The first thing you see when you visit Mikeslife.org is:
“Mike’s Life is a fantastic resource for bloggers who are passionate about writing and are serious about wanting to create a long term, sustainable income from their blogs.”
Mike’s message is bang on, his site’s a fantastic resource for all types of bloggers. Mike comes off as a really genuine and passionate blogger who really loves blogging and lives life to the fullest. I also loved how he added and mentioned his products in this interview (free publicity), they really are great and worth a read.
We corresponded through email, our conversation is below:
Q: When was Mikeslife.org founded?
Mike: In December 2008, and shortly after I started my first blog which is a travel blog about the island I live on.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about Mikeslife.org? Why did you start it?
Mike: I set it up as website to help new and learning bloggers who are passionate about writing. It seemed to make sense to chart my learning from the travel blog, which we managed to take from zero to a full time income in one year.
There’s a big community that has developed at Mike’s Life life now and we share and learn about blogging together there. It also provided the platform for the book I co-authored with Nathan Hangen – Beyond Blogging, which tells the stories of 15 of the world’s most successful bloggers. That had an amazing launch and is available at Amazon and major booksellers all over the world.
My strategy with Mike’s Life is to put out really valuable content, for free, as much as I can. I write about 40 posts a month on the site. Then for the people who want a little more, I offer my own products like The Beginner’s Guide to Blogging and The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter. Enough people choose to buy those to ensure I can afford to keep writing the free stuff.
Q: You are very open with your audience, do you find this benefits you?
Mike: I think it’s important if you plan to sell something to your audience, that you are open about yourself and your life. And at the end of the day people do business with people – not with logos or companies.
Buying anything on line requires a higher degree of trust than doing so face to face, and one way of establishing that trust is to share a lot about yourself.
The other aspect that encourages me to share my life is that it’s interesting! I live on a small desert island in The Atlantic Ocean. That’s pretty unusual, so people enjoy reading about my exploits diving and sailing, and to see photos of our carnival processions and so on.
I think one mistake many people make is to assume their lives aren’t interesting to other people. If you’re living a suburban nine to five life in Surrey, that might seem very boring to you. But to an Andalucian Yak farmer, it would be extremely interesting!
Q: How do you deal with writers block and how do you get out of it?
Mike: I’ve never suffered from it, so I can only offer some general advice. If I ever feel my writing is getting a little stale, I get out and do something completely different, to stimulate my senses. I’ll go for a walk, do some diving, kayak a few miles, anything to stop thinking about writing. I always find I come back energised and full of good ideas.
Q: How do you leverage social media?
Mike: I’m good at Twitter and enjoy it, and it gives me a terrific return. I don’t believe in any kind of automation for my Twitter account – I simply invest time and energy into it.
I have several searches set up in Tweetdeck around things like “Twitter help” “New blog” and so on. When I spot people asking questions on those subjects, I try to answer and help them. I never send them to a link to sell them something. I just answer their questions. Most then visit my site, some will become subscribers and a few will end up buying a product from me. The secret is in being social and being helpful.
I’m just starting to apply the same to Facebook, which is a huge market, and to Buzz, which is brand new. I do have what I call “Outposts” at Linkedin and Friendfeed, but you just can’t keep up with everything, so I will continue to major on Twitter.
Q: Any tools you can suggest?
Mike: Livewriter is a fabulous tool for writing blog posts – probably the best thing Microsoft has ever produced. Aside from that I use Google Apps for my domain emails, Chrome as a browser, Reader for RSS feeds, Google Docs for documents and Wave for collaborating online, so I’m a bit of a Google fan!
I also love Remember the Milk for my task list, and I’m a committed Blackberry user.
Q: How can people find you?
Twitter is @mikecj
Facebook is fanpage
And you can get all my other contact details at my contact page
I’m always happy to hear about people and contact directly with them – I don’t hide behind my assistant.
Q: Any helpful tips for beginners?
- Look at every post after you’ve written it. Is it either going to inform or entertain your readers? If neither, then start again.
- Prepare yourself to work really, seriously hard if you want to become a successful blogger. Forget the dreams of four hour work weeks, and blogging from the beach for now. But if you can write, and you are prepared to work hard for a year or two, you can earn a good living as a blogger. Do it for five years, and then you can seriously think about the beach scenario.
Mike Cliffe-Jones is a blogger who lives on a small island off the coast of Africa. His blog, Mike’s Life helps other bloggers who are passionate about writing, create and develop blogs to earn themselves a long term sustainable income. He is also co-author of the best selling book Beyond Blogging.