Today I am very pleased to conduct an interview with superstar blogger and all round Good Guy: Yaro Starak from Become a Blogger!
I have known Yaro for sometime and he has always been an inspiration – indeed, when I was starting up RetireAt21.com Yaro was one of the very first Big Names to give me an interview.
If there was ever an example of someone living the Internet Lifestyle, traveling the world and making lots of money doing it then it is Yaro. But more important that all that as you will discover in this podcast, Yaro is also very generous of spirit and a tremendous giver – and frankly a great example to all of us and how we should live our lives for the higher good.
I give Yaro and his products, especially his Highly Recommended Blog Mastermind and his more recent Become A Blogger Premium Program which he created along side Gideon Shalwick my highest recommendation.
The Become A Blogger Premium Program is the perfect Step-Up program for anyone who has followed my How To Make Money Blogging eCourse.
PLEASE NOTE: I have managed to secure a $1 trial of Become A Blogger Premium Program! – So Test It Out Today!
Enjoy this Podcast or read the transcription below – I look forward to your feedback.
Michael Dunlop: Your most known for your blog, Entrepreneurs-Journey.com and making money blogging. Would you like to give us a brief introduction how you actually started making money from blogging?
Yaro Starak: Sure. I will give you the short version because it could be a long story otherwise. I have been making, or at least running some sort of Internet based business, for almost 10 years now. I started while I was in university. I was given a free dial-up Internet access account back in 1998. That is when I started playing around with websites.
That led me to building my first profitable venture, the first website that made money. It was a website I built on a card game I used to play as a teenager called Magic the Gathering. I built a little fan site for it and started sticking up advertisements in there.
I made up to about $500 a month, so it wasn’t huge money, but it was pretty awesome as a university student to have that income stream. So I never had to get a part-time job or anything like that.
That was during the sort of dotcom boom area, so I started getting really interested in starting some sort of startup company that hopefully would get bought out for millions of dollars.
That didn’t happen. But it did lead me to start lots of different ventures. A few years later I found myself running an online proofreading business where I wasn’t the proofreader. I basically connected professional proofreaders with university students, particularly international university students. So I had a nice little business going there.
Someone told me that blogs were great for search engine rankings, so that is actually the main reason why I started — or at least investigated — blogging, was to start one for that proofreading business.
It was a short-lived experiment because I really did not like writing about that subject, proofreading. It is quite a boring subject. But I did enjoy playing with blogging. So what happened is I just switched it over from a slash blog at that proofreading website to what now is Entrepreneurs Journey and started to write pretty much what I enjoyed talking about, which is entrepreneurship, Internet business, just business in general, a little bit of self development; that sort of subject area. And four and a half years later I am still doing it, so it hasn’t stopped.
There is so much conflicting advice out there about making money blogging. What is the biggest thing new bloggers should stay away from right now?
Yaro: Well I think the biggest mistake, or at least the biggest attitude shift that people need to make, is the idea of quick money and a get rich quick scheme sort of idea with blogging, or with anything online really.
If people are looking to start making an income, there is really nothing out there that will make you quick money. You might make quick money because you get lucky, but very unlikely will it be sustained.
So I think a lot of people enter the making money with blogging area with sort of a desperation in their attitude, which is understandable. You might have just lost your job or you hate your job and you need to find an income stream, and you have got this sense of urgency or sense of panic. And when you are in that sort of mentality, people generally tend to look for quick money.
And unfortunately that is the absolute opposite of what they should be doing. You should look at this as a business and make that decision as you do starting any business. It should be something you do a bit of research in. You should be learning a lot and not expecting instant results and building something over time.
That has been my philosophy with blogging as well. It is certainly possible to start getting results quickly, but if you need to be making $2,000 by the end of the month and you are hoping that some sort of online business, blogging for example, is the way to that, then I would adjust your expectations and have a fail safe. Get yourself a part time job first. This is what I did. I had a part-time job as I built up my blog. And eventually, that blog will become a full-time income source and become much more than a full-time income source. For me today it is a multiple six figure business. It is a center point of that.
But I have had to do some work. I have had to focus on what I think are my core strengths. I have had to learn a hell of a lot about running an Internet business and how to be consistent. So there are a lot of lessons to go through, and definitely a lot of education needed. But as long as you have got the right mindset, and really I think that is what I am talking about here, is having the right mindset about what you are doing, you will succeed.
Once you learned how to make money blogging, I understand you then decided to create a membership website teaching people exactly how you have done that. How did you go about creating your first membership website and attracting your first paying customers?
Yaro: It is a bit insidious, that is, isn’t it? You hear of people making money and then they start a program to teach people how to make money, and then they start a program to teach how they teach to make money. So it can be quite insidious like that.
But I actually just wrote an article to my blog regarding this subject. No one should every feel bad because they are making money doing something and also making money teaching somebody how to do it.
That makes a lot of sense. If I was an investor in real estate, I would make money buying and selling property, and I would also make money teaching people how to buy and sell property if I was good at it.
The key there is being good at something. So in my case, I noticed that I was actually getting good at blogging. My income started at like $500 a month, then $1,000 a month, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000.
When I started seeing $10,000 a month, I’m going, “Whoa. There is a six figure income here.” Even before that, even at $4,000 a month, this is a salary. This is what most people dream of; quit their job, write to an Internet business a couple of hours a day of work, and a lot of freedom, a lot of free time. So I thought, “Wow. This is something that people want.”
So that was when I definitely decided, “OK. I can definitely have an angle here, first of all because I have done it and I have enough to teach.” So that was the belief I had to really have first.
That is pretty important, because a lot of people try to start teaching or selling products on how to do something when they haven’t done it. So credibility and authenticity is really critical.
So once I had the proof and I had done it, I made some money over many, many months and I had quit my job and I had paid for my house, and all this sort of stuff, I really felt that I was in a situation to start teaching as well.
I should also say that I was studying Internet marketing as well. I just love the idea of information publishing and selling your expertise. So I did some research. And I had a lot of false starts. I started an e-book. It took me six months to pretty much write it or get about 80 percent of the way through. Then I started playing with the technology to deliver it and it just took so long.
And after a year of pretty much false starts, I said, “All right. This is ridiculous.” I finally had someone say, “Membership sites are the way to go,” and I saw what they were doing and I said, “All right. The next two months I am going to sit down, get the membership site out the door, and actually have a product,” because I had heard over and over again two pieces of advice from Internet marketers. One, have a list, and two, have a product.
So obviously, I need to heed those wise words as a blogger, because bloggers don’t naturally build email lists, and they rarely produce products. And I wanted to be a very successful Internet marketer, not just a successful blogger. I wanted to use my blog to take me to the next level.
So I did launch that up-logging training program. It is called blogmastermind.com. It was quite a quick rollout, actually, once I finally put the pieces together and really committed to it. I had studied Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula.” I had studied Mike Filsaime’s “Butterfly Marketing.” I had his software.
I played with some scripts. I eventually installed, for my first launch of a membership site I used Butterfly marketing to deliver the product. I did a launch. I rolled out through, I guess, sort of the Jeff Walker technique. There was definitely a lot of influence from Jeff Walker and his techniques for launching products, and a lot of influence from some other people. I modeled their membership sites. Andrew and Dell Grant Pearson; they are some well known marketers here in Australia.
So I sort of combined those two and mixed in my own sort of style. Obviously I had a blog that was successful, so I used that as my launch pad and rolled out this membership site. I opened up for, I think it was a week at an introductory price, $47 a month. I think within the first week I got almost 400 members.
I had no idea what to expect. I was looking at 50 members as what I would call successful because that would be enough people where I would be making a couple grand a month. I was happy to teach the program.
The great thing about the model I used was I didn’t have to create the product until I started the members. I only had a little bit of product created. So I just spent the next six months teaching those 400 people creating the product, and within six months I could reopen it again. So it is a fantastic model and I really do recommend it to anyone.
You just touched on creating a mailing list. Do you have any tips on how bloggers should go about doing that?
Yaro: Well am I big, big fan of AWeber. I have been using their service for almost as long as I have been blogging. They are my email newsletter service. I have got almost 60,000 people on them, on my different email lists.
It is the basis of my business. Everything is through that list. So my advice to anyone listening is sign up to AWeber. If you don’t like AWeber for some crazy reason, Getresponse would be the next choice I would recommend.
You definitely want some sort of dedicated email auto responder that is focused on that and that alone and really has good delivery, good features in terms of what it can do with segmenting email lists and using follow up sequences, and moving one person from one list to the other; all these kind of features you get with services like AWeber and Getresponse.
And then the next thing I recommend you do is get an opt-in box on your blog. That is the obvious thing to do as the first step to start building that list. Create some kind of incentivized offer like a free report, or an email course, or a series of videos or audios; something that is a clear offer of value in exchange for that person entering their name and email.
Put that box on your blog somewhere at the very top, left side, right side, or maybe use a pop up if you want to do that, or both, those sorts of things, and start getting people who are targeted onto an email list.
Even if you don’t know what product you are going to release, starting that list now will mean, when you do have a book you have written or you had someone else write, or you do a membership site, or even if you just record 10 videos and sell that for $50, you have got a list to start selling to, as well as your blog. So you have got two ways to communicate with people. That is the strongest piece of advice I can give you right now if you are just getting started in this game.
So you make money from blogging and then you teach people how to make money from blogging. And then you have taught people how to make money from a membership website. Which makes you more money and why?
Yaro: I told you it was insidious, isn’t it? And now I can start the membership site…
Michael: Wait, wait. Let me just make this clear to everyone, actually. Yaro is a good guy. I can’t count the amount of times my Dad has called me down and said, “Hey, you have got to check this thing Yaro is doing.” Yaro is one of the top guys in the business and you can trust this guy. All right. You can carry on.
Yaro: To clarify all this, I could not even start my blog…If you want to go back to the real reason I am successful is I spent, before that four and a half years, five and a half years starting different websites and businesses. Some were successful; some were not.
They gave me the experience to create valuable content to write a blog on entrepreneurship. I can tell you right now, if we really want to say which one is the most profitable business, I have to say it is my blog, because the membership sites don’t exist without the blog.
I may not derive directly as much income from the blog. It is the membership sites that, in terms of cash flow, if I was to show you my accounting books, will show you much more money. But I don’t have any credibility, I don’t have any audience, I don’t have any relationships, I don’t have anything that gave me the leverage to launch those membership sites without the blog.
So there is a chicken and egg relationship here. You have got to build the blog first or some way of getting attention, getting an audience before you can have success releasing your own products like a membership site.
In my case, to create value or get some traffic back to me, get some attention, I had to have stories to tell. If you look back at my blog, you could go back to the first two years and you could see I was talking about my proofreading business. I was talking about running an English school which was in the real world. So I talked about how to find office space to run the English school, how to get clients, how to do gorilla marketing and putting up posters to advertise my proofreading business.
Before that it was the hobby website. So I talked about how to get forums populated and building a popular forum and how to put banners on websites and make money from banner advertising. So every experience I had I started to regurgitate onto the blog, and that created the value in the first place.
So it is easy now today to sort of look at the surface outcome and the surface situation and sort of think, “Yeah, wait a second. This guy is teaching how to make money using a blog that is on how to make money, and then he is teaching how to make money blogging on a membership site, and then he is teaching how to make membership sites and how to make money off that. That doesn’t sound right.”
But there is a sequence of events and there is value. Obviously no one would give me money if they weren’t getting any value from what I teach. And honestly, I couldn’t teach what I teach if I hadn’t done it. And that is the key here.
So first impressions can be a bit deceiving sometimes. So make sure you look and try and see what people are teaching you, first of all, for free. I always tell people, “Don’t join any of my programs or anything like that until you have read the free stuff I give, because that will give you an indication whether or not I am helpful to you.”
So read my free reports. Read my blog. Watch my videos. Listen to my audios. And then you will know whether it is of value to you or not.
You mentioned earlier that you are only opened your first blogging course, Blog Mastermind, for only a few days. Is there any reason why you only opened it for a few days, and how has it impacted on business?
Yaro: Well to clarify, the very first opening of Blog Mastermind was actually opening at a price for only a few days. So the first seven days it was $47. Then it bumped to $77. But it remained open and then I closed it a few months later after that. And it stayed closed for about four or five months while I was traveling overseas. I reopened it while I was overseas.
To cut a long story short, there is a reason why you do…Well there are multiple reasons, but let’s talk about the marketing first. Scarcity is by far the most powerful trigger point as a marketing tool.
People tend to fence it and they leave things for later. If there is a sense of urgency, a sense of scarcity, a need to actually make a decision, that is more likely to trigger them to making that decision.
In my experience, making something limited in terms of availability is the best way, and obviously also having a price incentive. If they save themselves 30 percent a month joining now rather than joining tomorrow, that is a simple decision and it will force them to make a decision, too.
On top of that, there are certain strategies I teach with membership sites. I am not the only person who uses these things, but if you develop a membership site over time…Like I said before, I launch my site with maybe 10 percent of the content of the membership site ready and then I build it over the next six months.
So the other justification for offering a lower price is you have a charter group. So the first group of members is getting a cheaper rate because they are actually helping you create the product. They are going through the lessons as you create them, or whatever content you produce. If it is not a teaching program, whatever the case is, and they are giving you feedback. So they are telling you, “I like this. I didn’t like this,” and that is very valuable.
So you reward that feedback they give you with a discount. And then when you reopen it it is a complete course. So when I close my program down and then when I open it again several months later, I have an entire program ready to actually sell. So I can sell it as an upfront product as well as a membership site.
That is benefit worth nothing. You usually make more money, or you certainly make easier money, on the second run through, depending on how you go, simply because you can sell the product as a standalone product as well as a membership site. So there are all kinds of subtle things like that that go into doing a launch.
You mentioned two great pieces of advice you have given, which has obviously impacted on your business. What advice would you give to someone else who wants to start their business?
Yaro: Well the first thing is to start.
Michael: Yep. Just do it!
Yaro: Yep. It is amazing how many of these interviews you might listen to from people who are making any kind of money online, or even offline, and the first thing they will say is do something. Take action.
So let’s just assume that you are going to take action. I find there are a couple of really big sticking points people have. Mindset is one thing. This is something that is difficult, because mindset is your set of beliefs, the way you have been brought up, the people you associate with, how you think. This is something that can be very difficult to change. And often you don’t realize how your thinking is actually holding you back. So what I recommend to deal with the mindset issue is actually education is huge.
That can be for free. You can get out there and just watch what other people do, read other blogs, read free reports, study videos, study audios. You don’t want to do that forever. Definitely, as we mentioned before, take action.
So a little bit of study to give you that general awareness. This is important because there is a phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and that is the first thing you have to deal with.
So that education helps you to understand what you don’t know and become aware of it. And that gives you at least the awareness. And then you can decide what part you actually do need to learn. So it is important to do that first.
Secondly, after mindset, this is just a thing for the Internet-technology. It is a necessary evil. If we want to make money on the Internet, we have to do websites. We have to use email auto responders like AWeber. There are a lot of technical issues, especially for people who are brand new to the Internet, to struggle with, because it is just scary. People are scared of HTML code, or CSS, or servers, or FTP, and all these things that, for people that are not technically savvy, just make you want to run and hide.
So the piece of advice I recommend to a lot of people, if you are resonating there with what I am saying, is to actually outsource straight away. Acknowledge the fact that you are not good with technology and say, “Listen. I want my website to look like that, but I want my photo there instead, or something like that,” and just have someone else build it for you. It is going to cost you a bit of money up front, but it will save you a lifetime of headaches.
If you are technically able, just be careful you don’t spend too much time focusing on the technology, because in my experience, I started my blog and actually installed it myself. I started playing with scripts and plug-ins. I did a lot of work in the sort of first…Well, even before my blog I spent probably three or four years playing with technology. And the first year or so of blogging I did a lot myself, and it slowed me down tremendously.
I play with my blog design and I am not a good web designer. It is not a strength of mine. So I would spend four or five days to do something that takes an hour for someone who is good at it. So it doesn’t make sense. It slows down your success. I really recommend you look for people and partner with people, hire people, outsource the people who are good at technology if that is not your strong point. And that will just accelerate your progress really, really quickly.
If you had to start all over again and you could get in a time machine, what would you tell yourself? What would you do differently to make more money online?
Yaro: To make more or to make quicker?
Michael: Up to you.
Yaro: Like I said, there were a couple of things, as I mentioned before, with the technology that slowed me down. So obviously I would outsource a lot quicker than I did now and learn to find my strengths quicker, too.
I think there was an issue, and this is emoting we all face when we don’t have a market. I noticed a lot of my students have this issue. They haven’t got a niche yet and they are trying to discover what it is they can make money with, and also what they want to spend time working on. It is tough to get those to line up together.
Often you can find a niche that is making money, but it is about some weird thing like fish tanks. And frankly, unless you are a fish tank fan, it is boring as all hell, so you are just doing it for the money. For me, that is not what it is about. It is also about really caring about the subject matter.
So there is a bit of a balance there. One of the key learnings I did, and this is only in the last couple years, was to really reflect on what it is I wanted to do for my business. What is the role I wanted? Did I want to write my content? Did I want to make my websites? Did I want to be doing regular coaching calls? Did I want to attend events and speak on stage?
All these opportunities were being presented to me and I know what I wanted to do and what my strengths are. In my case, I like to create content, but really I want to focus in writing online. And a little video, a little audio, but writing is my main thing.
So I tried to then take every other component of my business and get other people to do it, and also choose the opportunities that let me leverage that and sort of skip the ones that I don’t want to do right now.
I have said no to an awful lot of speaking gigs simply because I don’t want to travel around that much. Going back further though, if you are right at the start of this adventure, you need to figure out what your market is. So make sure you do a couple of things.
I would go back and do more extensive research on topics that can you money. I tend to do things like a war of attrition. I will pick a subject that I like and just keep hammering away at it, hoping that it will eventually make money.
I have had a couple of failures because of that. I had a website called youngactivists.com many, many years ago before I started blogging. I spent about six months just playing with the HTML to get it to look pretty like a magazine. This is before blogs were available and no WordPress or anything like that.
I launched the website. I wrote a couple of articles for it and then no one ever read it. And I lost interest completely because of that. I basically through six months worth of development work, because I was just having fun doing the development. I can talk about it now as a little case study of what not to do. That is the biggest extent of the advantage I got from doing that.
Pick your opportunities wisely. Don’t jump into anything too quickly. I would definitely gravitate to the money, but make sure you like the subject as well. I said this at the beginning, but find things you can really see a future for yourself in, unless you are just planning on building and flipping. Some people, that is their strength. They can just see where money is, create something to get in front of that money, and then just sell it. That is fine too if you love that aspect of what you are doing. I would definitely heed that if you are just starting this at the beginning of blogging or making money online, whatever you are doing at the moment.
One thing any reader of your site will know is you have traveled a lot and you live a pretty cool lifestyle. What is the top thing about being an Internet entrepreneur and living the Internet lifestyle?
Yaro: The freedom is the keyword and everyone will agree with me here. Freedom is what we all want. It is funny. People will sort of ask, “What do you want from your life?” I think there are a lot of different words to describe things.
Some people will say, “I want experience. That is what I want to do.” That is true. I think we all want to experience things in our life. We all want different experiences. Some of us love traveling. Some of us just want to stay home with our kids and not have to work. Some of us want to be constantly educating ourselves and hanging out with superstars, so they want to get on the speaking tour and meet people and become famous.
For all that to happen, you have to have the freedom to do so. So the reason why I love what I do is I have an income stream that is largely independent of me as long as I do a handful of core activities, which I have chosen to do and I want to do.
I love writing blog posts. And as long as I still love that, I get a lot of leverage out of it, so it builds my audience. And those people eventually, some of them, buy my products. They help me buy affiliate products. They click my advertisements and allow me to get sponsors, so I am able to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from collectively 10 hours a week worth of work. So that is a fantastic return on investment there and the rest of the time is what I want it to be.
I traveled for eight months of the year last year. I really want to see a lot of places and do this sort of Internet running a business, see family in Canada, see Europe for the first time. And I did that. It was great, but now I want to stay at home and really settle in. At least this year I am not going to be doing any traveling beyond Sydney and Melbourne close to where I am now.
It is great that I have this freedom. I just bought a new apartment in the suburb I have wanted to live in for all my life. Everything is great in that regard. I have been watching a lot of DVDs, watching “Entourage.” I play tennis. There is no such thing as the weekend for me because everyday can be a weekend if I want to. But when there is a product launch to do, I love doing that too.
We just rolled out a reopening of a blog training program called “Become a Blogger” and that was a lot of fun. I love doing that as well as making the money. And let’s not forget, it is great to have people who appreciate and recognize what you are doing.
So whether there are people who just read your blog for free, whether there are people who buy your products and benefit from that, either way it is nice to have recognition for your work. So there is an element there that needs to be considered, too, especially if you are a teacher, or a mentor, or a coach, or some kind of leader in a marketplace. There is a lot of kudos there that I think people desire as a core human motivation for what you do in your life.
So those are the things: freedom, recognition, and enough money to do what you want when you want, good friends, travel if you want to; that is wonderful stuff.
Quick fire questions just to finish off this interview, just to learn a bit more about you.
What do you like most about the Internet?
Yaro: I like the globalness of it. I am amazed that I can now keep in touch with people around the world and people around the world know me. It is impressive. I land it all kinds of cities around the world and there are people who want to meet up with me just because of my blog, and that is incredible.
Like what we are doing right now. Where are you?
Michael: I am in England.
Yaro: Yeah. How far away is that from Brisbane? Like halfway around the world. So look what we are doing now. You sound like you are my next door neighbor. It is incredible.
What do you like least about the Internet?
Yaro: I would say as a health concern there are some issues with it. People tend to spend a lot of time staring at a monitor, often sitting hunched over and squinting at code. That is not good, people!
I have actually taken steps to avoid that now. I have a stand up desk and I am actually talking to you standing up right now. I am not sitting in a chair. I have got a massive screen; a 30-inch cinema display from MAC.
I don’t sit here too long because I know from the past, especially when I used to design my web pages, I got sore eyes, and that was not a good sign for a guy in your 20s. You don’t want to be getting sore eyes, so I made some changes.
Anyone listening to this definitely watch your body and your eyes when you are using the computer for long periods of time.
I know you have met a lot of really cool people. Is there anyone you look up to or model yourself on?
Yaro: Well in the Internet marketing community I do really admire a lot of guys. I mentioned Jeff Walker from Product Launch Formula. Rich Schefren from Strategic Profit. That is his company, and particularly his Internet Business Manifesto and the Coaching Program behind that. That was really good. I did that.
All the Internet Marketers: Frank Kern, Mike Filsaime, John Reese. Evan Pagan has been huge for me recently. I have been studying a lot of his stuff. These guys in particular — I don’t have heroes in my industry. The heroes, I think, are people you don’t see very much, the doctors, the nurses, and the people working in third world countries and saving lives. That is what I think is heroism.
But because I am interested in Internet marketing, as mentors, those guys I really connect with because we share the same interests, and I model what they are doing. I don’t even necessarily have to take their teaching program, but I study what they are doing. I study how they do it.
I might buy their product just to see how they deliver it and what they teach because it is very relevant to me. And let’s face it. We are all in the same industry, so we can be friends, and that is the community. Community is another, I think, thing that I think is really important to us as human beings. So those guys are really important to me.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Yaro: I am going to get a bit spiritual here, but I think some of the stuff you might learn goes way beyond what we are talking about. If you study anything like Eckhart Tolle and living in the now, that basically you are in charge of everything and what happens to you…You are how you think.
Mindset is ridiculously important. You can be happy 100 percent of the time, no matter what circumstances you are in, even if you are not making a cent online, if you choose to be. I have read a lot of good advice from authors and spiritual leaders.
If you really want an interesting read, just go into Google and type, “What is the meaning of life?” And you will get some really interesting stuff there. That is where I think I get the best advice.
Thanks very much, Yaro, for this interview. Are there any plans or personal business that you would like to share with us?
Yaro: No, not really. Obviously you mentioned my blog already. If you want to find what I do, just Google my name. I find that is the easiest way. It is Yaro, and you will get my blog.
I think there is one piece of advice I will end with. If you are in any sort of teaching space, take a leaf out of Michael’s book here and get on a podcast like this or an interview and talk to someone, record it, and stick it up on your blog or your website as an interview, because what Michael is doing now is actually one of the key things I did to grow my blog. So definitely a powerful tip. I will end with that one.
Thanks Yaro — as I said in my introduction, you are an amazing inspiration and I love your comments about LIVING IN THE NOW — I shall check out Eckhart Tolle.
Find out more about Yaro at:
Become A Blogger Premium Program
Highly Recommended Blog Mastermind