We have done a few interviews on this site with professional, full-time bloggers, but what about part-time bloggers. The vast majority of people who blog do it in their spare time, therefore I thought it would be a good idea to chat to someone who was doing just that. That’s why I have lined up an interview with John Banks!
John runs a number of sites in his spare time, including a marketing blog ‘JohnBanksBlog.com’. He is a great writer (having written posts for us here) who enjoys helping people in a number of different areas.
Over to John…
John Banks Interview
How Did You Get Started?
Hello everyone. Blimey – I will have to cast my mind back to when I first got started on the Internet. I have always been a keen eBay trader, my wife Natalie and I have always been selling stuff on there and we still do today. I actually think my first websites were in the Google AdSense boom, probably about 10 years ago, but this was when you had to actually know a bit about HTML! It was a nightmare. I think my first site was a site about Surveys – you know the Clickbank stuff. The site was a simple three-page site with some Ads and links to Clickbank products on it. It was terrible – and did not work as I knew nothing about traffic generation. I was very naive and thought if I built a site visitors would just naturally come to it.
I didn’t actually start blogging until last year (2012), but prior to that I toyed around with numerous websites. I set-up a Solar Panel website whilst studying my first year Engineering HNC – a project we had was on Solar Panels and as I was doing it I could see great financial benefits in this so I quickly knocked up a site on one of the free website builder platforms out there. This was OK for a while and I made some money from some adverts and sales from Amazon products, but then the Government slashed the tariffs and it drifted off so I stopped running it.
Then I launched a Tinnitus site – this was my first sort of success. It was great to get some positive feedback from people. I have a condition called Menieres Disease and unfortunately one symptom of this is 24/7 tinnitus. This was my first experience using WordPress, I now have around several active sites all using WordPress.
I have always been fascinated with the Internet and making money online so this is why I decided to give this niche a go with the blog. It took off slowly and has just grown from there really. This is now my main focus.
What Other Blogs Do You Run?
As far as blogs go I only run my own now. The Tinnitus site was mainly a squeeze page for my 5 day Tinnitus relief course. I do have other sites but they are small niche sites. I have sites in Psychology, Digital Cameras, Sports Coupons, Loans and Business Help that all tick over.
Who/What Inspires You?
When it comes to inspiration I have a few in the online world. I really like the work of Rob Cornish, I was privileged to meet him at a conference and we had a great conversation. He basically steered me in my thinking mindset that you can make a good living online. I now probably speak with him via email at least a couple of times a month.
I also really respect Tom Ewer, this guy has a fantastic blog. And it is hard not to get inspired and motivated by it. I guess I find his work inspirational because he has done the part-time to full-time transition very well indeed. Everyone should check him out – definitely one to watch.
As far as my friends and family – this is going to sound weird but I don’t think they actually “know” what I do online. If I say I make money online to my friends and family I think they assume it must be eBay or gambling.
If I said to them I promote products via affiliate marketing, use Adsense to generate revenue or that I use CPA networks for email/zip submits and I get paid a commission, they would probably stare straight through me with the theme tune of “The Magic Roundabout” in their heads.
That said, Natalie is supportive and she just lets me get on with it when I can.
What Motivates You?
I suppose since we had our two wonderful daughters this has probably motivated me the most. I want something that maybe they can read or maybe even use one day. The financial rewards are all for them – only they don’t know it yet. Everything I earn with my online ventures goes towards my family in some way or another. Whether it be a mortgage payment or a family holiday – my earnings are all for them.
Another thing that is on my mind is my medical condition, Menieres Disease. This is a balance disorder and at times I do have to take time off work. There is no cure and sometimes I think – what if one day I could not work because of this? So – I always like to key my eye in online in case I am ever forced out of work.
What’s Your Typical Work Day Like?
My alarm goes off at 5:45am for my day-job. I work as a Engineer for a Fibre Laser Company. Usually on my way to work I listen to a podcast of something “Online Related” a couple of times a week. This usually gets the juices flowing for maybe a blog post or another project to some degree. I work until 3pm, but during my lunch break I am often able to catch up on some social media stuff, usually straight from my phone. I would say 80% of my social media work is done from my mobile.
Also, thanks to my smart phone I am able to check my blog emails on the go, this is a life-saver as we all know how quick the inbox can fill up these days!
When I get home, usually around 3:30pm I try to spend some time with the kids and the family. Once the madness is over – usually around 8:00pm I crack on with my online work, which 80% of the time is just on my blog. I do not write posts every day, I try to post about once per week so doing just a couple of hours a night allows me to keep to this schedule. I can obviously fit more in at weekends.
What Is It Like Blogging In Your Spare Time
Sometimes it can be tough – and I do not do it every night. Although it is a hobby and I love doing it, I have to take a break sometimes. But I keep on doing it, the good days definitely outweigh the bad days. It is a great feeling when I get an email on my phone saying that “Mr. X has just paid you $47 for such and such into your PayPal account” – these emails make it worth doing. And, I must admit it’s when I get these emails that I do ask myself could I do this full-time?
I also find it so rewarding when I get a positive email with someone genuinely thanking me for something they have read or something I have sent them. Its these moments that make it all worthwhile.
Part-Time Blogger or Full Time Blogger?
Ahh, I see that I just lead nicely into this question! My answer would be – I would love too, but here are my reasons why I don’t – yet.
Number one: Security, I have a great job and they pay and look after me very well. I have a great pension fund, BUPA health care, sick pay and 25 days holiday plus paid bank holidays. As I have a family and a mortgage it is just too much of a risk to go full-time blogging at the moment. I am however, trying to build something online that I want to be sustainable long-term so who knows what the future will bring?…
Number two: This may seem daft but I do not have a big enough house. Let me explain, if my kids are at home and I try to do work there is no chance! Numberjacks on YouTube or Angry Birds on the laptop will win over me doing work online. If I was ever to work from home I would need my own office or maybe have to go to the library or something as there are too many distractions at home in the day presently.
What’s The Most Important Part Of Your Site?
When I started out I did not really have a style, I would just write very basic posts that just added to the mediocre material there is out there. I like to think that my blog brings my own writing style to it now – I write like I speak and this tends to go down well with my readers. I also like to write really informative stuff, that can make a difference. There is so much average stuff out there in blog land that I try to write posts that will genuinely help people out. The beauty of posting only once or maybe twice per week is that I can prepare a lot for it. Sometimes I spend weeks preparing for a post, gathering data, trialling stuff, checking out related links etc…
I try to fit the same criteria with people who wish to guest post on my blog. I have recently opened the doors to this, and whilst I do not like turning people away the content has to be right for the site or I will not post it.
Take for example my post on making eBook covers, sure it uses a free site but there are still many people out there who do not know “how” to do it. So, my post was a step by step guide showing them every detail as I make one with them.
My new eBook ‘Free & Easy Traffic‘ is the same, each of the traffic strategies I talk about in the book also has a step by step user guide showing exactly how to do it. I have tried to make it very simple, sort of a click here, do this, type here guide. Very straight forward.
What Makes You The Most Money?
It’s my blog or my list – which every way you look at it all the affiliate sales come from my blog. I very rarely promote to my list, although I do send them to posts on my blog that may contain products with affiliate links that I recommend. Usually the day a post goes live is when I see the most sales from it, but I also promote via Twitter sometimes and the other social platforms and have had some success with this.
I have in the past played around with Adsense on my blog but I do not like driving people away if I can help it so I try to avoid it! But I am a tinker so sometimes I put it back on. Adsense used to be great for me with my other niche sites but since the Google slaps they make very low income nowadays. I am working with Squidoo lenses now though, still very much in the experimental phase but I see great potential with these. I plan to add some of these to my portfolio soon, which will hopefully add more Amazon revenue and Adsense.
I also run a Banners Broker campaign, this has had some bad press recently but I got in very early so I made my initial outlay back a long time ago. This still pulls in $400 every couple of months or so. I do absolutely nothing with this – I have not even recruited any affiliates. How much longer this will last I do not know…..
If You Could Go Back In Time 5-10 Years, What Advice Would You Give Yourself?
My only regret is not doing it sooner, who knows where I could be if I had started the blog with the focus I have now maybe 10 years ago. I know I mentioned I did start things online many years ago but I was only really experimenting, nothing of any real substance ever came out of my online ventures back then. I qualified as a Certified Internet Webmaster around the same time but I did not continue with this field of work. At the time web design was very competitive and was not really for me. Plus the course was very expensive and shortly after I qualified the company I was studying with went bust – and so did my chance of working with them.
I used to also worry and care what other people thought too much, I still am guilty of this a bit but no way near as much. This used to prevent me from doing certain things online but now when I compare what I have done to many other sites I see online I am actually quite proud of my work.
My advice now is – don’t worry what people think too much, people will always be out there to knock you down. These people are not worth caring about.
What Would Be Your Best Piece Of Advice To Any Newbie Blogger Out There Reading This?
There are quite a few. Like learning about social media, without at least a basic knowledge of this your blog will get left behind, or like some will fail to even get going.
Consider a mentor. Everyone who I know who has been successful blogging or online marketing has worked with other successful people in the same field.
My best piece of advice though would be:
Do not try to run before you can walk. Learn the basics first. I see so many people go head first into this and wonder why they are not making substantial money after the first three months. Setting up a good, profitable site takes time. There are no magic buttons, although many people will try to sell you one. There are many tools you can have in your blogging toolbox, learn as many as you can and over time your blog will become the success you want it to be.