03 January 2010

Mike CJ Interview - Owner of Mikeslife.org and Co-author of Beyond Blogging

Today, I'm very pleased to have Mike CJ here with us.

Mike is the author of Mike's Life, and blogs about his journey from Hong Kong to the Canary Islands, via Britain. As a professional blogger and author, he has a vision of connecting bloggers with the lifestyle of their dreams.

Hi Mike, great to have you here, could you tell us how you make your living and how long have you been in this industry?

I started blogging in 2008. My wife and I went into it together, with the idea that we would create two blogs and generate two full time, sustainable incomes from blogging. My blog is designed to help other people do the same, and hers is a travel / location blog focused on the island we live on.

I'm very happy to say we succeeded in our aim within six months. Our income on the travel blog comes from affiliate promotions and direct advertising, which is now proving to be quite lucrative, as the blog traffic has grown. And on Mike's Life the income comes from a few affiliate products, but mainly my own.

I also spent the latter part of last year writing Beyond Blogging, which launched on 28th December and has been hugely successful. My co-author on that project was Nathan Hangen.

If you are given the chance to go back in time, what is the single mistake you will not commit again?

The single biggest mistake I made was not starting off with Aweber as my email list provider. I started with a freebie service, and once I'd finally realized I needed an option with autoresponders and good deliverability, I switched. But I lost half of my early sign ups in the process.

Your email subscriber list is the most engaged potential client you have, and I've just witnessed that. When we launched the Beyond Blogging book we gave our own subscribers the chance to buy it 24 hours before the rest of the world. The percentage who took that offer up was 5 times greater than we had with general readers.

So my advice - start an email list, with a professional provider the day you start your blog and live with the expense - it'll pay you back the first time you promote an affiliate or your own product.

What do you think is the biggest problem that new bloggers are facing in the "Make Money from Blogging" niche and how can they overcome it?

I think the biggest problem is the cost of entry into the niche - zero. So many people seem to think you can knock up a website, plaster it with adverts for affiliate products and sit back and watch the cash come in. And when they inevitably fail, they tell the world that you can't make a decent living online!

It isn't like that. I took me three months of working over 100 hours a week to break even. Then another three months of doing the same until I was able to draw a "living wage" from the business. To put it into perspective, my wife wrote nearly 1800 posts on her blog in the first year, and then suddenly, in month nine, people started contacting us to ask to advertise.

It's a great business, and becomes really quite rewarding after a year, but you have to put that work into it, day in and day out. It simply isn't a get rich quick scheme. It's like any other business - you have to work hard for every reader, every subscriber and then sell them stuff that's great value to build their trust. The beauty is that if you do that, you will develop a business that earns you income while you sleep.

What is your favorite revenue stream? Why?

Selling my own products - because the margin is high. My Beginner's Guide to Twitter just sells, every single week, in decent numbers now. I wrote it six months ago, did all the work then, and every morning I get emails telling me I've sold more copies overnight. And it's the same with The Beginner's Guide to Blogging.

I love them because the work is all done, bar the occasional update, and they truly represent a residual income.

It's too early to say with Beyond Blogging - it launched in huge numbers, but as I write this it's only been on the market for 4 days, so we'll see what happens once the initial rush has settled down.

If you can use only one traffic generation technique, what would it be?

Twitter has been very successful for me - I love it, and it brings me a lot of traffic. You'll find me there @mikecj.

You mentioned that you are the co-author of the smash hit book
Beyond Blogging - Would you like to tell us why is it a "must-have"?

Two reasons it's a must-have:

1. It's just a darn good read! Even if you have no interest in blogging, the stories we tell of the 15 biggest bloggers in the world are fascinating. How Pete Cashmore from Mashable built his empire from a back room in his parent's house. How Darren Rowse from Problogger needed a real push from his wife to actually go full-time as a blogger. Each has a great back story, that's worth reading.

2. If you are a blogger, the book will help you to understand what you should be doing, and what direction you should be taking. It comes with a workbook, which prompts you with all the right questions to create your objectives for taking your blog to the next level.

Thank you very much for the interview, do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with us?

Thank you for the chance to talk to your readers. Rather than my words of wisdom, I'll leave you with the five steps we distilled from the bloggers we interviewed for the book:

  • Find your passion
  • Build a platform
  • Build a tribe
  • Sell them something
  • Expand your game
If you need more, then buy the book Beyond Blogging!  :)

Right, Mike is my fellow charter member of ProBlogger.Community and he has only started blogging last year. But he has quickly distinguished himself by having a huge passion for helping and teaching others.

If you like to know more about Mike, just head over to his blog - Mike's Life | Life Can Get Better!

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