Two of the most popular posts on ProBlogger over the last couple of months were an interview that I conducted in April with author Timothy Ferriss who wrote the best selling book The 4-Hour work Week. Tim’s also been developing a blog as part of his 4-Hour Work Week site and has seen some amazing traffic growth over the last few months.
I thought that it might be time for a follow up interview to see how the book launch has gone and what Tim has been learning about blogging. I hope you enjoy this chat with Tim.
How’s the 4 Hour Work Week Launch Going?
The books is screaming along. It’s been an unexpected and incredible ride thus far. From hitting #1 on the Wall Street Journal list and nailing the NY Times, it’s been a string of firsts for me. I was #2 on the NY Times business bestseller list for June, and the #1 slot was a political book. Very odd. So I’m hoping to move some mountains this week and hit #1 there, which would be a lifelong dream fulfilled. Fun stuff, to be sure.
Congratulations on that – How long have you been blogging now?
My current “real” blog has been up since early April in earnest, so about 3-4 months. I did play with another WordPress blog for a few months before that, but it was mostly to get comfortable with the tools vs. building a reader base. I would say 3-4 months of serious traffic creation and real posts.
Why did you start your 4 hour work week blog and have your reasons for doing it changed since you started?
I started it to create a community, a sense of belonging for not only others… but for myself. I wanted to attract like minded folk to discuss cool topics. More recently, this has moved towards having fun but also catalyzing some serious world change. It sounds ridiculously naive, but I used the blog to help get http://www.donorschoose.org, an educational non-profit, into the finals for American Express’s competition for $1-5 million in funding. There is some serious power in numbers and proactive readers.
I’m also beginning to realize that you can monetize a blog without bastardizing your vision, sacrificing editorial purity, or otherwise “selling out.” There’s no need to sacrifice on either end.
Tell us a little more about how you think this is possible – ie” monetize a blog without bastardizing your vision”
Step one is understanding your readers. by this, i mean defining them psychographically and demographically. What would they buy? Then, it’s a simple matter of finding advertisers who would pay for “sponsor”-level access to this market. Choose someone who belongs to an industry that you’ll likely never write about. Problem solved.
There are certainly other avenues — affiliate programs, Amazon Associates, etc. — that add additional revenue with marginal additional effort. Last, and few bloggers consider this, is launching and offering your own products to your audience. I get hundreds of emails per week requesting the same types of help. There will be online educational modules or other products on the way to help these readers, and I will launch them on the blog.
The aforementioned sources of income would be “direct” income sources from the blog. “Indirect” income sources — those that result from the credibility your blog creates — are much broader and can be even more profitable and fun: speaking gigs for $10-30K, corporate training in foreign countries, etc.
I’ve been watching your alexa ranking and you’ve seen some nice growth (over 10000) – what’s behind it?
It’s just direct response advertising meets PR.
Study the top stories at Digg or MSN.com and you’ll notice a pattern: the top stories all polarize people. Do not try to appeal to everyone. Instead, take a strong stance and polarize people: make some love you and some hate you. Hate is an extreme, but here’s the gist: what you write, in order to create the highest pass-along value, needs to be “remarkable”. Is it something that is worth remarking upon?
If you make it threaten people’s 3 Bs — behavior, belief, or belongings — you get a huge virus-like dispersion. Most of my explosive posts, which have brought in 1000s of new Feedburner subscribers, have nothing to do with my book. “Geek to Freak” is about how I gained 34 lbs. of muscle in 4 weeks. “How to Travel the World with 10 lbs. or Less” is obviously not (though a great case study in how to use Amazon Associates naturally).