The Aha!NOW Chat With Yaro Starak [Interview]
Table of Contents
This is neither an ordinary interview, nor is it merely a lesson from a problogger. In fact, this interview with Yaro Starak is an inspirational manual for bloggers who want to be entrepreneurs!
I can say with confidence that this is a not-to-be-missed interview for bloggers, who really want to make money online.
I doubt whether there are many authority bloggers who’ve been earning money online independently as long as Yaro Starak has been doing ever since 2005!
That’s right, Yaro is one of the pioneers of blogging and a professional blogger, who can teach you how to be one too.
His views are unique and different, and it’s always good to know about new money making strategies, isn’t it?
I won’t take much of your time to tell you more about Yaro Starak, as you’ll find all the information you want in the interview itself.
I’ll just let you know that Yaro presently lives in Australia, though he has plans to move to San Francisco. And for those of you who don’t know, he blogs at Entrepreneurs Journey and loves to live the laptop lifestyle!
Interview With Yaro Starak
Now, there’s a new element of surprise for the regular visitors of Aha!NOW – this interview is also available as a podcast!
Not exactly a podcast like the interactive interviews but something different.
Well, Yaro preferred to narrate the answers to my interview questions, and that’s even better for you as you get more nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom from him, right?
More so, Yaro was so candid, so giving, and literally explained everything in detail – I must appreciate the way he really spoke his heart and shared valuable information with us.
But when I sat and transcribed the interview, I realized it’s got a little long, which is also good. However, since it’s not easy to digest too much information at a time, I decided to present this interview as a two-part series.
So, take your cup of tea or coffee, and feel free to either listen to the podcast or read through the interview . You’ll love ALL that you hear or read, and I promise you that. 🙂
This part of the podcast is of about 26-minute duration in which Yaro talks about –
- What things he did differently as a blogger and an Internet marketer?
- Why blog community and customer relationships are important for bloggers?
- What should bloggers do to make money?
- Which blogging strategy should you adopt nowadays?
And much more!
There are a total of 10 questions, and as with the tradition of Aha!NOW chats, you get to know more about the personal side of Yaro that probably you didn’t know before.
So without further ado, here’s Yaro “unplugged” on Aha!NOW.
Podcast: Interview with Yaro Starak
Those who prefer to read the text transcript can do so by browsing this post. I’m sure you’ll find each answer inspiring and educating.
Of course, the other part of the podcast and related 10 questions are coming up in the follow-up post, which shouldn’t be missed either.
So, come back and stay tuned for the next part of the interview with Yaro, where he’ll talk more about –
- How bloggers can build their brand?
- Which are the best ways to make money and best use of your blog traffic?
- How can bloggers use social media more effectively?
- What is the future of blogging?
And much more!
UPDATE: Here’s the second part of the interview >> The Aha!NOW Chat With Yaro Starak [Interview Part 2]
I’ve also summarized the takeaways from the interview at the end of this post.
If you want to transform yourself into a professional blogger and an entrepreneur, then I’d suggest you read Yaro’s free e-book Blog Profits Blueprint.
In this free e-book, Yaro teaches in detail about how to make money blogging, besides revealing the complete story of his blogging journey.
Once you finish listening to Yaro or reading his answers, do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Being an Entrepreneur
Q1: Yaro, welcome to Aha!NOW. You’re a pioneer professional blogger and have been blogging for almost 10 years – making money seems to be your second nature.
What do you prefer to be known as – a blogger or an entrepreneur, and why?
Yaro: Wow! You say making money is quite my second nature, I still have to work for it like all people, Harleena, but to answer your question, I probably, depending on the crowd I go to, I like being an entrepreneur slightly more than being a blogger. But I love being a writer as well.
So, I often will say, I’m a writer-entrepreneur. I think I like being an entrepreneur because it means you’re not boxed into any one sort of aspect of running a business – you can be starting businesses in all kinds of industries using all kinds of different business models.
Whereas if you’re a blogger, you’re pretty much looked upon as a person who is a publisher, which is good but it is not quite as diverse and it doesn’t have quite as many aspects to it has what an entrepreneur can.
But, you know what – there’s an answer to that question. A blogger will also do a lot of things around the blog to make money so (being an) entrepreneur probably makes a bit of more sense.
Support of Parents
Q2: I read what you wrote about your childhood on your site. The freedom in school subconsciously inspired you, and you subsequently sought for a career that gave you freedom in your work.
How supportive were your parents about the career of your choice? Did their separation affect you in any way from pursuing your career?
Yaro: You know, I think a lot of my desire for freedom actually comes from being a bit of a control freak, which probably (is) a lot of the justification for entrepreneurs to want to have their own business (and it’s) just being in control of their hours – that’s for me a big issue. I hate that feeling of being told to do something and not wanting to do it.
If I tell myself to do something and I don’t want to do it but I know it’s important to my goals, my business then I’m more likely to still do it. But I want to have the choice to decide when and where to do that.
So to answer your question, my parents – there were some times where certainly early on they – first of all my mother didn’t really mind whatever. She was supportive of me sitting on a couch watching TV (laughs). She was a very supportive person, doesn’t matter what I was doing, they’d help me no matter what I chose to do. She was also more entrepreneurial than my father.
So, she probably saw that as a normal. She has had all kinds of different jobs in her life. Some of them were running her own business; some of them were washing dishes, so she had the whole range of experiences and certainly didn’t want me to do anything I didn’t want to do.
My father (was) supportive as well. There were some moments I remember, (which) were quite funny in that he would get this kind of a irony to be a dad and ask certain questions in moments where he’d say, “Are you sure you should be doing your own business? First, maybe you should get a job and then start a business and later want to have some experience in working for someone else’s business.”
And I think he was almost just like saying that because he felt like he should, as a thing that a parent would say to a kid especially. This is bearing in your mind – this is all before when I was making any sort of significant money from my own businesses.
It’s amazing when once you actually have some success and you’re making a living and buying a car and buying a property that suddenly it’s obviously you made the right choice and (laughs) doesn’t really matter so much.
But I certainly don’t feel that my parents ever hindered my progress. You know there I was in a place to live by me and to do (work), so the good thing about that is I didn’t have the pressures of rent during the very very early stages when cash flow is quite quite small. So, you know, they were overall definitely more supportive than anything else.
Motivation for Entrepreneurship
Q3: There was a time when your mother had gone through tough times and had to endure hardships. That was perhaps also the time when you got your first exposure to the real world of business.
Was that a motivator for you to try to earn money and stand on your feet quite early in life? What started the entrepreneurial fire in you?
Yaro: You know with both my mother and my father I tended to see more things I didn’t want to do than things I did want.
In terms of my father, I didn’t like the linear aspect of the career, (but) he did. It’s more suited to his personality to have had a job, but he also had a side business. So, you know I can see that different aspects of being an employee for a university with which my father was and then having his own business on weekends.
My mother, she had some businesses that required doing things that I did not like, like getting up very early in the morning to go to a market to sell products at basically like a free market and that meant 5 a.m. or 4 a.m. start. And I’m not a morning person, so I was definitely going to avoid any kind of job or business that required an early start.
Really, for me, the motivator to earn money and stand up on my own feet was more again about having the freedom of choice and control. Everything is about freedom of choice and its funny and it’s a bit of dichotomy – you want control therefore you want freedom.
So, for me, I wanted to move out of the house and I wanted to have my own money so I can do that. And then, you know there might be finer reasons for that, there might be desire for independence that’s a natural motivator for you know a person in their late teens or early 20s to want to do.
So, I was motivated by that – I was really motivated by how much I hated the 9 to 5 idea. I just could not stand the idea of everyday getting up and doing a job that was very much restricted on where you could go. You know you had a career path, you had an income cap, you had a ceiling, and even as you progress and may be you get raises and reach higher positions in a company.
It was completely slow and under the decision-making of someone else. You know it was your bosses, your managers who decide, when you’d advance, how you’d advance, what roles you’d take, and I just couldn’t stand and I like the idea of having complete freedom and control over what I did. So, I always was going to find some kind of business, some kind of way to make a living, even if it meant freelancing.
And maybe that’s not traditionally a business – it’s kind of attracting but you still get to decide where you do the work and when you do the work, and if you wanted to get up at 11 o’clock in the night instead of 9 o’clock in the morning – that’s your choice. So, for me freelancing was probably the last resort if things didn’t work out or good stepping stone towards having a business.
Understanding People in Business
Q4: Your family has Ukrainian, Canadian, and Australian background, right? Perhaps you inherited your writing skills from your mother and ability to understand people from your father, who is a psychologist.
How important is it for entrepreneurs, bloggers, and Internet marketers to understand the psychology of people to be successful?
Yaro: Yes, correct. My father was born in Ukraine, there’s also Czechoslovakian from my mother’s side and she was born in Israel. So for me, the Canadian and Australian have been the dominant influences – growing up in Australia but speaking with a Canadian accent having made many trips to Canada. So those were the two most dominant countries for me.
Yes, and certainly, writing skills more so from my mother in the sense that she did lot more writing and English was her first language. My father being a University lecturer is quite a capable writer. In fact, he’s a voracious reader and I’m always impressed by how much he reads yet how terrible his hand writing is, but I think that’s just a man thing – we don’t have good handwriting. But he’s a great reader.
Both my parents were in the field of counseling, psychology, social works or there’s very very strong empathy and, you know, human psychology aspects to my parents. Definitely some genetics there. (But) I probably didn’t find their careers interesting in that sort of aspect. I had no desire to be a counselor or a therapist and perform, but marketing is very similar to social science as well, so it just has to be more tied to money.
Marketing is a social science. It means you’re looking to understand why people make decisions and that you’re tying in into a buying decision obviously since you’re trying to sell products and services. But alternately the motivations are the same – everything is from the same root place – the desire for food, safety, power, status, significance, and relationships.
All those things try how the decision we make whether to buy something or anything we do in life. So yes, absolutely critical aspect of being a marketer is understanding people.
Being a Money Making Blogger
Q5: You’ve told your “success story” probably many times to people about how you rose from being a plebeian to becoming a pioneer. Though my blog readers can always visit and read your Business Timeline for detailed information, but I’d like to know:
What are the things you did differently that other bloggers don’t do? What do we miss out on to become a “Yaro”?
Yaro: The primary difference I know is putting myself and the other bloggers at the time I was growing up in the blogosphere, was my strong leaning towards Internet marketing techniques.
I was very much mixing Internet marketing with blogging, where certainly, the majority of bloggers of the time were not, and by that I mean, I was having an e-mail list – I have an e-mail list. I was doing offers through my list.
I was combining the blog to get people onto the list, giving people a lead resource to build relationships and promote a product, and that was something that most bloggers didn’t do – it’s still something that most bloggers don’t do.
The idea of advertising and affiliate income is often the common path and for internet marketers – it’s not usually the first thing they do. They usually go straight to selling a product or service and trying to get a higher response rate, and then they are very good at doing direct response.
(But) bloggers are terrible at doing direct response, they’re often terrible at making offers, they dishonor right content and hopefully make enough money from advertising, which may be back in the day was a realistic goal. But you know it’s so competitive now and you need so much traffic in order to make a full-time living from advertising that.
I’d actually argue you should almost be hours be going some kind of a direct response model selling a product or service if you’re serious about making a full-time income from blogging because there’s just no way to get leverage without doing that, you need to (be) making offers.
So, that’s one aspect in terms of what you miss out on to follow my path, you know there’s a need to focus on selling sometimes and that’s not something people or bloggers like. So I guess you miss out on the potentially simple formula of just writing blogpost and then hoping you make enough traffic to make enough money from advertising and affiliate income.
Unfortunately, that’s probably not something that you’ll achieve because like I said very very few blogs ever get the kind of traffic of volume they need to make money just from advertising and just from affiliate marketing.
So, I don’t know, I don’t think you can miss out on anything that’s too important – you probably miss out on things that are not as good like long hours writing tons and tons of content you give away for free, where if you do what I do, you can still write and have a connection with your audience.
But most of your money time is spent creating content and for paying members who really value what you do. So, you know different philosophies, and whether you see something as missing out or not missing out it’s a bit subjective, so I’m not sure I can answer that part very well.
Importance of Blog Community
Q6: How important is it to have a blog community or a loyal blog audience? Was it in anyway instrumental in pushing you towards success?
Yaro: A community is more and more important and it has become more and more important over the years. I mean, you know when I started blogging; people didn’t talk about a community quite as overtly as they do today.
Back then it was just what you did – you had a blog, you had people reading it, and you have people becoming fans and leaving comments. That’s just a natural organic process of growing a blog. So, that’s a community.
Today though, people are much more focused on that aspect of building a presence online. So, you know needing a community, needing a tribe, needing a core group, of loyal followers is absolutely vital.
In fact, I don’t think you can actually have a successful business based on a blog, or really, most businesses without some sort of community aspect. Even if it is just some kind of a loyalty program if you’re selling products and services, there’s always something you do to connect the people who’re involved with what you do.
In terms of blogging, though I do think you’ve to be careful because a lot of bloggers who spend time fostering community, fostering engagement, and then – all end up having a rabid following of people who love what they do and just want more and more “free” stuff from you.
And then, (the) minute you go and say, “Hi, I now am going to charge you for some of my content”, it’s a complete pattern interrupt in the wrong way. It’s like, “Wait a sec, you’ve been giving all this great stuff for free but now you want me to pay for something that you gave away for free previously? I’m upset!”
And then, not only will they not buy what you’re offering, they actually will be angry at you and potentially you know write things against you on your own blog, and comment and potentially backlash and start leaving you altogether.
So, I’d argue that ways you should spend your time building community is two-fold now. It is obviously doing some sort of community building around the blog, but really spending your time fostering the community around the people who pay for your products and services.
I wrote about this recently, the most important relationship you want to nurture with a blog is your customer relationship – it’s not your free reader, it’s not the person who leaves a comment but never actually buys anything from you. Spend your time focusing on the people that support you financially and value your time while being willing to pay for it.
That’s way more important than just feeling good because you’ve an army of people who just want your free stuff. Unless, of course, you’re doing it for a hobby, which probably means you shouldn’t listen to what I’m talking about.
Well, you can, but you just won’t like the stuff I talk about when it comes to making money. (laughs)
Developing Customer Relationships
Q7: What should bloggers do to have a supporting community? Can we still have an engaging blog community if we shift our conversations to the social media platforms?
Yaro: You know going back to my previous question, you can do as much as you want with community, you can engage them on your blog, (and) you can engage them on social media. Bloggers out there will tell you that this is the most important thing to do (that) is to build this tribe around what you’re doing and meet them where they’re on all the different platforms.
But, like I said, at the end of the day, if you’re spending all your time just talking to people, while you’re not making any money and you want to make money, then you need to start thinking more about customer relationships and less about freebie relationships.
That’s a personal point of view; some people will argue that if you focus on freebie relationships the people who want to buy from you will find you and buy from you. But unfortunately, what I find from most people was for that to happen, you need an absolutely massive amount of people following you, and most bloggers will never reach those numbers.
You won’t make a full-time income because you’ll only have one person out of every thousand buy something from you. So for that to work you need 10-20-30-40-50,000 people following you and most bloggers never reach that point.
Most bloggers, if they’re lucky, they get to 1000 people at best, that’s sort of like a goal. However, if you have 1000 people and you actually managed to get a 100 of them to buy from you and spend a thousand dollars a year with you, then you’re making a $100,000 in a year.
So, if you shift your focus a little bit away from just supporting (your) community for the sake of it to supporting people who support you by buying products and services, it’s just a much better use of your time. And that can be on the social media platforms too, but focus on customers first.
Q8: You need to be a bit extrovert to be social. There was a time when you lacked confidence and were a little shy in your initial years.
How did you develop self-confidence and become a successful professional blogger? How did you change your mindset and gain self-esteem?
Yaro: I know I’m still very much introverted. You don’t need to be an extrovert to be at least to have an outgoing presence on the Internet. You can be a contributor without needing to be extrovert. For me, a lot of, and I think everyone will agree with this – self-esteem and confidence comes from experience and doing things.
Having achievements, getting results, making an impact, you’ll always get more confidence from doing that. So, the most important thing is to make sure I was doing something and that were to build the experiences.
You can also work on your mindset. I became very aware of my own self-thinking patterns. So in my inner dialog, I did little bit of an analysis of how I talk to myself and try to reframe a lot of things away from negative to positive aspects.
Then you know it’s something you’ve to keep working on over time and it takes a while, but as you get better at it, it starts to have a positive impact then (on) everything you do. If you’re on your own support team, then more likely will you succeed because you’re positive, you know you’re happy with the results rather than saying negative things to yourself, like you’ll not get anywhere, no one pays attention to your work, why you’re wasting your time – that doesn’t help you.
So you need to make sure you’re on your own team to begin with.
But like I said, you can really be shy on the Internet and still be a successful blogger and the great thing about it is that you can just write the words – you don’t have to do a video, you don’t have to do audio. There’s a very well known email marketer named Andre Chaperon, who has a massive following, who has been influential in the Internet marketing space for longer than I’ve been doing this over 10 years.
And he is very very introverted. He never does webinars, he never does videos, he never does podcast, and he only ever once spoke on stage that was just recently after more than 10 years. Being a marketer he just writes words.
So you can be comfortable in your shyness writing words and have a successful business, have a successful blog. So you know, don’t let that be something that’ll stop you. But you know obviously, if these are parts of your personality you want to improve, then you should do it – you should do video, you should do audio, because that will give you confidence.
I know for me, when I started my podcast, which was very very early – I started my podcasts after six months of blogging, back in 2005. It was little bit like public speaking and I hadn’t done much of it. So, that helped me. Even though there was no one there, I felt a little bit nervous because I felt like I was talking to people.
Like I’m doing right now, but I don’t feel nervous now. But when I just started, I’d … this is probably the 1000th plus times plus I’ve spoken on something like an interview or a podcast, so practice certainly gets you more confidence.
Blogging Strategy to Make Money
Q9: Times have changed since you started blogging. Today bloggers face many challenges with the tough competition going on.
How should they change their blogging strategy to remain competitive and excel in making money online?
Yaro: Well, that pretty much ties into what I was talking before about – first of all, focusing on nurturing customer relationships and not just freebie seekers, and not just engaging with people for the sake of engaging – doing it as a business and having that mindset.
I think you need to have a much more specific target market, target audience, and niche within a niche in order to be a specialist because that’s something that really helps when you’re in a competitive space. When you’ve reached a saturation point in the market place, the only way to succeed is to separate yourself by becoming more specific about some aspect of an industry.
So, you go from being a blogging professional to being a professional blogger, who focuses only on the aspect of blogging. For example, may be just help women bloggers and then you say I only help stay at home moms bloggers, and then you say I only help stay at home mom bloggers who have two children, and you can go as far as you want with this.
You can always bring it down usually by niching down on the target audience you go for. That’s where the niching happens because that’s the best way to segment.
Once you know who you’re talking to its much easier to market to them, to find them, and that’s how you can have the successful business. Plus, of course, you’re going to sell like a much better solution to their problem, if you say exactly the things that they are.
So, if I tell you I help bloggers who like only to right to make money by selling a course that they create themselves, then people are going to be interested in what I teach, if they’re also a writer who wants to sell a course. If there’s a podcaster who wants to do an audio program, then they probably won’t pay attention to me.
So, it’s kind of good because it discards the irrelevant people and attracts the small tribe that you need. So, that’s definitely the way I’d go, about dealing with the competitive landscape. The other aspect is realizing that you won’t make a living with a small niche, if you’re just going after advertising and affiliate income and in fact, you probably won’t make it just selling one e-book, or one course either.
You’re going to need to have a marketing funnel with a range of products so that you get some people coming to you for the more lower priced products you offer. And then segment them coming to you for the group coaching or some sort of experience with you.
May be workshop in person or live webinars, and then a very small segment of those people willing to spend $10,000 a year to have private coaching with you or to spend time at a personal retreat, or you know, buy your highest level product or service.
So its hours of segment, of a segment, of a segment, increasing the amount that they pay and you make money or you make the majority of your money as they further along in the marketing funnel as you go.
If you want to make the six figure level income, you’re going to need to have the $1000 products in those spaces. Obviously, I’m talking about information marketing here. If you’re an e-commerce seller and you’re selling your own products and services, it’s a different strategy – it’s not my angle or hence I don’t teach it and that’s again niche segmenting my audience. So, you should probably go study someone else if you’ve an e-commerce store.
The Yaro Story
Q10: I hear various versions of your income story. But I’d like to hear it directly from you, if you wish to reveal.
How much money do you make and how do you do it?
Yaro: Well, probably you hear various stories because its changed so many times over the years that I always write about it and I always talk about it on interviews. So, at one stage I was making like … I had a card game website and I had a trading forum there, which I made from advertising and selling cards.
Then I had a proof reading business, which I made money from basically selling proof reading services to university students, and I was a middle man – I’d find the proof readers and hire them, and then connect them with the students and take a cut from – I call that business moral services arbitrage.
And then, I started blogging and then initially I did do advertising and affiliate income with my blogging. I eventually launched a training program, that significantly increased my income, and then I also started to buy and sell some websites too.
So, I bought some blogs, sold some blogs, spot some forums about miniature motorcycles, and started to set up some passive income streams from buying and selling websites. Eventually though, I sold out all those assets to focus only on my blog teaching business, and then I actually closed down all my teaching programs as well because they’re getting dated that was a couple of years ago.
And I focused my time for a couple of years on a start-up called “Cranky Ads” (that was) about advertising for blogs, which eventually was shut down after two years, when it was clear it wasn’t going to work. At least, coming from Australia, I needed to go to somewhere and get some funding basically, and that wasn’t something that I was looking to do.
And then just recently, as I’m talking to you, I’m back into the information marketing world.
So to be honest, I shouldn’t really say what exact income I’ve right now because it’s not really indicative of what I’m doing at the moment, which is re-launching my courses. At the moment, all I’m selling is some low-end, basically my front-end products, my more affordable products that are in the sort of $30 to $50 range, and just selling up my new coaching program, which a few people are in it at the moment my EJ Insider program.
And then next, I’ll re-launch my blog mastermind training program and a few other of my courses, and they’re more in $1000 sort of range products. So, my income is actually quite low compared to the best years – my best years I was making half a million dollars a year, but that’s when all my courses were available.
Now, I’m re-creating them so there’s this period of less income while I go back and update them, re-launch them, and most importantly, I’m coming up with a different model – I’m not teaching the same thing I taught with those courses five years ago, because things have changed.
So you know, I make a living at the moment primarily from a bit of residual affiliate income from the money that started to come in from my initial training products, and just increasing each month as I slowly create more products. I tweak the marketing processes and you know increase conversions.
But that’d be the best thing for me to say because it’s so transient right now. And I’ve been spending a bit of money too because there’s a lot of technology that’s setup, a lot of outsourcing to do, so yes, very much a new period for my business.
Conclusion and Take Away from Yaro’s Interview
Summing up, in this interview, Yaro tells us that –
– Freedom means having the choice and control to do what you want
– Have an email list and use it to build relationships
– Focus on selling and do direct response selling of your products and services
– Spend more time creating content for paying members
– Have a community, tribe, core group, or loyal followers
– Nurture customer relationships, and foster a community that would buy from you
– Have a specific target market, target audience, and a niche within a niche
– Niching down on the target audience is the best way to segment
– Have a marketing funnel with a range of products
– Remain positive, create a business mindset, and you’ll get confidence with experience
So, what do you think of this strategy and blog business model from the mastermind entrepreneur, Yaro Starak.
Do you think these hold good in making money from blogging?
There’s more in store.
Remember, this is only the first part of the interview and more wealth of information awaits you in the next part, in the next post – coming up on Tuesday.
UPDATE: Here’s the second part of the interview >> The Aha!NOW Chat With Yaro Starak [Interview Part 2]
If you want to be notified about when the next post is published and to get the latest post updates, you can subscribe by filling in your email address below.
Download the FREE PDF that has all the 20 questions I asked in both the parts of the interview with Yaro Starak.
You can also download the FREE ebook Yaro offers – Blog Profits Blueprint – and try out some monetization strategies on your blog.
Till then, have a great weekend and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Over to You –
Did you learn anything new? What do you think of Yaro’s money making blogging strategy? What impresses you most about this interview with Yaro Starak? Share in the comments.
Photo Credit: Yaro Starak