We’re really excited to interview Jim Wang of Microblogger today. In 2005 he started what turned out to be a 7-figure personal finance blog that enabled him to quit his day-time job as a software engineer. Today he’s sharing some amazing insight into how to make your blog work for you. Happy reading!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
My business now is a blog called Microblogger, where I hope to capture everything I learned in building Bargaineering, a 7-figure personal finnace blog. I started it because I would often have phone calls or meetings with entrepreneurs, both bloggers and other businesses, and I felt like I was answering the same questions over and over again. I had no problem doing so, and most of the fun in these meetings was learning what other people were doing, but I felt like if I was answering the same questions repeatedly, why not put it down on paper? That’s how Microblogger got started.
What has been your most successful marketing strategy to date?
With Bargaineering, the site began before there was a big personal finance niche. There were about ten personal finance back then and no one was “big,” in the sense that they were well known. I tried to remain a fixture in that community and network with everyone, whether they were one of the old guys like me or someone brand new looking to start a site. I never said no to a phone call, even if they started a blog yesterday, because I really enjoyed meeting people. By being a part of the community, with no desire for anything in return, it became easier for me to do outreach – emailing bloggers to do guest posts, starting the radio show with JD Roth, trying to get guests on a radio show I started with JD Roth, etc.
So many people want to make a living from their blog but seem to reach a stumbling block after a year or two. Is there a common mistake you see people making with their blogs that prevents them from quitting their day job?
Not treating it like a business and having a plan. Pick any competitive activity and the people who do well are the ones who practice and train. In grade school, you can get by on raw talent and natural physical ability. As you get older, training and practice start to separate the people who succeed and those who don’t. How do you train and practice? You have a plan and you adhere to it. When people say they’re “getting serious” about something, it means they’re starting a plan and promising to adhere to it.
The same is true for any business, especially a blog. What is your plan? What are your milestones? How do you measure your progress? How do you know how to adjust that progress? You can’t just wing it.
How long did it take you to turn your site into a ‘success’?
Success, and really happiness, is all about expectations right? My expectation was to start a site that might make a little money, for a vacation a year, and so that didn’t happen the first calendar year. I had some non-monetary successes, being featured in the New York Times, that first year but nothing that resulted in significantly more income. It wasn’t until the second year that things started rolling. Fortunately, my expectations weren’t that this would become my full time job. That wouldn’t happen until 2008, almost three years later.
That’s why it’s important to have a plan in which you have SMART milestones (goals). Measure yourself against those milestones, and use those minor successes as motivation, because “success” will take a bit of time.
You’ve been a full-time blogger for quite a few years now. Do you foresee any big chances coming soon to the world of professional blogging? Something that piques your interest in terms of monetizing a site or reaching new audiences?
Blogging has made a big shift the last few years, especially with Google’s algorithm changes. Bloggers are going to have to put a lot more personality into their sites and rely more heavily on building a community, rather than relying on search engine traffic. Google has made it clear that it’s not a fan of “content farms” and a lot of blogs have a business model where they rely on search to drive new visitors. Word of mouth, social, and those engines of growth will be driving blogs going forward. Search will have to be supplemental.
Don’t forget to check out more of Jim Wang’s advice at Microblogger.