Yaro Starak is an acclaimed blogger and Internet entrepreneur from Australia, Brisbane. He joins the show to discuss how people can make more than $10,000 a month just by sitting in front of their laptops. He follows up by discussing Tim Ferris’ book, “4-Hour Work Week”. Yaro has been creating, buying and selling internet assets since 1998. He teaches people how to make a full-time income from blogging part time through his Blog Mastermind coaching program and how to launch online membership sites through his Membership Site Mastermind course.
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Start of Interview with Yaro Starak
Jason Hartman: Hey it’s my pleasure to welcome Yaro Starak to the show. He is an acclaimed blogger and internet entrepreneur from Australia and he is coming to us today from Melbourne. Yaro welcome, how are you?
Yaro Starak: I am well, thank you Jason. Thank you for having me.
Jason Hartman: Good, the pleasure is all mine. So give us a little bit of your background real quickly and how you got to where you are now, and then let’s kind of go back and look at some of the things that made it all work.
Yaro Starak: No problem. The problem with my background story is I’ve been online since 1998 now and that’s a long time in internet years, so there’s a long version and a really long version of my background story, but I’ll try and keep it short for you. I started online thanks to university. They gave me a free internet account which led to starting my first website about a card game I used to play in high school and in university and that led to having my first little online business, which was a card shop and a trading forum. And then that led to, I guess, a really strong interest in a business online. So the dot com boom was happening, I wanted to have something a bit bigger, so I started a proof reading service. Basically I was acting as a middle man between university students and lecturers and PhDs, people who were helping them with their academic writing. And that was my sort of main business for a number of years after I graduated from university.
And as part of running that business, I was exposed to this thing called blogging in the year 2004 and I then installed a blog on my proof reading business and discovered that writing about proof reading is a really dry and boring subject. But writing a blog about running a business and everything to do with being an entrepreneur online was very interesting to me so I registered the entrepreneurs-journey.com blog intending it to be a hobby because the domain name is way too long and it’s got a hyphen in it. But it was something to play with, and 8 years later I am still writing that blog. It became my main business, I sold everything else I was doing and I basically teach people how to make money blogging and continue to write my own blog.
Jason Hartman: So your modernization strategy then through entrepreneurs-journey is to sell advice and educational products, info products, right?
Yaro Starak: It is. It’s changed and it’s basically been a combination of things over the year. And I first started, like most people do, with advertising. And that was just putting banners on my site. I tried Google’s AdSense program because a lot of my blogging peers were using it, but it wasn’t great for my site. I only made like a dollar a day. And I had much better results actually selling advertising directly to my sponsors. Then I got into affiliate marketing, which is basically what you’re saying. I found software services, and programs and events that I liked and would recommend it to my audience. I had a newsletter by then too, so I would recommend things through my e-mail newsletter and make money from the commissions from that. And then after two years, once I basically learned everything I could to get my blog up to the sort of $5,000 to $10,000 dollar a month mark, I felt like I had something of value to teach people, you know? I built my audience up, I built my newsletter up, I built my income up. That’s when I started teaching my own programs as well. And along the way there’s been all kinds of other things to experiment with, but predominantly, it’s advertising income, affiliate income, and selling your own products and services.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic. So what are some of the things that really work on a blog? I mean, nowadays, when you say blogging, that’s sort of expected. That’s the price of entry. It’s kind of one of the basics. Everybody should have a blog nowadays, obviously, right? But what’s the real difference between having a blog with a lot of followers and just having a blog?
Yaro Starak: It’s a very strategic question, this one, Jason, like people could have a blog purely as a side tool that they put on their information website for the product or service that their company sells. And that’s often what happens. The blog isn’t really the main thing. It’s just one mechanism they’re using to deliver some content. Which hopefully will bring back clients or customers to whatever they sell. For me, my blog has always been the website. That there is no other website. The blog is the website. The blog is what I produce content on every week. It’s how I reach people, how I get people onto my newsletter, I make sales from it directly as well as through advertising, like I said. So when it comes to this, it’s really are you going to be writing a blog for the sake of making money from advertising and selling your products and building your personal brand, and in that case the blog is your platform.
Or do you already have, for example, an Ecommerce website that’s basically a shopping cart full of products and the blog is just something you add to that as a way to have more than just product pages on your website. It’s a way to put content on your site, start building a bit more of a connection with your buyers of whatever products you sell. And that’s a different strategy to what I do obviously. So in the decision of how you use a blog it’s very strategic and it would be the first thing I would look at before starting a blog. You don’t just sort of throw one up there, nowadays anyway. Back in the day that’s what a lot of people did. I did that, I threw one up there and see what happened. And you could still do that, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you have some very specific business goals in mind, then you really need to use those goals as the driving force of how you decide the strategy behind what you’re going to do with the blog.
Jason Hartman: Now, when we talk about blogging, the vast majority of people think of text. And traditional text blog, but podcasting is really just an audio blog, if you will. When did you start podcasting?
Yaro Starak: I started podcasting a year after blogging, so 2006 was the first time, in fact I may have played with audio in 2005, really early days, before iTunes was really around. For me, it’s a funny story actually, I, if you can hear my accent, I was born in Australia but I’ve got a very strong Canadian undertones to it. I was actually at university and I went to one of my professors in an attempt to try to raise my grade on a paper I’d done because he was a professor that was well known for being a bit lenient if you go up there and sort of argue your point, he might bump you up one grade, so I thought I’d have a go with this. And I went up and saw him and started talking about my paper, and while we were talking he said to me you’ve got a great voice for radio. I could just listen to you talk all day, and I was like, hmm, I always kind of wanted to be the radio star, maybe I can give this a go. And as you know now, Jason, we’re doing this right now.
So at the time I had a little portable iRiver which is very similar to an iPod, it was the competitor at the time. And it had a microphone jack on it, or a microphone actually built into the machine, so I just hit record on that and started talking into it and put those files up initially as my first podcast, which was just me rambling. And in fact I used to sit down by the river in Brisbane, where I grew up, and I’d ramble for 20 minutes to 30 minutes about some subject related to business and stuck it on my blog and called it a podcast. And that was my first experiment into it, and a few episodes later I tried my first ever interview, which proved quite popular too, so I continued to do interviews much like we’re doing now. And it’s not something I do every single month but I have been doing it since 2006 and there’s always a few episodes going up every day and I love it and people love it and I think, like you said, it’s another form kind of like blogging. It’s a content creation and distribution method that allows you to reach new people. Plus it has the added benefit of that slightly more personal connection, being a voice coming at you rather than just reading the words on the screen. So I love it as an additional content distribution tool.
Jason Hartman: What do you like better when it comes to blogging? Do you like blogging in text format, meaning you’re writing or do you like blogging in audio format, podcasting, where you’re just talking?
Yaro Starak: Well it’s tough to choose. I think I’m more succinct and clearer in writing. It’s just the nature of the vehicle that you use for your words when you write versus when you speak and I think the fact that it’s not off the cuff as much with writing. Like right now, you’re going to get a lot more pauses and breaks and words that I wouldn’t use in my writing with what I’m saying. And it just works okay with podcasting. With writing you’d look a little amateur, if you were to look at the actual words I was saying now. So I think they both have their place and there’s advantages and disadvantages to both.
I love writing, though – I will always consider myself a writer first, before anything else. Mainly because that’s what I’ve been doing for the longest and it suits me the best. I can sit in a café and write, where sitting in a café and talking to yourself doesn’t quite come across as normal. I mean, nowadays you can get away with that pretending you’re talking to someone on the phone but it’s not the same. So for me the aspect of sitting in a café updating my blog, that’s always been my ideal life style and I’ve been lucky enough to live that for the last 8 years now, so that for me is the most important thing.
Jason Hartman: Okay, good. So talk to us about some of the more advanced strategies if you will, in terms of blogging properly and I’ve got to also ask you, Yaro, and I don’t want to forget, so you blog on other people’s sites or just your own?
Yaro Starak: I’ve been writing almost entirely on my blog for the whole time I’ve been blogging, but there have been guests posts I’ve done on other people’s sites. And particularly in the early days, and I think this ties in well with what your first question is there, what would I do to grow an audience. When my blog was new I did more of that kind of work. I would go out there and find other blogs to potentially write for, plus online magazines, websites, press releases, any places to seed my content to bring new people back to my blog. After about maybe a year or two of occasionally doing that sort of marketing I had traction, I had momentum and I found that I would just naturally bring in new audience just by producing my own content so I pulled back on that. But it’s something I recommend everyone does and probably next year I will get back to doing something like that because I need to start bringing in new people, and unless you’re prepared to pay money to buy advertising on Google or Facebook or banners across websites and networks, then you have to find ways to do it for free by using your own content.
And one of the best ways is to get yourself featured on other people’s sites, whether it’s with a guest post or an interview in a podcast like this or writing some press releases and syndicating it across the press network. There’s lots of options you can use your content for in other ways. But I always think the most important thing is to be writing your own blog first, make sure there’s a regular stream of content there keeping people updated with what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, helping them. Then the additional content can be used in marketing methods so seeding content in other places.
Jason Hartman: And blogging techniques and strategies, and I guess some of the common questions here, but please take it to a more advanced level if you will, is there an optimum link, do you really consciously think about inserting certain key words in your blog posts or do you just write what you want and people follow because they like it?
Yaro Starak: Primarily it’s the subject matter, more important than anything else. So playing with the key words and the length of the content doesn’t matter as much as the substance of the content. So looking at what you’re writing about, who you’re writing it for, using things like controversy, any kind of hook or angle, those are the things that make for good content. Yes you can look at your key words, yes you can look at an optimal length of an article in terms of distribution and sharing, but you’ll find there’s advice for both long articles and short articles that is valid. For example, often the longer articles won’t necessarily be read by many people, at least not from start to finish, but the people that do read it will be much more engaged with your work. Which can often be better than, say, an article that’s shorter and it might reach a whole lot of people, but you don’t really touch them quite as strongly as you do with the longer article. So they forget about it just as quickly.
So sometimes reaching a small group of people with a much stronger touch point rather than reaching a lot of people but barely even scratching the surface of their interest is better. And that’s often the angle I’ve gone for. I think the best advice I can give people who are looking for the optimum way to start building a successful blog today, is to focus on less content, but higher quality content. And some kind of marketing plan for each piece of content after you produce it. So the idea now is rather than aiming for, and I want to qualify this, this is for people who are experts, consultants, teachers, service providers, anyone who is basically trying to build a brand around a product or service or their expertise. If you’re a news blogger, this is not the right advice. If you’re a news blogger you’re just covering an industry, you’re meant to write lots of shorter posts about everything that’s going on each day. You might be writing 10-20 articles a day. That’s not something I’ve done. That’s a different type of blogging to the sort of expert blogging that I’ve done; The authority blogging. And if that’s what you are, then aiming for one really quality piece of content a week I think is a great goal, provided that after you produce that content you put a little bit of effort to make sure people know about it.
In my case, social sharing is my primary way of doing that so whenever I produce an article I will seed it on Facebook, of course, I will put it on Twitter, I will Google+ it, I will LinkedIn, Share it and depending on how that goes I will do additional things with it too. Often something will catch on in one of those platforms but not in other ones so I might go back a couple of days later and re-say it again on Twitter if it didn’t catch on or something like that. It might just be case of interacting with the people who talk about it on Facebook or Twitter. But those things, if they like and Share and Tweet, brings in new audience to that content. And it’s much better to have something that’s really powerful, one piece of content, and you go out there and tell people about it and get them engaged in that. Then you’ve got ten articles coming out each day that really don’t get a chance to reach people. It’s all happening too quickly. They’re getting buried in your archives before people even find it. So that’s the platform I’ve been building over the last two or three years. That’s the way I blog, it’s also easier to maintain. Writing one article a week or doing one interview a week, is a lot easier than the old 5 days a week sort of schedule that I used to have when I was younger. But that was a different time and I had sort of a different plan with my blogging and I just didn’t have the momentum yet. So it really depends where you’re at with your blog.
Jason Hartman: So, when you say higher quality content, this may sound like a silly question, but try and define that for the listeners if you would.
Yaro Starak: it is a difficult one to define.
Jason Hartman: Quality is in the eye of the beholder maybe.
Yaro Starak: It’s also in the statistics of the results in some ways too if you’re looking for business outcomes. You might think your article is great, and it could be great, but if no one else cares, then it’s not great in terms of business outcome. So it’s not something I can give an answer that will guarantee a result because, like anything, if you try and go viral you very rarely go viral. It’s often when you don’t try, you’re just trying to keep providing value, that something takes off. And often it’s the thing that you don’t expect to take off that does.
But that being said, when I first started blogging, I developed this framework called the pillar article or the pillar content. And that phrase basically means it forms the pillars of a great blog. And I advise my members, my students to focus on creating pillar content all the time if they can, but definitely early on. And why it’s, I guess it’s more available early on, is because when you start a blog, you’ve got a lot of things to cover that you just need to establish in order to build those pillars. And one of the best examples I can give of that is writing definitions that are relevant for your audience. So, whatever market you’re in, you no doubt have certain key terms that people use that are really insider terms. So in my space you’ve got things like, SEO, you’ve got things like, well pillars, another example, what’s a pillar article? You might define all the different key words that relate to in my case, blogging.
So I would define what it means to be a news blogger versus an authority blogger. And these are things that from an outsider’s point of view, it doesn’t even make sense. So you kind of have to bring people who are new and give them these definitions. And the good thing about doing a big set of these definitions, is they become solid pieces of content that will rank well on Google for those phrases, and also bring in the new audience and slowly educate them to the point where they’re a bit more advanced in their subject understanding and they got there because of you, so they tie their growth in understanding to your ability to teach them, which helps you cement that expertise.
So, all the time, I’m producing articles and define phrases and concepts I use. For example, I’ve written about the 80/20 rule, I’ve written about the theory of constraints, I’ve written about social proof, I’ve written about learned optimism. And these are all things that are very important to me as a business person and by writing about them and defining them, I create great content, I teach my readers, it gets shared and so on. So that’s the format of a pillar.
Without going too long here, the other types of pillar articles I defined when I came up with this concept were things like a controversy article, I’ve seen some bloggers get great exposure by simply taking a counterpoint to whatever is the accepted norm in a very hot topic or a very controversial topic. For example, my friend of mine, [0:21:15.8] runs a car blog. When he first started writing his car blog, he would basically review cars and be blatant with his opinion of crap cars and anyone who’s complaining about something often gets a lot more traction, so that’s one way to do it. You could go also the counter point, whenever I say be controversial, I always want to say be prepared for the inevitable hit back you’re going to take from people who don’t share your point of view. For example you could be saying right now you don’t believe in gay marriage and you could write an entire blog post on that if you’re writing a political blog. But you’ve got to be prepared for everyone who does believe in gay marriage to have a go at you. But one good thing about that, it’s attention, it’s engagement, it’s interaction. And that’s good for a blog. Even if it is necessarily a little bit more difficult to deal with on a personal level, it is a form of compelling content and that’s what bloggers are trying to do.
So definitions, controversy, I think top lists are great. That simply means writing a list of the top 10, top 20, top 50 best somethings in your industry. It might be the 50 best tennis players or the best looking female tennis players if you’re in that space. Or it might even be something like the top ten best platforms for writing your email newsletter, in my space. And you write a little review of each one, you link to them, and that can create great content. So top lists, definitions, controversy and I’ve got a bunch of other types of great pillar content but this interview would be much longer if I went into all of them.
Jason Hartman: Right, yeah, yeah. That’s good, great information though, great information definitely. So pillar content’s important and that whole concept of teaching people stuff and they associate that learning and growth with you. I think that is just a critical and excellent point that you made. The other thing I might add to what you said is not just defining some of the things that you mentioned like the 80/20 rule, etcetera, but also inventing some new thought. Maybe the pillar is your new thought, new contribution to the space. I don’t know, but inventing some new vocabulary words and some new concepts, and I think that can make you very unique as well.
Yaro Starak: Actually I coined a phrase to basically explain coining a phrase. I call it the language identifier. So if you get identified with a certain phrase, like you said, pillar articles for me, that was very much my stamp on the world of teaching about blogging. It’s a great way to demonstrate your expertise, spread your name. So if you can come up with these sort of phrases, and I actually wrote an article about language identifying as a way to come up with a language identifier. It didn’t quite catch on as good as pillar articles but you’re exactly right. That is a great technique.
Jason Hartman: Good stuff. Anything in the realm of podcasting that you want to share?
Yaro Starak: Ah, well podcasting. What I love about the format of podcasting is, especially from the conducting the interview, if you can sit there and ask the right questions at the right time, you can produce amazing content by not being the person who actually produces it. Because obviously it’s the other person being interviewed that says the smart things, hopefully.
Jason Hartman: I think we’re doing this right now.
Yaro Starak: Fingers crossed. I found that if I want to give one piece of advice for podcasting, and this has served me well from the very beginning 8 years ago, was to have a genuine curiosity about what the other person is saying. And if you don’t understand what they’re saying, asking why. And I found it’s particularly good to get the how to, the steps out of people, if there’s time in an interview to cover it.
For example, if I would talk about blogging, like you kind of did before, I would say I just wrote quality content. And then you would say to me, well how do you write quality content? And then I would explain pillar concepts. So that’s what kind of happened in this interview. And I find if you always have that natural curiosity when you listen to a person you’re interviewing, they will say things that for them, it’s just part of their knowledge. It’s something that they’ve understood because they’ve gone through the process. And they forget a little bit that it’s not common knowledge for everyone else. So as a person conducting an interview, if you don’t understand or you’re a little curious about how exactly to go about doing something, that’s when you want to stop and say okay that was really good, but I didn’t exactly understand, how did you build that website? Did you just set up WordPress, and buy a domain name, and then magically a thousand people a day started visiting your blog?
That’s the sort of thing where I go, no tell me how did you get the traffic? Because that’s the really interesting stuff. So how do you get all these people to listen to your podcast Jason? What do you do to tell people about your podcast? That’s the sort of question that I’d love to know the answer to.
Jason Hartman: Right, right. And I find with podcasting and blogging, but maybe especially podcasting, that it’s very organic. I wish with my different podcasts that I publish, I could make them grow faster. And throw money at the problem kind of the way the government does, which doesn’t work too well for them obviously. It’s kind of an organic thing really, you just produce good stuff, people find you, people refer you, you can play with the iTunes algorithm a little bit and that kind of stuff.
Yaro Starak: And there’s always advertising, you know?
Jason Hartman: I haven’t found that to work very well. I’ve done it. And honestly with podcasting I haven’t found it to work that well. Have you?
Yaro Starak: I’ve not ever paid money to promote my podcast. I have to admit that it’s been difficult to sort of watch new people come along in my space as a podcaster, and have tremendous fast growth because iTunes has featured them as a new artist in this sort of boom of podcasting where someone who’s been doing a podcast since 2006 and never got the opportunity to be featured as a new artist on iTunes, so they very quickly have grown 2 or 3 times the size of audience that my own podcast has had, so for anyone listening to this, if you’re about to start a podcast, one of the best things you can do is make sure you get that opportunity to be a featured new podcast on iTunes because that’s a great way to kick start a new show.
Jason Hartman: Sure, sure it is. And that’s the first two months, right? You know I didn’t have that opportunity with my shows. I don’t know if they even did that back then or they did it the same way they do it now. But I certainly didn’t know about it in the old days. You know, I started podcasting in 2005, so, I don’t know what they were doing. Maybe I was featured and I didn’t even know it. I’m not sure.
Yaro Starak: Well there wasn’t the amount of people listening to podcasts out there to make that feature worthwhile.
Jason Hartman: Fair enough.
Yaro Starak: It’s almost like you want to start again. I’ve actually thought about this, why don’t I just change the name of my podcast, relaunch it and it will be new and fresh, which maybe isn’t a bad idea.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, I’ve actually considered that as well. I think that’s something that maybe we’ll call them legacy podcasters, the old ones like us ought to consider. It’s worth consideration. I haven’t done it, but I have thought about it.
Yaro Starak: It’s a rebranding exercise too. I’ve often thought that maybe I don’t want to be the Entrepreneur’s Journey podcast, I want to be the blogging podcast instead and take my direction a little towards that more.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, good stuff, good stuff. Well, Yaro, any final thoughts before we wrap up?
Yaro Starak: Actually, no Jason, I think we’ve covered some good stuff in a short amount of time. So thank you for having me on the show and I love talking about podcasting and blogging, so happy to do it all day long.
Jason Hartman: And you’ve got several websites, but you always say the best way to find you is just to Google Yaro, right?
Yaro Starak: That’s right. I’m going for the Madonna and the Oprah thing. Just the single name celebrity, so Y-a-r-o. That’s it.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, and then when you get super, super successful later in your career, you can change your name to the blogger formally known as Yaro.
Yaro Starak: You know, you’re the second person to say that to me recently, Jason.
Jason Hartman: I just thought of it right now, but anyway. Hey it was great having you on from down under and keep in touch and we’d love to have you back on the show. Thanks Yaro.
Yaro Starak: Thanks Jason.
Narrator: This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights, and media interviews, please visit www.HartmanMedia.com or email media@HartmanMedia.com. Nothing on this show should be considered personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own, and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network, Inc. exclusively.
Transcribed by Ralph