Interview With Six Figure Blogger, David Risley

Today we’ve got an interview with David Risley, from www.davidrisley.com. I introduce him at the beginning of the call but I’ll give a quick one now. David is the guy you go to when you need some straight, down-to-earth advice. He knows his stuff and makes a full-time living from his Internet businesses, not from his blog. The blog is just a means to an end. So I am happy he agreed to share some of his insights into Email Marketing and List building.

James: Okay, hello everyone. Thank you for listening, and welcome to the call today. On the call we meet is David Risley. He is a professional blogger and businessman. He’s the guy behind Blogmasters Club. And he’s a family man as well. You know, and we’ll see pictures of his kids on Twitter and stuff. I love reading his blog because he’s one of the very few people that tell it like it is, and actually injecting love, his personality, into what he does. So, thank you for joining me on this call, David. You know, I appreciate it. Thanks.

David Risley: No problem. Thanks for having me.

James: Alright, David. So can you tell us a little bit about what you do, I mean just in case people don’t know about that, right, what you do online and basically how you make money off your blog?

David Risley: Sure. Well, I’ve been blogging for quite some time, probably – I lost count – every 12 years, like that. I got my start as a technology blogger, and I still run that site at PCMech.com.

James: Yeah, PCMech.com. Yeah

David Risley: Yeah, PCMech.com. And that basically was a geek blogger for the longest time, and then basically I think it was in 2007, I think, or maybe 2008, I decided to start Davidrisley.com. and start actually showing other people who wanted to learn how to make money with their blog do it because obviously it’s a good market. And I have been doing it for many years before that, and just nobody really knew me that way. Basically, I went on from there. And I basically make the money on the tech site, primarily the membership site that I have on there. And I do run some banner ads, and do a little bit of affiliate promotions although that particular market’s a little light in that department. And then, over on Davidrisley.com, it’s very similar except that I don’t do any banner ads. It’s all just my own products and some affiliate stuff.

James: Okay, okay. So what would you say – I know this is probably like a trick question, right – but where would you prefer to work on, PCMech or Davidrisley.com?

David Risley: Do you mean which site do I like the best?

James: Yeah, yeah. I know you’re expecting that. Just tell me, which one do you see as your baby, like which do you prefer working on?

David Risley: These days, most of my time gets dedicated to the Davidrisley.com audience. At the PCMech.com audience, I have people that are helping me with the content over there. So I primarily, other than some occasional blog posts, I primarily run the business aspect for that site and most of my own time goes into the blogging crowd.

James: Alright, that’s good. That’s good. So yeah, we have some questions here about email marketing, right. So, let’s get right to it. So basically, you know, we always hear about people saying that, you know, building an email list is actually very important but some people may not actually understand why it is important. So, can you actually explain to us why do you think it’s important to have an email list for your business?

David Risley: Well, I mean, the easy answer would be so that you can market things to them later. But it actually goes a little bit deeper than that, you know. I’ve said it before but basically any website including a blog is essentially a reactionary medium unless you have an email list. You know, you post something out there, and it’s basically up to them to decide to check out your blog and see if you have anything to say. And so, you really don’t have pretty much control over it. However, if you have your list, then, you can point people at things anytime you want, that what really jives your community together, you know. From a business perspective, if you don’t have a way of mobilizing your community’s attention and pointing them at something, whether it’d be a product or just a blog post, you’ve really built nothing. So, it’s like super important. And it doesn’t even matter if the blogger has, you know, intentions of making a business out of it. Even if you do everything for free, you still need an email list.

James: Alright. So, it’s more of like getting that, you know, instant contact with your audience, right. Like being able to talk to someone and then, getting a response from that, right.

David Risley: Yeah. Like for example, if I post a blog post on Davidrisley.com you can usually tell just by the number of comments on the post whether I’ve emailed out or not

James: Oh, really?

David Risley: Yeah, usually the posts that don’t have that much commentaries because I just decided not to email my list about it. And then you know if you get posts that have 40 or 50 or more comments, it’s typically because I emailed my list. And it really just shows the amount of attention that it gets.

James: Actually I thought you get that automatically, right? Basically when you hit publish, that goes straight out to your list. That doesn’t work that way? Do you prefer to not send every post to your list?

David Risley: Yeah, I basically pick and choose. I mean, these days, I tend to send most of my posts to the list. It just kind of depends on what I’ve got going on that week. But it’s definitely not automatic. I basically made the judgment call that in order for me to build the best relationship with the people on my list, they need to hear from me personally and not have it be abut doing the work.

James: Yeah. I understand. That’s really right, because they’ll move having that personal touch basically right there.

David Risley: Yeah. And you know the other thing too, I mean, if all I did was send my exact blog post to my list, so what’s the point of coming to the site. So, I’d rather send them some type of a teaser, or something like that. Yeah.

James: Yeah, and get them to come over. Yeah. Because I was wondering, any time I actually see an email from you and I go over to the blog post, I get down and I already see like 20 or 30 comments already. Sometimes I would go, I’m actually late reading this blog or something.

David Risley: Well the thing is you came in from the list and so did everybody else. So I mean, it really, really helps. I mean if I don’t email the list, I mean that say on average, I’m going to get 5 or 10 comments on the post. But in my post today, I think it’s about to break 40 comments. It’s because I sent an email out this morning about it.

James: Alright, alright. Yeah. Actually, I saw a blog from Darren Rowser the other day. So basically he showed his Google analytics, an image of when he hits publish and when he actually sends out an email to the list, then people are going to come and read and you can basically see a spike when that happens, when he does send the email to the list.

David Risley: Oh, yeah. It’s normal. I see the same thing.

James: That’s good. So you say, to be able to mobilize people to take action, you know, either come into your blog to read or basically come to do stuff….

David Risley: Yeah, I mean, if you look at the blog, the Internet itself, it’s reactionary. And basically, it sits there. And if anybody looks at it, they look at it, you at look something like Twitter, and there’s so much noise out there that’s really hard to say about. So, whereas most people view their email inbox as a very, very personal experience, and that adds where you have maximum attention right there.

James: Okay, cool. That sounds good. So yeah, another question comes up, right. We always hear that there is money in the list, you know. Why is that statement true and why would you say there is money in the list?

David Risley: Well it really comes down to what we’re just talking about in terms of being able to mobilize people and point them at things. And obviously if you point them at something which is going to make you money, that’s where the money is. Yeah. But also another thing to clarify and I’ve heard other people say this as well but it’s not just in the list. The money is really in the relationship that you have with that list.

James: Exactly. Yeah, that’s something I actually discovered as well. So, I mean, can you just explain to us what do you mean by that, like the relationship with the people that you have?

David Risley: Well, you want the people on your list to feel like they’ve got some type of a bond with you, basically as close to a friend as possible without the requirement that you’ve met in person. And that’s where they are going to actually react to what you had to say otherwise it’s just going to be, you know, silence when you email your list. So, you want them to know they can trust you and actually, hopefully look forward to getting emails from you. And that’s what I mean by relationship. So you know, and typically it just comes down to again, not sending out your automated broadcast and just being real in introducing a little bit of your own personality to it, things like that.

James: That’s good. Yeah. Okay, so now, let’s say now, I’ve been convinced to build an email list, right, and I want to set it up. So, what are the three things you would say I should do to go about setting up an email list for myself or for my blog for example?

David Risley: Well, the first one would be to get a decent solution to put your list on. Most of my readers know that I use and recommend Aweber. I happen to think they’re the best people out there to put your list on. Obviously there are other companies and I’m not going to speak against them because they’re probably falling, too. But Aweber just happens to be my favorite. You know I used to self-host my list in order to save money, and I realized what a mistake that was. I mean, I was sending emails out, this is for my PCMech list, and they may or may not have actually arrived in the people’s inbox. There are just so many factors and play between you pressing send and then actually getting there. You know, people spam filters, or ISP’s blacklisting your domain name for one reason to another. You never really know. So, when you go with a real list provider, all that’s stuff is pretty taken much care of for you.

James: Okay, so that’s for deliverability, right? To be sure that your emails get delivered.

David Risley: Yeah. And you know it does cost a little bit of money typically, unless you go with MailChimp. I think they offer a free account, up to maybe 500…like that. But I recommend Aweber anyway. And then, the next thing is to create something that actually entices people to get on to your list. I mean, typically, that’s just giving away an eBook. But however, you can get creative. I mean in some markets, they see so many eBooks that you’re going to have a hard time standing out with an eBook. So you know, in that case, you could do maybe a video series or maybe free access to a membership site, or you put some cool stuff in there. You know, things that you can do that are creative but you know, it’s important to give something away. Especially these days where people really are more likely to guard their email address, you’ve got to give them a really compelling reason to sign up. And you know, I see so many bloggers say, you know, get my free tips, or you know, get my newsletter, it’s too weak of an invite. It’s not really going to work in this case.

James: Yeah, that’s a good one because I mean if you think about it, they need to have an incentive, they need to see an incentive to actually sign up, to actually motivate them to actually sign up for that.

David Risley: Yeah. And along that line is you know, let’s say, you’ve already made the thing that you’re going to give them, is you really got to sell it to them. And I’m not talking about collecting money obviously. But just like, you got to like convince them and psychologically get them interested in what it is you’re about to give them. So, you know, usually what I recommend is just to take 2 or 3 bullet points out of the thing that you’re giving them and rephrase them in such a way to where it spikes their curiosity and really makes them want to know what the answer is.

James: Yeah, because people actually don’t know that’s __. It’s actually harder to sell something that is free. Than to sell something they actually have to pay for. So, yeah.

David Risley: Sometimes. Yeah. Again, it just depends on the market as well. But people are so jaded out there these days that they just turn blind to this stuff unless you got to go beyond just putting a picture of an eBook there these days in order to get them to react.

James: Exactly. Alright. Okay, that was good. So, now the next thing is selling the opt. I have an opt-in form basically in my side bar, and no one is subscribing, you know. How do I change that? How do I get people to actually sign up. Are there any strategies? I know you’ve given us one, you know, basically giving an incentive for people to sign up. Can you expand on that? How can we implement that?

David Risley: Yeah. Well, the incentive is a big one. The second one would be just to sell it like I said before. I mean it comes into really knowing your audience and knowing what they need and want. Hopefully, I mean, most markets that are really good, you’re tapping into something that represents a real life desire that your reader has and if you can help them with that, you know, you’re off to the races. So with your free giveaway, you give to something of value that will help them with that real life thing. And then, just demonstrate that that’s the case. You know, the other thing would be placement. I mean, you mentioned a sidebar, and typically that’s a pretty weak place to put an opt-in. It doesn’t work for most people. It just happened to be the easiest place to put it, and I put them in the sidebar as well. The thing is you have to mix it up by also putting it in other places. So, you know, I put one on the top of my homepage, in the footer. I’m pretty sure that I’ve got one. With PCMech, I have one underneath the post itself. So the idea there is that, you know, they read your blog post, they get some value out of it and then you give them something to do, which is you know, get on my list. You can also use a pop-up by PopUp Domination or something like that. It does work really well. And I know a lot of bloggers, they tend to be against those types of things but there’s no getting around the fact that it works much better than typical opt-in forms. I mean the numbers don’t lie.

James: Yeah, exactly. There’s always a debate, you know, when people say it’s kind of scammy. It’s like that. But I think if it works, it does work for a reason. And I think PopUp Domination actually helps because it is classy. It looks, you know, well-designed not just like the typical popup form that you normally see out there, basically.

David Risley: Yeah, and the big thing, too, is like if you’re giving them an offer which is truly compelling, they’re not really complaining. And the other thing is what PopUp Domination or anything similar is you can set a repeat interval. So, as long that you don’t you know, bust them in their face every time they come. You know, I think I’ve got mine set right now to a 30-day interval. So, if they see it once, they close it. They’re not going to see it for a month.

James: Yeah, that’s good. That’s good stuff there. So, what about using word-of-mouth to promote your list? You know, I’m of the opinion that the best people to promote your stuff are the people that already find value in what you have already. So, I mean, getting the people on your list to say, you know what, check out these presents and free stuff. I mean, like, how do you go about in that then?

David Risley: Well, it’s really about creating something that can have a viral potential to it. You know in the blogging space, and you know, the social media is a pretty big way of spreading the word. That’s really not that way in other markets. My tech crowd, they say Twitter is a big pile of crap. So if I try get them to retweet something, it’s just the chances are not that good. Yeah, maybe Facebook. Maybe. But not just Twitter. But you know if you can create something and then enable them to spread the word of it by giving them a button to retweet it. You know, if you give them a free eBook or something, you can actually put links, encyclopedia that actually or will retweet or go write to Twitter.com and please fill out the Tweet. All they got to do is hit the submit button. Yeah. There are multiple ways to do it.

James: Enabling people like giving them options to share your stuff. That is what you would say is the good way to do that, right?

David Risley: Yeah. I mean, and then you can even go further. I mean, you can run contests. One of the requirements to enter the contest is to retweet or to share on Facebook. You know, I mean it’s really up to your imagination. You know, you could also do something where they get on your lists and then you give them something else that they retweet it.

James: Yeah. I like that. I actually have an idea that’s going on. WhichI’m actually thinking of launching in the future. But we’ll talk about that later but basically, word-of-mouth enable people to like, give them ways of sharing your stuff. That’s what you would say is the best way to use word-of-mouth to promote your stuff, right?

David Risley: Yeah. I mean, I guess the two big bullet points here would be A: Make something that’s worthy of being shared. And then, secondly, enable them to do it. You actually have to step up and ask. You know I mean you might have some people that will share otherwise, but chances are, they’re not going to do unless you ask them.

James: Yeah. Exactly. It’s the call to action, right?

David Risley: Right.

James: So when people are on your list, so you’ve got them on the list, and what are the ways of keeping them engaged? Because basically, the longer they are, the more valuable they become. The more engaged they are with you know contents. So, what are the ways to keep people engaged who are on the list?

David Risley: Well, probably, first I’ll talk about the way I do. And that is I make sure that I stay in touch with my list routinely, and typically I do that, then sending them into my blog. And, you know, so I try to post to my blog about three times a week right now, and sometimes more. Like I said, I don’t email them on everything. I want to make sure that I actually email my list that’s something that’s worth emailing them about. You know, it’s a matter of maintaining that consistency. My list will very rarely go a week without hearing from me. Typically, they will hear from me at least a couple of times. Yeah. It just keeps the relationship there otherwise they tend to forget. You know, I see some people who will build a list and then, they just really don’t email that much. And the problem is when you then turn around and email, then, they might be like, “What the heck is this?” And they want to get off their list. You know, the other thing is if you intend to use your list as a marketing tool, you need to, I guess, “screen” your subscribers to realize that that’s something that you do. So, every now and then, just drop a promo for something. Even if your list isn’t that big because you know, the thing is what you really want to do is make it so that they don’t get, you know, pissed with you when it comes down to actually mark or something to them.

James: That sounds good. So in the end, it’s all about keeping in touch, right. Staying, in the front of their minds. So you basically don’t disappear for like a month, and then decide to email them after a month. And they are like who is this guy talking to me right here.

David Risley: Yeah, consistency has been the other thing as value. In my case, there are some people out there who, every time they email, it’s because they’re trying to make money.

James: Exactly. I know.

David Risley: Yeah. So, I’m big on doing that. I will email my list to make money. In fact, next week I’m going be doing that. But most of my emails are not to make money. And you know, I think a balance is in order.

James: Yeah. Find a perfect balance between promotions and content that you actually sent to your list, right there. And you also actually do inject some personality into what you say. Like today, for example, you had a post about you’re going on a diet, or you’re going to have to take a diet program. So what is that about? Is it something that you like to do, this is to show people about your life? I mean, that also helps to create a relationship or bond with people that are on the list?

David Risley: Sure. I mean, it was kind of a dual thing today. I mean, basically, you know, I’m using my audience to help hold me accountable in that whole diet.

James: That is exciting That’s got to take some guts.

David Risley: Oh, I don’t have some people. I actually have one guy on Twitter. He comes off like he’s going to be my drill sergeant to this.

James: Yeah I saw that.

David Risley: It’s going to be a blast. But obviously, one of the side effects is that yeah it is involving people with me a little bit more. And you know, obviously from a marketing standpoint, that helps. I can’t say that was my main reason for doing it. It’s mainly just to make sure that I don’t jump off the wagon. [Laughs]

James: Yeah, I think we’ll all be watching you. We’d be watching you David, so let’s see how that goes.

David Risley: Yeah, there was this one guy he was like, “You know you should start your thing now. And just do it in Vegas.” I mean like…

James: And then, you were like, you can’t do it from a hotel room, right.

David Risley: We’re talking about the power 90 program here. I mean, it’s pretty intense. I don’t even have a DVD player in the hotel room. So, I don’t’ know how that’s going to work.

James: I know, I know. I guess when you come back, you can have everything from scratch and then, get on the…

David Risley: Yeah, I’ve got 2 conferences, a back to back coming up here, and when I get back from that it’s going to be you know, 100% doing that.

James: Yeah, good stuff. Yeah. I think we’re out of time. Thank you for talking to me today. I’m sure you have a lot of things going on, you know, with the Blog World Expo coming up and also the other conferences that you have as well. Yeah, so, thank you for that. You’re launching your Blogmasters Club soon, right? I mean I got…

David Risley: Right now, I don’t…Yeah I’ve got a tentative date that’s scheduled for probably around mid November right now, but I’ve still got a lot of ducks to get into a row before I hit the go button on that. But it’s probably going to be in roughly a month that I’m going to open that thing up again. And then, I’m also going to be running a membership drive into the Inner Circle while I’m on my way in Vegas, to really get that thing off the ground in a nice, strong way.

James: Okay. If people want to get to know you like the Inner Circle or Blogmasters Club, where can they find you? Where can they get information about you?

David Risley: Best bet is my blog, Davidrisley.com. And you can also go to Blogmastersclub.com. The primary thing right there now is to obtain and get the Six-Figure Blogger Blueprint which is my factual report that I’ve had for some time, and a little sneak peek if there’s a 2.0 version that is completed and that will be released when I start launching Blogmasters Club.

James: Okay, so we’re looking forward to that. We’re looking forward to that.

David Risley: Yeah.

James: Alright. Thank you very much, David, for speaking to me. And, yeah, I appreciate it.

David Risley: Great. Thanks.

James: Alright, Thank you very much, David. Bye-bye.