Here we are at the 2012 Type-A Parent Conference at the Hilton Charlotte Center City in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our opening keynote speaker is Chris Garrett, who is talking to us on the topic of Blogging from Zero to Full-Time Business.
“I want to make sure that your blogs are awesome and that you can make a full-time living from it.” He apologizes for the “mumbly British accent,” but we’re welcome to shout at him if we can’t understand him.
Past truths of blogging, and what we should do instead.
It’s never too late. Some people say you it’s too late to get into blogging, that you needed to be an early adopter. But that isn’t true, because the people who started first made the most mistakes.
Stay curious. There’s always something new to learn – he’s talking about how he initially dismissed Pinterest, but now he embraces it once he discovered the value.
Social media has gone to show Chris that he wasn’t the only geek in the world, that there were other strange and weird people. Finding your tribe is powerful. We’re all in this room because we have a shared interest. We can get inspiration and moral support from others.
Reach out and find people.
“My family still doesn’t know what I do.” His dad sends business to a “younger, better looking” guy in the UK who does Web design.
Chris started putting articles out on his blog to be helpful, and so he wouldn’t have to keep repeating himself when it came to computer programming problems. Then people started offering to send him checks and asked him to come help them in person. Monetization came as a surprise to him.
You don’t necessarily have to believe in yourself, but you have to be confident in your content. You don’t have to be confident in yourself as long as you’re being as helpful as you can.
There is no such thing as job security. Even if you think your boss is your friend, even if you’ve helped them move houses…nothing is sacred. His wife went into labor 16 weeks early, the same week he lost his job.
Always have a backup plan. Your blog is your worry-reduction device.
You don’t have to have a journalism degree to write magazine articles. If you can pitch an editor an interesting enough story, you can get in print.
Chris avoided speaking for 10 years. He says he’s terrified of all of us. (I wish my voice could be as steady as his when I’m terrified to speak in front of people.)
“Don’t hide. Be proud of what you do and who you are, because the opportunities happen to people we can identify.”
Brian Clark and Darren Rowse were Chris’s lifeline when their business folded way back when. (I think I may have written for them before they sold the company. I honestly don’t remember though.) Don’t dismiss anyone. Your friends are so important. Chris says he’s shy and introverted. But you never know how you might be able to learn from people, or what they may be able to learn from you.
Chris is actually quite bad at direct monetization (AdSense, etc.) but he’s very good at indirect monetization – making money because of blogging.
Move the fear line. Do stuff that scares you. (Like talking to us, apparently.) Chris started speaking because he couldn’t do it. That’s how we grow. If you don’t push the corners of your comfort zone, your comfort zone is going to get smaller. We blow things up in our head. Think about why you’re not doing stuff, then go out and do it.
Paying the mortgage is awesome, but the friends, the travel, and the experiences you can get from blogging are worth everything. You can work anywhere, because your work isn’t tied to geography.
Family. You don’t have to ask permission for time off to do important things like go to your kid’s recital, go to doctor’s appointments, etc. FREEDOM.
Don’t Make This Mistake
Don’t give it all away for free. Chris faced a lot of backlash after giving information away for free for so long, then asked for money for things. If you’re going to be in business, be in business. Let people know up front what you’re about.
Using your skills is a great way to make money. Freelancing, providing services.
You can manage projects for other people. (I guess I’m a mix of the freelancer and the manager with my copywriting services.)
Advising and teaching is the next step, where you help other people achieve their goals. Beyond that is investing.
Progress rather than perfection. Don’t hold off doing something because you’re waiting for everything to be perfect.
Don’t put all of your eggs in Google’s basket. Make an email list, because Google’s algorithm changes can end your livelihood in a blink.
Harsh Reality #1: MOST BLOGS SUCK. Stand out by not sucking.
Harsh Reality #2: Content does not promote itself. Be entertaining and useful, and write great headlines!
Harsh Reality #3: You’re going to have to face the money issue. Decide on a business model.
Harsh Reality #4: You can’t control the conversation. Don’t try to. But you can give people a place to hold the conversation. Make sure you have a contact form.
Harsh Reality #5: Search engines hate lame content. Don’t phone it in. Quality is better than quantity.
Harsh Reality #6: Feed me, Seymour. You’ll never be able to keep up with the content monster. Don’t apololgize for not posting.
Harsh Reality #7: The Internet doesn’t care about you.
What to Do
Attract. Engage. Convert.
In that order. Don’t be a spammer by doing it the wrong way around.
Only make offers when you have something useful, valuable, and free to back yourself up.
Be the best you. Don’t try to be someone else.
Your audience and you: the sweet spot is where you combine your passions, what you know, what your audience wants, and what people are willing to pay you for.
There’s no such thing as driving traffic. You attract traffic. You’re not the blog whisperer.
Discover what people want solved, and help them solve it.
Graphic stolen from Lee Odden: The bread is content, which the peanut butter is SEO and the social is jelly. (Bad metaphor? I don’t like jelly; I eat plain peanut butter sandwiches.)
Make friends. Don’t try to find people to put in your network.
Multiple souces of traffic: SEO, social, links, other. Find your best sources of traffic and work with that.
Move toward action. Education > Inspire > Motivate > Give them the next step.
Low Pressure Offers
- Who are you?
- What do you have for me?
- How is this going to help me?
- Why should I care?
- What should I do next?
— Chris Garrett (@chrisgarrett) June 26, 2012
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Tags: blogging, conferences, social media, Type-A Parent