The first thing you need to know about Yaro Starak is he’s a serial entrepreneur.
In the early days of the internet, he launched a company that offered editing services for college essays. He also ran another online company selling card games. In the midst of running and refining his online businesses, a friend suggested he start a blog.
Yaro shared his thoughts at the idea. “I was like ‘What’s a blog?’ I didn’t really understand the difference between that and a website. I went online and found some blogs, but they still didn’t look any different from a website to me. So I ended up installing a blog on my essay editing company site. It was kind of like a company blog to start with, and I attempted to write about the subject that would interest that target audience… international students writing papers… which turned out to be the most boring subject to write about ever.”
But Yaro did discover he enjoyed one aspect of that blog. He enjoyed telling the story of his company. Those “company story” posts kept him going. And eventually, he decided to shift his focus. He shut down his editing company, and launched a blog, which would eventually grow into Entrepreneur’s Journey, his main blog today… and a seven-figure venture.
Naturally, I was thrilled at the chance to interview Yaro. He’s one of the top bloggers in the world. And his insights don’t disappoint.
Picking a topic for your blog is an important step in any writer’s journey from beginner to successful blogger, so it was only natural to ask Yaro how he settled on his topic… blogging about entrepreneurism.
He said, “I already had seven years of experience working with the editing company. I had the online card game store prior to that, so there was a lot of fodder for blog content.”
What Yaro really loved was the journal style writing of blogging. He described, “It’s kind of like diarizing your thoughts, your ideas, and your life. Plus I’d seen some people make some money from it, too. So I was aware of the potential. But that wasn’t my plan. I certainly didn’t see it becoming what it eventually became… my entire business. Now it’s almost 15 years later. So it’s a career.”
Yaro doesn’t advise you to start out that way, though. He said, “I would tell people to do audience research. Back then, for me it started as a hobby and I didn’t necessarily have an eye on starting a business. I didn’t even think of myself as a person who liked to write up until that point. Starting out essentially telling stories about my business was a fun experiment, and I guess you could say the only research I’d done was living seven years being an entrepreneur, having the understanding of what I was trying to achieve over those years. The hard parts… the easy parts… the fun things… the goals… aspirations…”
Yaro’s audience began to grow, and with it his understanding of who he was writing to. He recalled, “Blogging was the only place we could leave comments back then. People would write these long, article-length replies as comments to a blog post, so it was a great place to get that kind of audience feedback… I would get ideas for other blog posts from the comments. The equivalent today of doing the same kind of research… you’d probably do it in a Facebook group or even in the replies to an Instagram picture or whatever platform where your audience is hanging out.”
Since his blog essentially started out as a hobby, I wondered if Yaro had faced any unique challenges or struggles early in his blogging business.
He answered, “I solved the technical issue mostly by then. I went through horrible technical issues in the previous two businesses because I tried to do all the technology myself, so when I started blogging, I had learned to hire someone to do the technology. For me, it was more of a struggle to find clarity on what I stood for. After six to 12 months, there was an audience there, and I was learning about internet marketing… I was learning about ways people were making money using a platform like a blog, and I was excited by all those things. But I was also trying to figure out my voice… I didn’t exactly have the clarity to know what I had to offer. I didn’t yet know to say, ‘I’m an expert at blogging and I can help you succeed, too.’”
Yaro went on to talk about how he had to figure that out, and then gain the confidence to put that message out there consistently. Finding your clarity — what you hope to accomplish with your blog — early can be a big help to your success. But this can be a struggle.
Yaro explained it like this: “I know from coaching my students, the clarity about who you serve, what problem you help them solve, and how that translates into a business… that’s quite murky to begin with. Finding clarity about who you serve and then being confident enough to believe that people will pay money for the solution you offer… that can be a big hurdle, but it’s more in the mind than anywhere else.”
Next I asked Yaro about that moment in his blogging career when he realized that the potential was really there… that he could make money from a blog.
He answered, “So, I knew that people were making money from ads. I already had made money from ads on that card game website. I’d also seen some contemporary bloggers at the time using things like Google’s AdSense. And I played with Google AdSense on my site. I made like 50 cents a day… so not a path to riches.”
Yaro didn’t let that deter him. “I also did something that a lot of bloggers, back then anyway, weren’t doing… I was following people who were more email marketing focused and I started to grow my email list after the first year of blogging, which turned out to be the smartest decision I could make.”
The email list opened up options, and Yaro wanted to test how to make money seriously. He said, “I did an affiliate promotion. I basically found another person’s e-book package. It was $50 for the package, with a $20 affiliate commission for each sale.”
He went on, saying, “My plan was simple. I’d write a blog post where I recommended the e-book. It was about Google AdWords, and how to drive traffic using that pay-per-click platform. I said this book is the best one out there right now. I recommended it because it was a special package. I published the post late at night, hoping to wake up in the morning to piles of money in my account. I woke up the next day and there were no sales whatsoever. I was pretty devastated because I thought I had just spent almost a year of my life writing all this free content and nothing came of it.”
Yaro didn’t give up though. “Then I sent a promotion to the email list for the same product… about two weeks later, I’d made 10 sales from my little, tiny audience. That earned me $200. That was very validating. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘Okay, I have a thousand subscribers and I made $200. If I have ten thousand subscribers, do I make $2000?’”
Yaro realized then that the only thing between him and a full-time audience might just be the size of his audience. Which begs the question, what’s the best way to build an audience? Yaro was happy to answer that question: “The main way to build an audience is to build relationships that lead to exposure to other people’s audiences.”
Yaro explained a few ways to do this: “You might approach an Instagrammer who has an audience that you’re interested in getting in touch with and try to do some kind of collaboration with them. Or as a blogger, you might try to get a column on Huffington Post. You might appear in a podcast as a guest. You have to be proactive. But the principle is the same now as it was when I was just getting started. You have a relationship with someone who is the gatekeeper to an audience, and you find a way for them to feature you to their audience.”
One of Yaro’s favorite ways to do this is through podcasting. “I have another company called InboxDone.com. It’s an email management company, and I’m in marketing mode for that one. And I’m doing the same thing. I’m getting on podcasts to talk about outsourcing email. I’m trying to find avenues to get that idea — my content on that idea — in other people’s newsletters. It’s really not much different from 15 years ago.”
When you want to build your audience, it’s all about getting your content into another person’s platform — whether it’s a YouTube video, a podcast, an Instagram post, a guest blog contribution, a press article, TV, radio, newspaper — all of these things earn you exposure. They help people get to know what you’re doing. And, according to Yaro, if you keep it up long enough, you’ll build an audience.
Of course, once you have an audience, you have to make a connection with them, to nurture a relationship with them. Yaro talked about how he engages his audience and builds a relationship with them.
“For me, the engagement has come from putting in the effort with the content creation. For example, I have a free report called The Blog Profits Blueprint, kind of like an a-to-z guide on my methodology for making money from blogging and content. That engages because it’s very comprehensive. It’s littered with stories from my own experience and stories from people I’ve coached, so it reinforces the ‘Yaro’ special ingredient I bring to teaching blogging. I think it’s important to come up with those things that are unique to you, work them into your content.”
Yaro emphasized the importance of telling your audience stories. “Ultimately it is the storytelling. I don’t think there’s anything that creates community engagement more so than storytelling. I almost feel like I could answer every question with tell a story and that will do everything you need.”
Once you have an audience and they’re engaged, the question becomes how do you make money from your blog? Yaro’s been earning a huge income from blogging for more than 15 years, and so he’s had the experience to know what works.
Through the years, Yaro has tried just about every strategy you can think of. His favorite? “By far my favorite monetization is a flagship course. I’ve made more money… there’s nothing in my life I’ve made more money with than a flagship course. It’s in depth. It represents everything I know about this topic and all my concepts, and it’s very comprehensive. It’s set at a price point where if you sell a hundred of them, you’re making six figures.”
One of the reasons Yaro likes a flagship course so much is because it doesn’t require huge audiences. “Most of the ways people make money with blogging require large audiences. Pay-per-click advertising? You need lots of clicks, so lots of people need to be viewing your blog. If I only did advertising, I’d probably struggle to get to a thousand a month in revenue… maybe just make it there… but because I sell a course, and I sell a membership site, and I sell some e-books… it all combines so you can make six figures, or multiple six figures… and onwards.”
I wondered what other skills Yaro had found himself drawing from over the years. He answered, “One of the things… it is writing, but copywriting. Which is the art of selling and engaging with words.… learning to write titles on a blog post. Same with email… you know the subject line of the email, the first sentence of the email… these are all copywriting hooks, so that’s a skillset you can never develop enough.”
The other skill Yaro recommends is learning product creation.
“That’s another form of writing… I need to be able to structure content for a workshop, a webinar, a live training, or a 20-hour flagship course. That’s not something most people have done before. When you get into it, you could take a course on how to make courses… that’s not a bad idea. And I study a lot on how to teach, essentially, so basic concepts like covering the who, what, why, and what if… something I learned from Eben Pagan and that goes into every major training I do.”
Another game changer Yaro mentioned is email marketing. Those were the big three, and Yaro summed them up, saying, “They’re all extensions of using words in some shape or form.”
My last question to Yaro was what advice he would go back in time and give to himself based on what he knows now. He began with what is a common answer among experts. “I definitely would have said, start an email list sooner than I did because email has had a massive, massive impact.”
But then he went on to talk more about a blogger’s mindset. “You have to look at this as an experiment… I guess I would say that to myself. You’re always afraid of failure when you’re new at something but I’d say… don’t fear failure, because everything is an experiment. Put less pressure on yourself to get a specific outcome. Just try things and see what works and learn from what doesn’t.”
And if you do that, over time, you’ll have the a very good chance of building a blog that earns you a very good income.
Editor’s Note: If you want to write your own blogging success story, AWAI now has a program to help you do that. It walks you through picking a topic, coming up with ideas, writing excellent blog entries, building your audience, and earning money from your efforts. You can find all the details here.
This article is part of the Blogging Stories series.
Series Table of Contents:
- A Serial Entrepreneur Shares His Story of Blogging Success (This Article)
- A Blog – The Ultimate Writer’s Tool
- Blogging Your Way to a Life of Adventure
- Blogging and Business: Harnessing the Power of Attention
- How Jon Morrow Launched His Blog with 13,000 Subscribers – and Other Blogging Stories
- Living a Beautiful Life – Blogging Success with Sal O’Neill
- Follow Your Passion – A Blogging Success Story with Carol Bryant
- Building the Life You Want – Holly Reisem Hanna’s Blogging Success Story
- From $700 a month to $3.5 million a year – Sarah Titus and Blogging Success