Leo Babauta is a facinating person.
Leo started a website back in 2007 and has enjoyed an incredible amount of success ion the blogosphere. So much so that his blog was ranked by Time magazine as one of the Top 25 blogs in the world with about 200,000 readers! I had a great chat with Leo about his blog and all things zen!
Todd: How long have you been doing business as an Internet Entrepreneur and is this a part-time or full-time gig for you?
Leo: I started Zen Habits at the beginning of 2007, and have been doing it full time since the beginning of 2008.
Todd: Do you have a well defined niche you cater to? Can you tell us about it?
Leo: No, I write for the general public — basically, everyone wants to improve their life in some way, whether that’s through simplifying, becoming fitter and healthier, finding happiness, becoming more effective at work, or getting out of debt. By not focusing on a niche, I have a much wider audience than most blogs — not to brag, but I have 200,000 subscribers, mostly because I try to solve problems that most people have.
Todd: Why did you decide to cater to that market? Are you also a client or did it just happen by chance?
Leo: I’ve been wanting to improve my life for a long time, and when I finally figured out how to do it, I was so excited that I had to share it with others. So basically, I’m catering to myself, and sharing that with the rest of the world.
Todd: Can you tell our readers what your main sources of revenue are? Products, software/programs, advertising, affiliate sales or memberships?
Leo: My only source of income these days is selling my own content — books, ebooks, courses, and so on.
Todd: Why did you decide to focus on those types of products?
Leo: It’s the only kind that I can sincerely and fully recommend. People come to my site because they like my content, so they’re the perfect audience for more of my content — the paid kind. Advertising and affiliate programs are forms of recommendations, and I can’t recommend the products of others as fully as I can stand behind my own products.
Todd: What advice would you give a new business owner trying to generate traffic? Are there some “secrets” that have worked for you that you can share?
Leo: No secrets. I built up an audience by sharing as much free, useful information as I could. I didn’t do it by hyping up my work, but by being useful, by doing it in my life and then sharing what I did. It worked — my site grew really quickly, and by the end of my first year I was able to quit my day job, I’d signed a book deal, I had 26,000 subscribers, and I had gotten completely out of debt.
Todd: Do you use any automation tools that you wish you knew about when you first started (like socialoomph for automatically sending tweets etc)?
Leo: No. Instead of automating, I usually simplify. If something is so tedious I don’t want to do it myself, I eliminate it and focus on what I love.
Todd: Okay, I call this “What’s under the hood?”. What are the five tools you use most?
Leo: WordPress for my website. I don’t use any stats program, I eliminated stats tracking from my site. I use Google Docs for project planning. I don’t use any SEO tools, I believe SEO is a waste of time. Create great content instead. A tool I couldn’t live without: A text editor.
Todd: Any other advice or information you would like to share with our readers?
Leo: Don’t create a business to grow your search engine traffic, reach a certain number of sales, make money. Create a business based on what you’re passionate about, be genuine, be real. People can sense sales tactics and traffic tactics — do you really want to make a name as a slick spammer? Create something amazing, and the rest will follow.
Todd: Leo, I really appreciate taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I feel honoured to have someone like you participate in our interview.
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