Today, I'm very pleased to have Johnny B. Truant here with us.
Johnny came under my radar after reading his guest post on ProBlogger.net. I like the way he writes about his opinion online, he is "just himself" without the "Businessman" mask.
In nine short months, he went from literally making zero cent online to making five figures a month.
Could you describe what you do and how you earn your living?
Ha, those are actually two different questions.
What I do is to write dumb stuff that pops into my head, like my post called "The Awesomest Christmas Post Ever" and about how I'm exactly like Morpheus from The Matrix.
But how I earn my living is from small business consulting, technology coaching, and building Wordpress blogs and websites for people -- mainly small businesses that don't have huge budgets. Isn't that a logical business model?
It works because my goal is to meet as many people as possible and let them get to know me as a person and as a no-BS businessperson.
I'm not kidding; that's seriously my very unprofessional objective. I may do it by writing guest posts on larger blogs like Problogger and Copyblogger, and I may do it through my own blog and Twitter (@johnnybtruant).
But the more people who know and like me, the more people will come to me when they have a need for a blog, or for anything I offer. And the better I am able to do in my business and the more money I make, the more people will hire me as a coach to teach them how to do the same.
When did you first realize the full potential in doing business online?
You're giving me too much credit. I do this by the seat of my pants and seldom know what the hell I'm doing or where I'm going.
That said, it did kind of all only become real to me when I made my first affiliate sale. I referred someone to IttyBiz.com's "Online Business School" product, which was selling for $197 at the time. When my first referral bought it, I got an email from e-junkie that said I'd made a few cents over $100 as a commission on the sale.
Honestly, until that moment, I knew on one level of my brain that you could make money online but never really believed it deep down. When I got that email, I thought, "Holy shit... this can actually be done."
I know you guest post on many "Big Blogs", but other than guest posting, which traffic generation tactic would you use?
That's my biggest one. I suck at SEO and honestly don't even try to do it. I have a mailing list, but I don't use it right.
Number two to guest posting is probably Twitter. Ultimately, without Twitter, I'm not here right now doing this interview. I met my first well-connected friends on Twitter and still do most of my interacting there.
It's how people get to know me -- the same people who end up working with me down the road when they have a need that I can help them with.
What is your favorite revenue stream?
Affiliate marketing. You get the passive thing (i.e. waking up to find you've made money overnight) without having to actually create a product yourself. With affiliate marketing, you're able to piggyback on other people's awesome work and simply help them to spread the word, and get paid to do it.
That said, a lot of people do affiliate marketing "wrong," in my opinion. I'll only refer stuff that I truly like and think will benefit the people I refer to it, and I do it in the most casual, non-sleazy way I can. The Johnny way to do affiliate marketing is akin to running into a friend at a party and saying, "Oh, you need X? You should check out this great product that will help you with X."
What do you think is the "One" thing that "catapults" your success today?
I don't think about this as a business in the normal way people think of a venture as a business -- i.e. something having certain rules, protocols, and normal ways of doing things. Because of that, I do most things "wrong" according to the usual rules of internet marketing.
Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz once told me that a lot of it is "just showing up and being cool". That kind of sums it up for me. I try to show up and be cool, and to nudge my products and those of others when it makes sense.
People see me as an average guy rather than a sleazy jerk, and they tend to like and trust me because of it.
I understand you have an online course - "Zero to Business", would you like to tell us more about it?
Yeah, that fills the basic set of needs I run into most often for the DIY-er. A ton of people want to start an online business but kind of don't know where to start. Maybe they can do email and surf the web, and they're able to learn new stuff if someone will just help them along and tell them what to do.
So, I made like 30 screen capture videos and accompanying text that will essentially walk the online business newbie through everything they need to get their basics covered for a new internet biz, in a way that is easy to understand and do.
You basically just watch me do it, and then repeat for your own accounts. I cover how to launch, use, and pimp out a blog, how to set up a few different kinds of shopping carts and payment processors, how to create and use affiliate programs, how to create, manage, and use a mailing list, and so on.
It's the same kind of thing I'd do for someone in a live technology coaching session, except that it's all recorded and there's a lot more of it, and it's far cheaper -- just over what it'd cost for one hour of my time, actually.
Wait, is that right? That's kind of messed up, but I guess it's true now that I've raised my hourly rate. I should probably raise the price of Z2B, but I suppose I won't because I do everything wrong in this business anyway.
If you could go back in time, name one mistake that you wouldn’t make.
I want to get all metaphysical on you and say that there are no mistakes, and that hence I wouldn't undo any of them. But because that's not terribly helpful, I'll just say that the mechanized, set-it-and-forget-it way that most people try to make money online by using Google AdSense ads didn't work for me at all. AT ALL.
Thank you very much for the interview, do you have any final words of wisdom for aspiring Entrepreneurs looking to start profitable businesses online?
Stop trying so hard to be "businesslike." People can smell BS a mile away, and that distance increases to like 100 miles on the internet. Try a little less talk about paradigms and that yellow highlighter crap and try a bit more to just hang out and be cool, and to present offers when you have them.
Johnny B. Truant is a punk rock small business consultant and Wordpress developer. You can find him and should totally hire him at his website (JohnnyBTruant.com), or you can find hanging out and being cool on Twitter (Twitter.com/JohnnyBTruant), sometimes talking about zombies.