called PC Mechanic, and then I just renamed it to PC Mech so I could be a little bit more general about it.

Back when Vista came out, it scared the living crap out of me. Then when OS10 Leopard came out I switched over to the Mac and I haven’t really looked back since.

Robb: It’s just too easy to use, isn’t it?

David: It’s awesome. It’s funny, too, as a blogger there’s some tools out there – with the exception of Windows Live Writer, which is an awesome client and unfortunately only comes under Windows – but there’s a lot of stuff for the Mac that’s not available for Windows. It’s just really cool for bloggers.

Robb: Is there anyone who inspires you?

David: In different ways. I read a lot of the people in my particular market. I read Darren Rowse and I think he’s basically the standard bearer for the whole world of professional blogger, but I also read Yaro and I do read some bloggers who I guess would be considered smaller than me, even though I don’t look at them that way.

There’s one guy named James over at TheInfopreneur.net, and he and I have butted heads a few times because our approaches are pretty different, but he is also inspiring because he’s got one hell of a work ethic. He’s got a military background and he brings that work ethic into his blogging.

I think he’s just got a very Gary Vaynerchuk style Crush It attitude with the way that he does his blogging, which I think is going to take him places.

Robb: Do you have anything else you want to add before we wrap this up?

David: I think blogging is just a lot of fun. Anybody who’s looking to do this, I think there’s still a lot of opportunity in this. One piece of advice, and this is something I’ve been thinking about lately, is that people these days need to think beyond the blog, not just the blog itself.

Definitely pay attention to what you’re doing with videos and out there on social media and things like that. Even though those things have been there for several years now, I think it’s going to be even more important than ever as we move forward, especially video. I think it’s just going to be huge. When I did the launch for Blog Masters Club, I put out several videos and I got a lot of great feedback from that.

I also just happen to know because I watch the market quite a bit that really there’s not very many people in this market doing that much video, and it’s really not that hard to do. I think that’s a real potential competitive advantage for anybody that wants to do it.

Robb: I think a lot of people think that they have to have this elaborate set-up to do video, and it’s really not true. Simple cuts make your typical reader happy. You don’t have to have fancy graphics and stuff all over the place. Just make it simple and people will watch it.

David: Oh yeah. A Flip video camera works just fine. I have a camcorder, but it’s nothing fancy. I just bought the thing at Best Buy, and I do all my editing with iMovie, which just comes with the Mac. There’s nothing fancy on this side. My microphone that I attach to the camera is literally about $16. I bought it from Amazon.com.

Robb: [laughing] An eBay special? There’s a ton of those out there too.

David: There’s tons of them out there. The only thing I would recommend if you want to have decent audio is to make sure you get a camera with a mic input. That’s a big thing.

Robb: Yeah, it separates out all the noise from the background.

For the people listening to this, by the time they hear it you’re probably going to have a new addition to the family. You have a daughter now, right?

David: Yeah, I’ve got a two-year-old daughter now. Today is Wednesday as we’re recording this and our son is officially due on Saturday, so obviously there’s a give and take. I’m betting it’s going to be next week before he actually comes out, but either way it’s happening very soon.

Robb: Congratulations on the new baby. That’s awesome!

David: Thank you!

Robb: All right, guys. That’s David Risley of PCMech.com and DavidRisley.com. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us, David.

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