Q & A with Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau wanted to build an online community and through that find a way to support himself. For 279 days he worked day and night. On the 279th day his earnings were $50,000 a year. Things have grown tremendously since then. This week he launched his newest book, The $100 Start Up which is being greeted excitedly by people around the country and the world.

Here are a few of Chris’ thoughts online marketing and social media.

What do you find is the biggest mistake people make in attempting to build their social media presence?


They spend their time trying to get people to notice them, instead of doing something interesting that is worth noticing.

How important do you feel it is to have a narrowly defined niche?

It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. In many cases, it’s not important at all. I don’t have a niche; I have a worldview. Gretchen Rubin writes about happiness and has probably sold a million books; it’s the opposite of niche. Again, it depends on your goals, but these days more platforms are personality-based.

Why did you decide against advertising?

Because it is largely ineffective, and the best advertising comes from word-of-mouth.

What if any offline efforts do you put into supporting your online presence and revenue?

A lot. I work from wherever I am, 20 countries a day. Half of the work is creating, writing, publishing, building things and the other half is connecting, talking with people in various forms, including offline. I also host reader meetups wherever I go.

What has been the best tactic you have found for building your social media network?

I tried to do something interesting and invited other people to participate. Most of us want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, but we have to have a reason to care.

Was there any one thing, a tipping point perhaps, which significantly increased the revenue you generate online?

For me it’s not so much about revenue; I’m more interested in influence. However, it’s true that revenue increased a great deal once I got more serious about building the business side of things. Adding multiple price points and creating a continuity program were the most significant factors.

What is the most common mistake beginners make when starting blogging for the purpose of generating income?

They believe that can make money simply from blogging. In most cases, you can’t! Or at least, those who attempt it from that perspective are usually unsuccessful. What you can do, however, is use a blog to build an actual business. Get this part right and you can indeed be successful, but the distinction is critical.

How important do you view email marketing in driving your online revenue?

All things considered, my email list is the more important asset I own. I’d rather lose my home and every dollar in my bank account that lose the connection with those who care about what I have to say.

Who else do you feel is doing a particularly good job building an online presence and what do youthink they are doing particularly well?

Good question. Among many others, I like and respect Marianne Elliott, Susannah Conway, Chris Brogan, Jonathan Fields, Scott Young, and Emily Cavalier. In their own ways, each are very respectful of their audience. I think this is a critical posture to take.

Do you have any thoughts on appropriate goals people could set on number of visitors they should obtain in the first year?

No. I think they should focus on something they can control. They can control the number of words or posts they publish, or any other deliverable for which they are responsible. But focusing strictly on an arbitrary statistic outside their control would be a mistake on several levels.

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You can learn more about Chris at www.chrisguillebeau.com

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