Welcome to another entrepreneur interview, where I feature other men and women who have defeated debt, and are making a name for themselves by starting their own business and freelance career.
Make Money Blogging
Today’s interview is with Jim Wang from Microblogger.com, who started a 7-figure site that enabled him to quit his job as a software engineer.
His new site is an outlet to share his journey, and what he’s learned about making money online. He shares insider secrets, tips and tricks so you and I can build successful blogs and businesses.
1. Your blog formed out of a fantastic idea: teaching people to make money from their blog. What convinced you to start Microblogger?
Over the years I’ve met with a lot of people and talked a lot about blogging, I felt it was time for me to put it down “on paper,” so to speak. I’ve been running a personal finance blog for 8+ years and learned a lot during that time.
Starting Microblogger was a good outlet for me to share what I learned and hopefully help others use my struggles and successes.
2. Back when you started Bargaineering, at what point did you know it was time to quit your full-time job?
Bargaineering was doing so well — despite having a 9-to-5 job — that I felt I needed to devote all of my time and attention to it.
I could run it at nights and on weekends but if it ever floundered or fell, I’d feel bad that I didn’t spend more time on it. It was already earning more than my day job, which covered my expenses anyway, so a cushion wasn’t necessary.
3. What’s your plan for Microblogger? Where do you see your business in the next year or two?
My time horizon isn’t that far out, I like to think of things in terms of months rather than years. I’d like to create some really excellent content that people will use for years, but I don’t have a plan for what 2014 or 2015 will bring.
I figure if I write really epic stuff (to borrow a cleaner version of Corbett Barr’s banner concept) and I shout it from the rooftops, I’ll be in good shape in 6 months to a year.
4. What was the initial spark that drew you to blogging? How did you know this was the next step you wanted to take in your professional life?
I love the immediacy of blogging. You write something, you hit publish, and you can reach people. Initially it’s not a lot but eventually that grows.
I wanted to stick with it in some way and this is the best, most productive, way I could think of!
5. What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other writers and freelancers who are looking to quit their job and pursue an online business full time?
You can do it on the side until it gets big enough it demands your full attention. It’ll be tough, working a 9-to-5 and then another 9-to-5 but nothing good comes easy.
Go after it as hard as you can until you feel like you can’t, then go after it some more.
6. How do you find new topics to tackle on your blog, especially when other people believe it’s near impossible to make an income from blogging?
There are so many aspects of blogging that the subject is near endless. It’s not impossible to make an income from your blog but it isn’t easy, you really need to work long and hard before you will start to see results.
Along the way you get better at so many things, and those things easily become topics we can cover at Microblogger.
7. What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone looking to create a revenue generating blog?
- The niche you select is absolutely crucial. You need to pick one where revenue generation is possible and that you have a keen interest in. They say you should do what you love, and I agree 100%. The problem is, that sometimes you can’t earn an income from what you love — so be smart about what you love. That said, you need to pick something you do enjoy because if you don’t make any money, at least you were doing something you love.
- Writing is the most important skill you can have, and it’s something that will improve with practice. Write a ton, edit, and then edit it again. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect but it does make better.
- It’s mostly about marketing and getting the word out about your blog. If you write for an hour, spend another five getting the word out. You have to find kind souls like you, Carrie, who are willing to interview you even though the blog doesn’t have a thousand visitors an hour.
8. Why do you think people struggle with making money directly from their blog(s)? What are some mistakes you’ve seen?
The biggest mistake is expecting to make money quickly and then being discouraged when it doesn’t happen on that time table. A blog takes a long time.
Bargaineering didn’t make a hundred dollars total until the sixth month. Six months of days where the site made ten cents, fifteen cents, twenty-one cents. If I did it for the money, I would’ve quit a long time ago.
They also don’t know what to do. It’s so confusing and so many competing voices out there. I think they should follow a few bloggers they respect and see what they’re doing, rather than what they’re saying.
9. Do you have a strong community of other bloggers and entrepreneurs who you talk to when you need help?
Yes, I’m actually part of a few small communities and they’re great for different reasons. I think having friends in your same blogging niche is crucial, it’s great to bounce ideas off each other and share in the struggle.
It’s also good to talk often with folks who may not be in your niche but are still bloggers, there is so much we can learn from each other.
10. How has your family’s support impacted you in your entrepreneurial work?
I couldn’t do it without them! I think that’s true for every entrepreneur. It’s like anything else, sometimes you have bad days, days when you couldn’t overcome the one hurdle you faced, and you need that support system to keep you up when you feel like collapsing.
Blogging may sound like this fun little side hobby but when it becomes your business, it’s just like work. You may keep all the spoils but you also carry all the stress, a good supportive family can help carry the load.