Darren Rowse Curated

Australian Blogger, Speaker, Consultant

CURATED BY :  

This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Darren Rowse have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Darren Rowse 's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming bloggerss. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • When someone writes a history of the church of the 21st century, do you think he or she will need to include a chapter on blogs? Will blogs be shown to have that kind of significance or will they eventually just be forgotten?

    From what I know of the development of the Printing Press (a technology that changed the world) – Christians were at the forefront in using this tool to print Scripture. Many futurists believe that what’s happening online at the moment is as significant as what happened with the Printing Press – the world is changing. I guess my question is – are we as the Church embracing and using this new technology – or are we being left behind? As I said above – Web 2.0 is surging ahead and developing all kinds of wonderful websites and applications that draw people together for community, create conversation, help people achieve their potential and equip them for life – but sadly the Church seems to be be missing from the conversation.

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  • How has blogging impacted your faith?

    There have been times when I’ve felt incredibly blessed and enriched by blogging. I learned a lot and made some great friends in early days of my first blog when I was connecting with and learning from other church planters around the world who were planting similar kinds of churches to LivingRoom (our community). On the flip side I came away from some of what I saw happening in the ‘Christian Blogging community’ feeling quite depressed. In some of the debates between different ‘varieties’ of Christians I saw terrible personal attack and disunity which left me feeling somewhat jaded and frustrated. Since spending less time in the ‘Christian’ blogosphere I’ve found my faith challenged and enlivened in many ways. I now run a large blog network with hundreds of blogs and lots of people working for us. Being involved in a large business in this way brings a lot of challenges in terms of the decisions you have to make and the interactions that you have with others. I think I pray a lot more than I used to as a result!

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  • How does your faith impact how you pursue this vocation?

    My first blog was a ‘Christian Blog’ in many senses (not that it had a conversion experience…). I started it to talk about issues of faith, spirituality and church. It became reasonably well known in Christian blogging circles and I had a lot to do with other Christian bloggers. One of the things that I became a bit frustrated with over the two or so years that that blog was active was that I saw the majority of Christian bloggers gathering together to talk about subjects that related to them – but very little outward focus or interaction with the wider blogosphere. While I think that there is definitely a place for Christian bloggers to do more inward focussed blogging (fellowship and doing faith together is a big part of what I see us called to do as followers of Christ) I wondered whether we were ignoring another part of what we’re called to be on about – mission. My critique of Christian blogging is actually similar to my critique of much of what I see happening with the Church today – an overemphasis upon gathering together as believers – at the expense of ‘going into the world to make disciples’. I came to a point where I saw incredible opportunity in blogging to ‘go’. People are gathering around the web through blogs to learn, build relationships, have dialogue, share their lives, talk about every aspect of their existence – but the majority of Christian bloggers that I knew at the time (including myself) were gathering together in our ‘Holy Huddles’ to do ‘Christian Things’. I made a decision to spend more time focussing upon going and participating in what I saw happening outside of the ‘Christian Blogosphere’. What I found is that there are some amazing opportunities in the wider blogosphere to connect with people – to share your life with them and to make a difference. I also found that there are a lot of bloggers with similar faith perspectives doing similar things and not getting into ‘Christian Blogging’.

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  • Can you offer my readers 3-4 tips for producing a successful blog?

    t’s a combination of things. Heart. Telling stories. That is gold. It certainly has worked for me—being personal on the blog. Telling my own story, and giving reader a space to tell theirs, either in posts or in comments. Building interaction and community on your blog. A lot of bloggers just provide information and don’t actually provide interaction. For us, that meant setting up a forum area. For others, that would mean setting up a Facebook page where you can have that engagement. For others, it’s purely in the comment section. Asking lots of questions. I think building community is very important. Then you have to be strategic. How am I going to find subscribers for my blog? Doing analysis on the different technologies. Maybe its RSS feeders, maybe its email, maybe it’s Facebook. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe you need to send them letters? Some people don’t hang out on the Web much at all, but you can drive them there in some other way. Working out those kinds of strategies: How will I find those readers, how do I hook them into the site, and then what journey will I take them on? After they’ve subscribed, then what next? Do you want them to follow you on Twitter? Do you want them to comment on a post? You might send an email that says, “Here are 10 of our most popular posts. Drop by and let us know what you think of them. Leave a comment.” It’s thinking strategically and asking yourself, “What journey do I want to take my readers on?”

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  • What kind of readership do you need to start implementing ads and seeing income?

    It varies a little from niche to niche because some of the ads will pay more in some niches than in others. I was always aiming for 1,000 readers a day; in my mind that was what I needed to start making enough for it to be a part time job. Then again I now know other bloggers with a couple hundred readers a day who sell ebooks or their own products or services, and they are well on their well to being full-time bloggers because of the price of their products and the engagement they have with those readers. If you’ve got really loyal readers and they are going to buy the things you recommend or that you make, you can build an income stream quite quickly.

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  • What are the 3-5 top things you do to drive traffic (readers) to your blog?

    Writing the content that will serve them is the thing to do first. It doesn’t bring the readers in, but it certain helps when they are there to keeps them. I think that is really important. If I were starting again and trying to drive readers I would go through an exercise or try to work out who I want to read the blog and define their needs and where they were hanging out. Working out where the readers are on line. With Digital Photograph School, they were all on Flickr at the time. On Flickr photo sharing site people have cameras. So that’s a place where I developed a Flickr group, which is like a Facebook page, and I began to develop relationships there and share the links to what we were writing to build engagement on another site. As a result of that, we were able to drive people back to our site. That was probably a fairly significant thing. Developing relationships with other bloggers who had my potential reader. LifeHacker is a big tech how to site and they let you submit story ideas. I was constantly submitting story ideas, and probably one in four they would pick up. After a while you get the feel for the type of things they are interested in. They drove a lot of traffic in to Digital Photography School. Even though they weren’t a photography site, they had technologically inclined how-to articles that related to ours. I developed that relationship, got to know the editor of that site. They started watching us, and I didn’t have to submit so much. Ten others might pick up the thread on your post on that site as well, and you get on the front page of Delicious or Digg because of the accumulation of traffic. Social media can be good if you pick the right one for your audience. These days a lot of our readers hang out on Facebook; they don’t use Twitter so much in the photography space. Developing a space there proved good. Set up an email newsletter list. This didn’t help us find new readers, but it helps us drive traffic every week. We send out a newsletter each week, which is basically just a recap of our posts for the week. That drives our biggest day of traffic by far; it doubles or triples our normal day of traffic because we send out an email to all the people who have subscribed over the years. We have a nicely designed template and list the posts and feature a few photos in it. We have a few ads in it either for our own ebooks, or we sell the ads. If we don’t send that out, our readers say, “Where’s my newsletter?” They love it. They come to expect it. It’s a useful way of keeping in touch with the site. That’s why we promote our newsletter so heavily on the site. Also, it makes it easy for them to know what posts ran that week. Most of our readers have no idea what an RSS feed is or what Twitter is. Some don’t understand what Facebook is. So they’ve got no other way of getting notification of new posts other than email, and so they thank us. It’s certainly not seen as a spammy type thing by our readers. I don’t do that so much on ProBlogger, but on the photo site it’s gold.

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  • What are the 3-5 top things you do to drive traffic (readers) to your blog?

    Writing the content that will serve them is the thing to do first. It doesn’t bring the readers in, but it certain helps when they are there to keeps them. I think that is really important. If I were starting again and trying to drive readers I would go through an exercise or try to work out who I want to read the blog and define their needs and where they were hanging out. Working out where the readers are on line. With Digital Photograph School, they were all on Flickr at the time. On Flickr photo sharing site people have cameras. So that’s a place where I developed a Flickr group, which is like a Facebook page, and I began to develop relationships there and share the links to what we were writing to build engagement on another site. As a result of that, we were able to drive people back to our site. That was probably a fairly significant thing. Developing relationships with other bloggers who had my potential reader. LifeHacker is a big tech how to site and they let you submit story ideas. I was constantly submitting story ideas, and probably one in four they would pick up. After a while you get the feel for the type of things they are interested in. They drove a lot of traffic in to Digital Photography School. Even though they weren’t a photography site, they had technologically inclined how-to articles that related to ours. I developed that relationship, got to know the editor of that site. They started watching us, and I didn’t have to submit so much. Ten others might pick up the thread on your post on that site as well, and you get on the front page of Delicious or Digg because of the accumulation of traffic. Social media can be good if you pick the right one for your audience. These days a lot of our readers hang out on Facebook; they don’t use Twitter so much in the photography space. Developing a space there proved good. Set up an email newsletter list. This didn’t help us find new readers, but it helps us drive traffic every week. We send out a newsletter each week, which is basically just a recap of our posts for the week. That drives our biggest day of traffic by far; it doubles or triples our normal day of traffic because we send out an email to all the people who have subscribed over the years. We have a nicely designed template and list the posts and feature a few photos in it. We have a few ads in it either for our own ebooks, or we sell the ads. If we don’t send that out, our readers say, “Where’s my newsletter?” They love it. They come to expect it. It’s a useful way of keeping in touch with the site. That’s why we promote our newsletter so heavily on the site. Also, it makes it easy for them to know what posts ran that week. Most of our readers have no idea what an RSS feed is or what Twitter is. Some don’t understand what Facebook is. So they’ve got no other way of getting notification of new posts other than email, and so they thank us. It’s certainly not seen as a spammy type thing by our readers. I don’t do that so much on ProBlogger, but on the photo site it’s gold.

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  • What are the 3-5 top things you do to drive traffic (readers) to your blog?

    Writing the content that will serve them is the thing to do first. It doesn’t bring the readers in, but it certain helps when they are there to keeps them. I think that is really important. If I were starting again and trying to drive readers I would go through an exercise or try to work out who I want to read the blog and define their needs and where they were hanging out. Working out where the readers are on line. With Digital Photograph School, they were all on Flickr at the time. On Flickr photo sharing site people have cameras. So that’s a place where I developed a Flickr group, which is like a Facebook page, and I began to develop relationships there and share the links to what we were writing to build engagement on another site. As a result of that, we were able to drive people back to our site. That was probably a fairly significant thing. Developing relationships with other bloggers who had my potential reader. LifeHacker is a big tech how to site and they let you submit story ideas. I was constantly submitting story ideas, and probably one in four they would pick up. After a while you get the feel for the type of things they are interested in. They drove a lot of traffic in to Digital Photography School. Even though they weren’t a photography site, they had technologically inclined how-to articles that related to ours. I developed that relationship, got to know the editor of that site. They started watching us, and I didn’t have to submit so much. Ten others might pick up the thread on your post on that site as well, and you get on the front page of Delicious or Digg because of the accumulation of traffic. Social media can be good if you pick the right one for your audience. These days a lot of our readers hang out on Facebook; they don’t use Twitter so much in the photography space. Developing a space there proved good. Set up an email newsletter list. This didn’t help us find new readers, but it helps us drive traffic every week. We send out a newsletter each week, which is basically just a recap of our posts for the week. That drives our biggest day of traffic by far; it doubles or triples our normal day of traffic because we send out an email to all the people who have subscribed over the years. We have a nicely designed template and list the posts and feature a few photos in it. We have a few ads in it either for our own ebooks, or we sell the ads. If we don’t send that out, our readers say, “Where’s my newsletter?” They love it. They come to expect it. It’s a useful way of keeping in touch with the site. That’s why we promote our newsletter so heavily on the site. Also, it makes it easy for them to know what posts ran that week. Most of our readers have no idea what an RSS feed is or what Twitter is. Some don’t understand what Facebook is. So they’ve got no other way of getting notification of new posts other than email, and so they thank us. It’s certainly not seen as a spammy type thing by our readers. I don’t do that so much on ProBlogger, but on the photo site it’s gold.

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  • What are the 3-5 top things you do to drive traffic (readers) to your blog?

    Writing the content that will serve them is the thing to do first. It doesn’t bring the readers in, but it certain helps when they are there to keeps them. I think that is really important. If I were starting again and trying to drive readers I would go through an exercise or try to work out who I want to read the blog and define their needs and where they were hanging out. Working out where the readers are on line. With Digital Photograph School, they were all on Flickr at the time. On Flickr photo sharing site people have cameras. So that’s a place where I developed a Flickr group, which is like a Facebook page, and I began to develop relationships there and share the links to what we were writing to build engagement on another site. As a result of that, we were able to drive people back to our site. That was probably a fairly significant thing. Developing relationships with other bloggers who had my potential reader. LifeHacker is a big tech how to site and they let you submit story ideas. I was constantly submitting story ideas, and probably one in four they would pick up. After a while you get the feel for the type of things they are interested in. They drove a lot of traffic in to Digital Photography School. Even though they weren’t a photography site, they had technologically inclined how-to articles that related to ours. I developed that relationship, got to know the editor of that site. They started watching us, and I didn’t have to submit so much. Ten others might pick up the thread on your post on that site as well, and you get on the front page of Delicious or Digg because of the accumulation of traffic. Social media can be good if you pick the right one for your audience. These days a lot of our readers hang out on Facebook; they don’t use Twitter so much in the photography space. Developing a space there proved good. Set up an email newsletter list. This didn’t help us find new readers, but it helps us drive traffic every week. We send out a newsletter each week, which is basically just a recap of our posts for the week. That drives our biggest day of traffic by far; it doubles or triples our normal day of traffic because we send out an email to all the people who have subscribed over the years. We have a nicely designed template and list the posts and feature a few photos in it. We have a few ads in it either for our own ebooks, or we sell the ads. If we don’t send that out, our readers say, “Where’s my newsletter?” They love it. They come to expect it. It’s a useful way of keeping in touch with the site. That’s why we promote our newsletter so heavily on the site. Also, it makes it easy for them to know what posts ran that week. Most of our readers have no idea what an RSS feed is or what Twitter is. Some don’t understand what Facebook is. So they’ve got no other way of getting notification of new posts other than email, and so they thank us. It’s certainly not seen as a spammy type thing by our readers. I don’t do that so much on ProBlogger, but on the photo site it’s gold.

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  • I know a professional blogger who says you have to write a certain number of posts before you see a big traffic change—actually 1,000 posts. Would you agree?

    I’ve often said the fist thousand posts are the hardest. I’ve talked to bloggers who in their first week have had massive traffic because they’ve written something that hit the mark with people. And then for others it takes years. You certainly grow as a writer and learn the skills of blogging the more you do it and practice it. Like any type of writing, you improve as you write. I’d be hesitant to put a number on the number of post you need.

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  • How long did it take for you to gain blog readers, and can you pin point any certain event that created a tipping point when readership noticeably increased?

    I don’t remember a lot of the readership stats from the early days, but it probably took about a year or so on that personal blog before it began to get reasonable well read and quite well known in some of its areas. ProBlogger took about a year and a half to grow to a point where I would say it was a full-time income and enough to live on. On that blog the tipping point in terms of traffic was probably when I actually revealed that I was making money from blogging and talked a little bit about the reality of it and that it was a full time thing. I kind of avoided talking about that; I didn’t want it to be a sensational post, like “Darren Makes This Much Money!” But I had to talk about the personal aspect of it almost in that way to give some credibility to topic. Most of my other blogs have had fairly steady growth; there’s not been a whole heap of “this moment changed everything.” There’s been a series of posts I’ve written that have grown the audience and shown a spike in traffic, but then things died down. Over time things trended upward.

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  • Do you recommend people do research before they start a blog?

    It’s probably more important to start with a topic you are interested in and engaged with. It is probably worth testing that topic with other people; that’s worth a little bit of research. Obviously, if you want to make a bit of money, then you want people to read it. If there is no one is interested in that topic, then it is probably not a good topic. The global usage of the Internet is so big now, though, that there is always going to be someone interested. Even quite tiny niches can grow reasonable good sized audiences.

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  • What, if any, market research did you do before beginning your blog?

    In 2002, when I started blogging, I didn’t really do any research at all. That blog was purely an extension of me. I was writing about everything and anything, but as I blogged I realized my readers wanted less. They wanted a more focused blog because I was blogging about photography, blogging, church, movies, and all kinds of stuff I was involved with. The more topics I wrote about, the less people I found who had all of those interests. Like most people, I’m a fairly eclectic person. That’s when I started to focus on niches. The first one was a photography blog, which wasn’t really researched. ProBlogger isn’t a blog that was overly researched, but it was probably more intuitively researched. I realized a lot of bloggers were starting to talk about blogs and debate the idea, and I was beginning to debate the idea myself. It was more a blog I wanted to read and that I thought my friends wanted to read.

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  • What is your favorite museum in the world and why?

    In Paris I also enjoyed the Musee National Picasso – I found it fascinating to track through much of his art from start to finish through his life. It’s not too big and can be viewed in a couple of hours (unlike the Louvre which takes a couple of hours to see just a section)

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  • Have you ever visited a well-known attraction and regretted it later?

    Probably the Mona Lisa at the Louvre – while interesting to see the crowds of people all raising their camera phones up to this little painting behind bullet proof glass left me feeling a little underwhelmed.

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  • What is the cheapest hotel or hostel room you’ve ever stayed in?

    I actually used to travel with a band doing youth work in high schools around Australia. We would be billeted out by families along the road. One week our billets got mixed up and I ended up spending the week sleeping the week on the living room floor of an elderly gentleman with no mattress and a bean bag as a pillow. I woke up one night to find that the bean bag had exploded and I was swimming in a sea of polystyrene balls.

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  • What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve eaten while on the road?

    I did eat a cockroach once while traveling in Thailand (or perhaps I should say I ate half a cockroach…. shudder) – but that wasn’t on purpose. I did also eat bulls testicles once – didn’t realize what it was until the local I was with filled me in (he found it very amusing).

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  • Do you have a luxury item that you don’t leave home without?

    I rarely leave home without copious amounts of electronics — my laptop, my DSLR and an array of chargers and travel adapters. I’m toying with the idea of leaving the DSLR at home in the future though and just taking a compact as I usually am traveling for business and for the weight I’m carrying I’m not using the DSLR enough!

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  • What is your favorite packing trick?

    I’m not the most sophisticated packer in the world and fear my ‘tricks’ may be a little basic – but I find the insides of shoes to be a great place to put things. It’s empty space that you can utilize if you’re in need of a little more. The other thing I’ve been known to do is pre-order stuff on Amazon (I occasionally get vouchers to there) and have it delivered to my destination for me to pick up and use on the trip.

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  • What differences are there between publishing a book and a blog? Do they support or compliment each other?

    It has been an interesting process writing a book. At times it was overwhelming to put together because you commit to writing something that is many thousands of words – however the reality is that I’ve written many more thousands of words on my blog. I guess the challenge with a book is that you need to be a little more disciplined to stay on topic and take things through a logical process and to a logical conclusion. A blog has more scope for getting sidetracked, following streams of ideas, being a little more creative. I see having a blog and book on the same topic as being complimentary. They both engage people quite differently yet reinforce one another quite well.

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  • Would you say this book is geared to companies, individuals or both?

    Chris and I wrote this book for individuals wanting to get their head around how bloggers make money and wanting some starting points on how to do it for themselves. It’s aimed at the beginner to intermediate blogger. Having said that – quite a few more experienced bloggers and even business bloggers from companies have told us that they’ve picked up worthwhile ideas from the book. In writing the book we cover everything from SEO, to writing engaging content, to building an audience, to blog design – these are topics that anyone producing a blog of any kind can benefit from.

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  • Do you think everyone should inspire for that 6 figure income? What are the soft or indirect Money benefits from blogging?

    I encourage new bloggers to see direct income from their blogs as one possible benefit from blogging. Sure – it’s nice to earn money from blogging through advertising or affiliate revenue – but there are actually bigger benefits for many bloggers than that kind of direct income. For example – blogs have the ability to build your profile or perceived expertise in a niche. This can open up opportunities to speak, write books, consult, sell products etc.

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  • In terms of personal branding, how might blogging become the foundation for creating a compelling eBrand?

    I see my blogging as one important component in my overall personal brand. For me blogging is definitely a foundational part of my brand but also important are other elements such as social media presence (using tools like Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook etc), the book (which opens up new opportunities offline), speaking at conferences etc. Blogging is a fantastic tool in this mix because it enables you to build trust and develop an ongoing relationship with those who read it. I liken it to real life relationships – when you meet up with someone every day for a few years and they catch glimpses of different sides of you over that time a deep relationship can open up – this is the opportunity that blogging affords people So in terms of ‘how’ to do this – I guess for me it’s about blogging in a personal voice (I try to write like I speak), about using images, video, audio to add a personal touch and only blogging things that enhance or build the brand that you’re attempting to build.

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  • How is this book different than the content on your Problogger blog? Would you consider it a compilation?

    Yes in many ways you could see this as a compilation. The idea for a book came aboutProBlogger Book out of the many requests from new readers to my blog who struggled to find a way to access the information in it in a logical way. With over 4000 posts on ProBlogger there is a lot of great information hidden away in archives that is difficult to find unless you know what you’re looking for. Reading it from beginning to end isn’t always helpful as the topics covered are quite scattered when you take them chronologically and over time the older archives date. So the book was an attempt at compiling the best and most up to date information possible on blogging. The other bonus of it is that in having Chris co-author it with me he brought a fresh perspective to my own teaching on the topic – something that actually makes it ‘new’ as well as being a compilation of older ideas.

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  • It’s kind of one of those things where you learn more from your mistakes sometimes than your successes. You don’t want to change that.

    Exactly. Even having learned a lot of the mistakes, I still made them again. [laughing] I still ended up with Digital-Photography-School.com with hyphens in it, a really bad domain for branding and to try to communicate to someone where your domain is, but for other reasons it worked really well.

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  • What if anything would you do differently about your blogging if you had to do it all over again?

    I don’t really know that I would do too much differently. The good thing is that pretty much every mistake I’ve made has actually had its flip side of something good about it. Most of my mistakes have probably been around domain names and getting bad ones or not thinking about where the site will go ahead of time. My first blog was on a .org.au. It was to do with the church I’d started, and then I launched my first photography blog off the back of it. It ranked really well in Google Australia.

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  • If you were not blogging today, what would you be doing?

    I don’t really know. My background is working in churches as a minister, which in some ways is actually quite similar to what I do today, in that communication was a big part of it, and preaching and building community was the other part of it, I guess. I don’t know whether I’d still be doing that or not. Possibly, but it would be one of those types of things – community and communication. I don’t really know. That could apply to lots of different types of jobs, I guess.

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  • I think I drink enough coffee to support the whole industry. Who inspires you the most?

    Probably my kids actually. I just think their fresh approach to life is constantly inspiring me, both in my personal life and even just to look at things in my business differently, so yeah, probably my kids.

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  • Outside of blogging, what’s your favorite thing to do away from the keyboard?

    Probably read. That’s something I consistently do to relax. I’ll quite often duck off to the bedroom at 3:00 in the afternoon for half an hour and get out the Kindle or actually a paper book and just read a novel and sort of escape. Apart from that it’s probably more family stuff. I’ve got two kids, 1 and 3 years of age, two boys, and jumping on the trampoline and teaching them how to wrestle and play with Thomas the Tank Engine and those sorts of things seem to be what my life is filled with when I’m not working.

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  • If you have one information product or coaching program outside of your own that you would recommend, what would it be?

    Personally I’m reading more books at the moment. It’s strange. I’ve kind of gone back to old-school learning and a lot of the people who were writing about copywriting over the years and quite a long way back. I’m reading a book by Robert Cialdini called Influence, which was written years ago, but it talks about why people are influenced and why people make decisions. It’s sort of psychology I guess in some ways, and it’s really fascinating. In terms of products, I recently looked at Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula. It’s from the internet marketing kind of world that I was talking about before, but there is some good stuff in there as well. David Risley has got his Blog Masters Club coaching program, which is quite useful. It’s quite a long program, but it really walks you through a lot of the different things. There’s a lot out there, and I guess it really comes down to whether you resonate with the person who’s doing the teaching. If you’re willing to put in the time, a lot of these programs would work well for you and help you take it forward.

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  • What do you think your best piece of advice is for bloggers that might have a growing audience but have kind of hit like a plateau in their traffic or in their earning?

    I think a lot of it is about knowing who you want to reach. What I’ve done over the last year or so particularly is to actually build some author profiles and to actually write up short documents of 300 words or something that actually describes the type of person that I want to reach. I even put a photo of that type of person in it and give them a name. It sounds a bit silly in some ways, but actually having that profile and having defined that type of person that you want to reach then helps you to take it to the next step and identify where that type of person is already hanging out online and what type of problems that person would have, so that you can begin to write content for them. Identify what things appeal to that type of person so that you might do some advertising using those sorts of images and colors and ideas. It’s about defining who you want to reach, and then starting to break out and find other sites and other places offline even that that person is hanging out, so that you can actually begin to interact with them in those spaces. I’ve done that a number of times over the years in my blogs. I’ve redefined who I want to reach, and then go and find new places that they’re already hanging out. It’s always a great new source of traffic to go through that type of exercise.

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  • What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

    There’s a lot. I just love the creative entrepreneurial kind of aspect of it. I love watching people use words, video, images, and mashing them together and creating something that makes me go, “Wow!” and that makes me think and that helps me improve my life. That sort of aspect of blogging is really great. The community aspect of the interaction that you can have – not just between you and your readers, but watching your readers interact in comments is great. Just the fact that once you start doing it and build some authority, all kinds of opportunities open up to meet people and to further your entrepreneurial aspirations as well, which has been quite amazing for me. To be chatting to you, to be chatting to people around the world and traveling to conferences and those types of things – it’s really fantastic to have those opportunities. I never would have had them without a blog.

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  • what was your greatest challenge in starting a new forum on your blog?

    They’ve been great for me. I know with DPS particularly, the engagement there that we’ve had has been great. One of the cool things about forums is they attract a different type of person. Someone who reads your blog, not everyone will like that type of format, and others will prefer the forum, so it’s good in that way. I guess the challenge is really about moderation, setting ground rules, and trying to set a culture in the forum that is positive rather than snarky. Forums can quite often descend into politics and snarkiness and fights and basically a mess. I’ve worked with my team, and my team has really done a lot of it to try and create a forum on DPS which is constructive, that’s welcoming, that’s inclusive, and that takes people forward in some practical way. It is a challenge. We’ve got something like 85,000 members in that forum, and they all come with their own agenda and they’ve all come from a different culture and background. They’re all different generations, so there’s a lot of potential clash points there. It’s just about trying to set the type of interaction that you want, by doing that yourself. I guess the other big challenge for a forum is getting it started. We actually didn’t start our forum until we’d already had a successful Flickr group, so we sort of started this Flickr group, and that was an easier thing for people to join. Once people were interacting there, we then invited some of those Flickr members to come over and start the forum in private, so that when people arrived on that forum there was already activity there. Some of those sorts of tactics can help you get going, but unless you’ve already gotten an established readership, it can be very difficult to get that forum going. An empty forum where no one’s actually commenting is not a really great advert for someone else to join it, so you need to find a way to get it going at the start.

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  • What would you say is the greatest attributing factor to gaining more subscribers?

    It’s a bit of a slippery thing to define in some ways. I guess for me it’s largely about creating content that is useful to people, and giving people a sense of anticipation that there will be more of it. Really no one subscribes to a page that they don’t think they’re going to get value out of in the future. Generally that’s based upon what they’ve just received from it. So if you can create some sort of sense of anticipation on your site, that there’s more coming, that you’re not just writing one good article, but you’ve written others and that there’s more coming, then generally people are more open to subscribing to that. There’s other factors, of course, like if they see there’s lot of other people subscribed, there’s that element of social proof and they may be more willing to subscribe as well. For me it really just comes down to being as useful as you can and helping people enhance their lives in some way. Generally people want to journey with that type of site that helps them.

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  • Do you want to go into a little bit more detail about that and what you guys are actually doing?

    Sure. Third Tribe is a collaboration between Brian Clark and Sonia Simone from CopyBlogger, Chris Brogan, and myself. It really emerged because we each had this sort of separate journey of struggling between what we perceived as being two different groups of people, two other tribes or two ideas that we’ve sort of grappled with. On one side you’ve got the internet marketers who traditionally – and not all internet marketers are like this – are into hype and massive long sales pages that can be quite manipulative and hypey and that type of thing. Whilst there’s some really good lessons that you can learn from that group of people, I’ve never really felt completely comfortable with some of what they do. Then on the other side you’ve got social media and bloggers and that kind of crowd who are into community, relationships, exploring different types of media, but traditionally haven’t really been great at converting that engagement into profit. I’m doing this partly for profit and partly because I want to build communities and I want to help people, so I’ve never really felt completely a part of that group either. I guess I’ve strayed from one extreme to the other over the eight or so years, and I’ve dabbled in both sides of things. I’ve been trying to find my way in the middle. The more I talk to other bloggers, the more I discover that same story is true for them. Brian and Sonia and Chris have all grappled with that, and many other bloggers have as well. I guess as we started to talk about it and discover that there were others like us and others with ideas about how to move forward through those two groups, we started to talk about creating a space and a community to 1) teach people about how to make money online without being obnoxious, and 2) how to engage with social media in a way that is transparent and ethical, but that also makes money. That’s the idea behind the Third Tribe. I think we’ve been live just over 48 hours. We’ve had 1,000 or so people put their hands up and say, “I’m in that third tribe too and want to journey with you.” So there’s teaching in the site, and there’s also community and a forum area where people can collaborate and share what they’re learning, and I guess share their struggles and frustrations with being in this third tribe area and trying to make sense of it.

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  • How much of the success during 2009 do you attribute to this expansion, and where do you see 2010 taking you in respect to information products and membership sites?

    In 2009 I kind of had been watching the economy struggling, and kind of my prediction back in 2008 was that if it continued to decline, that the advertising revenue that blogs were able to generate would probably dry up or at least decrease. To some extent it has – perhaps for me not as much as I’d expected – so I began to think about how can I diversify my income streams and how can I build income streams that are not reliant upon what other people are willing to pay me for advertising. I began to do a little bit more affiliate marketing at first. I started promoting other people’s products and taking a commission, but then also I started to work on my own products. They included the ebooks that you talked about and the membership site on ProBlogger. So it was partly a year of diversification, and also testing what I kind of knew was true and what I’d been teaching anyway, that you can build your own products and sell them. Yeah, last year was great. My income increased and my business became more profitable as a result of that. The advertising revenue actually remained fairly stable last year. It went down a little bit, particularly towards the end of the year, but with the extra stuff that I was doing, it was really great. Of course, it was a lot more work as well

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  • What changed in your brain at that point in time that made blogging as a profession a reality?

    What happened behind that story was that I’d been blogging for probably a year and a half, maybe two years, and every day after I’d been blogging I’d come out and tell her, “Hey, it’s growing. It’s now $50 a day instead of $40. I think next month we’ll hit $60.” I kind of kept pitching her this idea that one day I’d go full time. It was growing, but it was growing quite slowly, and I think she just got sick of hearing me talk about it. She said, “Let’s just do it. Work full time on it for six months. If you’re not at a point where you’re full time at the end of that six months, maybe it’s best to find something else.” For me that deadline gave me a lot of incentive to get going, because I really wanted to do this full time. It helped me to become more focused, more disciplined, to be a bit more strategic, and to actually plan how I was going to achieve that. I kind of knew I’d get there one day, but I didn’t really have a plan on how I’d do that. So I guess what changed in my mind was just a different mindset that actually propelled me forward, and I put a lot more time into it for those few months. It was probably about four months after that that I guess I went to about a full-time level and she said, “Yup, you’re a full-time blogger.” It kind of sounds like she calls the shots in our house. It was much more of a conversation than that, but I kind of really appreciated her giving me that deadline in a sense, or us setting that deadline together. Robb: I think everyone’s probably had that conversation at one point in time in some form or fashion.

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  • What would you recommend to new bloggers when they’re looking to make some income online?

    For me, that first personal blog that I started, I did that for a year. Then about a year after I started I then did my second blog, which is a photography blog. Because that was successful, I thought, “Hey, if I could have multiple blogs, I could make a lot more money doing this.” That first blog in the early days was making $10-20 per day, and I began to do the sums in my head. If I had ten of these blogs or 20 of these blogs, I could be making a full-time living, so I developed quite a few blogs. I had I think at one stage 25 or 30 blogs that I was posting to every day. To post every day to a lot of those blogs, you have to be coming up with content somehow. For me it was looking at what other people were writing, taking a quote from them, adding a quick comment of my own to it, and then linking back to the source. That was all done manually. There are a lot of tools out there that will do that for you now automatically, but I guess there’s a couple reasons why I stopped. Firstly, I just didn’t find it personally satisfying. Copying and pasting and adding a comment and a link – for me, that just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t want to sit there all day copying and pasting.

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  • why did you start blogging?

    Well, it started about eight years ago now back in November of 2002. Really I started to blog because I saw another guy blogging on a topic that was really interesting to me. He was a guy in Prague, and a lot of the stuff that he was talking about was just stuff that I was interested in, so I was fascinated by what he was saying, but even more fascinated by how he was doing it with this blog thing. I think he was using a Blogspot blog, which is what I started on, and I just was fascinated by the way that that blog enabled him to have a voice and to really be able to draw a community from around the world around that voice. He had thousands of people reading his blog and interacting with the things that he was talking about, and then writing about those things on their own blogs. It was kind of this viral conversation anytime he said anything. That appealed to me as someone who has always been interested in communication and building communities, so I started my own that same day, and that first blog really had no intention of being anything more than a bit of an experiment and perhaps a hobby. So I started my own first blog back in November of 2002, and really grew from there.

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