Wow, the past 22 months have been a blur. Back in January of 2012 my wife, Lisa, asked me to help her manage her blog (100 Days of Real Food) because it was getting overwhelming. Traffic had grown to about 13 X that of the previous year, and she felt she was losing out on money she could be making.
While I’d been supportive of her blog since it’s inception in May of 2010, acting as editor and proofing every single post, I’d maintained distance. This was her project, and I didn’t want to get sucked into it. I had my own job and interests to attend to, after all. But I agreed to help, and started to research the completely unknown (to me) world of blogging and online business. “Monetize” was added to my vocabulary, since that was apparently my new night job.
Let me stress that I had no idea what I was doing. I was hesitant to click around in the WordPress back-end for fear I would totally screw up the website. Lisa had somehow managed to get a couple network ads on the blog after attending a blogging conference, but she couldn’t even explain to me how she had done it or who the points of contact were at the ad networks. So my first questions were why had revenue plummeted after the New Year? Did our traffic go down? Umm, how do I even check that? This was going to be harder than I thought.
A few months later a random dude walked through our back yard one evening to introduce himself. Upon realizing he was not a threat, but actually our new neighbor, we went through the standard “getting to know you” questions including what we do for work. At the time I was a “Sales Executive” at Siemens Industry attempting to sell building automation systems to healthcare and higher ed clients. Yeah it was about as exciting as it sounds, and I was beginning to realize I sucked at it. Since college I’d been moving from (professional) job to job every few years, just soul searching, desperately trying to find something that matched my skills and interests and that, well, didn’t involve working for someone else. Lisa stumbled through explaining what her work was all about. “Food blogger” is not a response most people expect, and naturally it invokes wonder and conversation. Upon hearing about her online presence, the new neighbor told us about Pat Flynn’s income reports on SmartPassiveIncome.com, and that night I checked them out.
A Fire Is Lit
Holy smokes. Pat Flynn was making some serious jack, to the tune of $50k a month. Maybe this little job offer from Lisa had more opportunity than some extra cash on the side. Maybe this could be my way out of the rat race. My intense desire for freedom and my persistent nature were about to be unleashed with laser-like focus. And so the adventure began, and proceeded with twists and turns and false starts and mistakes and lessons learned and insights and epiphanies and new relationships and new ways of thinking, and, thankfully, some considerable checks along the way.
But as I become more familiar with the blogosphere and the various “making money online” gurus, I was astonished at how hard it was to get answers to my questions. I even hired a few consultants and went to a blogging conference, and while I was learning some things, I still would stump people with my questions. I would get really frustrated. It all felt like the Wild West, with us blazing our own trail. Every time I looked at our traffic I saw lost opportunity, and I felt that every day I didn’t figure this thing out was one more day I’d be stuck in a corporate job.
Freedom at Last
So out of necessity I started to experiment (a lot). I quickly fell in love with the fast feedback loop an online presence provides. Rather than researching the hell out of some decision you can just try it and see how it works. Don’t know the answer to something? Hey put together your best guess and try. The way my mind processed information literally changed. I was no longer thinking like an engineer, I was thinking like an entrepreneur, and I loved it. Oh and did I mention I quit my corporate job 7 months after Lisa asked me for help, realizing a 15 year dream? It was and is every bit as kick-ass as I thought it would be, and fortunately I finally have a sense of fulfillment in my work.
The Birth of Pro Blog School
Fast-forward to now, and I am just floored at how much we’ve learned in such a short amount of time, and how the blog, and now our team, continue to grow. Given how much I love to talk about online business, as well as my desire to help others avoid reinventing the wheel, I decided to start Pro Blog School. The blog and associated materials will discuss how we’ve accomplished everything to date along with updates on what’s going on with the business side of 100 Days of Real Food in real time. To think what I would have given a few years ago for a behind the scenes look at what it takes to grow a personal blog into a family business!
I’ve got a lot of good stuff planned so make sure you subscribe to email updates and like my Facebook page (I suggest setting up notifications as well) to stay in the loop. It may be a little slow going at first since I still run operations at 100 Days of Real Food (I actually wear a lot of hats), but I am working hard to automate and delegate as much as possible to free up my time for this project. It’s going to be fun, and I’m glad you’re here for the ride.