Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire podcast. I’m Jaime Tardy and I’m honored today to have Michael Hyatt on the show. He is an author of many books. His most recent one is called Platform: How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World. He also was the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, a very large publishing company, and he has a huge blog with over 240,000 subscribers. So I am so excited to have him on the show today. Thanks so much for coming on, Michael.
MICHAEL HYATT: Thanks, Jaime. It’s great to be with you.
JAIME TARDY: So one of the reasons why I am so excited to have you on is because I get asked all the time about building a platform and that’s not really what I talk about. I don’t talk about building an online business or anything like that, but I get asked constantly. So you’re here today. You can help us all out. Tell me first what Platform is about just a little bit so we have an idea on what you usually talk about.
MH: The word originally meant that thing that you stand on to get seen or to get heard. It used to be that somebody had to give you a platform. You had to have a stage or a television show or a radio show or something like that. Everything changed in about 2006 with the advent of social media and so now a platform really refers to people. It’s your fans, your followers, your customers – the people that really share your same passion for the same message that you are concerned about.
JT: Awesome. This is great because we’re allowed to build this in this forum today. Like I’m from Maine and I tell everybody. I have more Facebook fans than I have people in my town, which is ridiculous. I live in a small town but it’s amazing what we can sort of do today. So what do you suggest, because I’ve heard your story before, you’ve been blogging for a very long time and I heard that the first four years you had less than 1,000 subscribers.
MH: That’s right.
JT: So I want to hear about that year when you went from 1,000 to I think you said like 20,000. What happened in that year to really explode your growth?
MH: It was really interesting, because I don’t know if I just wasn’t focused on growth or I was just trying to be faithful to just kind of write and be consistent at it. But a couple of things happened in that fourth year that took me from 1,000 a month to 22,000 a month and one of them was that I got really rigorous about being consistent and blogging three times a week so that people could count on me showing up in their inbox or in their RSS feed on a regular basis.
Another thing that happened, sometimes this happens if you just show up is good things happen and some big blogs like Life Hacker picked up a few of my posts and exposed me to a really big audience. So that was a huge help as well. And then I got really involved in social media. I had never heard of Twitter before and I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever heard of.
JT: I did too at first.
MH: But I got involved in it and I just decided to reach out and start building a following there and it exploded. It was awesome. So that was kind of exponential growth. I always tell people don’t quit before the inflection point and most people do unfortunately right before it gets interesting.
JT: Like Seth Godin talks about the dip and that point where you’re not sure. I mean you went four years. Four years is a long time to go without getting a lot of traction, especially if it didn’t keep growing and making progress. So let’s dig a little bit deeper into that too because I want to know like how many more hours did you have to work a week comparatively from 1,000 to 22,000 when you were growing it.
MH: You know, not that much honestly. I think a lot of it was just I had now a stated intention and kind of built a discipline into my life. But I think it’s important for people to know that this wasn’t a full-time occupation at the time. I was the CEO of a very large publishing company. So I had to do this just like so many people do when they’re starting any business or any kind of entrepreneurial enterprise. I did it on the side. I tried to grab a few hours in the evening, late at night after the kids were in bed or up early in the morning before everybody got up.
I would say probably I devoted maybe 45 minutes to an hour every day. In my view, that wasn’t that much. I was able to start monetizing it almost immediately and so saw some return and at least saw the potential of it in those early days.
JT: So I love that because we have so many people that are and I used to do a corporate job and stuff like that, doing corporate job. Maybe they like it like you did. You actually liked yours. Other people don’t necessarily like it but it’s really cool to be able to see that you did it too and started sort of something on the side. So tell me a little bit more though about doing that. First of all, you just talked about monetizing it so soon after. How did you go from, I’m assuming you didn’t really monetize 1,000 fans too too much to like monetizing when you started getting it out there and getting it traction?
MH: What happened is when I went to 22,000 I decided to convert my blog to Word Press and so the guy that converted it for me over to Word Press he said to me, he said, “Do you realize you can monetize this? I mean you’ve got enough traffic now that you might be able to attract advertisers.” I said, “You’re kidding.” I said, “Really?” It just never occurred to me before. He said, “Yeah, I think you can make a couple thousand dollars a month. It would at least cover some of your expenses and begin to build toward a revenue stream.” So I said, “All right, let’s try it.”
I think initially, when I did it, I appealed to some of my friends that had businesses that I believed in and businesses that I had an affinity for and I said, “Look, I want to run an ad for you for free for 30 days and then at the end of that you can tell me what it’s worth or is it worth anything to you and if not, it’s okay we’re still friends.” So I had a bunch of people take me up on that. Sure enough it started driving some traffic, not to all their sites, but to most of them. So they started paying me. Then I got a little more sophisticated about it but that was like the first revenue stream. Again, it probably wasn’t even $1,000 a month initially. But it quickly began to build as my traffic built.
JT: So then how long did it take you to go from like 20 something to I mean 240,000 is ridiculous. I mean that’s one of the biggest blogs online I’m assuming, right?
MH: Yes, it really is big. It took me about six years, eight years total, but about six years to really begin to build that momentum and really get it to its current level.
JT: What I want to know and what everybody sort of wants to know is if you were starting today, this is the key question everybody wants to know, if you were starting today and you didn’t have the contacts and the network so you could ask for guest posts or anything like that, what would you do and how long do you think it would take you to build up like that? Especially that initial first 20,000, you know, we don’t really care about 240 right now, 240,000, because that seems so far in advance, but what would you do and how long would it take you do you think to get to the first 20,000?
MH: I will say that this is why I wrote my book and I really do believe that it’s possible to shorten the cycle because I made so many mistakes. One of the things was I didn’t have a coherent social media strategy. I was doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Dabbling in this and it really wasn’t concentrated like it is today. One of the things that I lay out in the book is I talk about, first of all, this is what I recommend – build your home base. Know what your home base is and this is a place in cyberspace that you own and control. For most people, that’s going to be a blog, but it could be a podcast, video or audio. It could be a video channel.
But it’s a place you own and control. Then I would begin to use social media, as I do now, as embassies. Places that I don’t own and control, but places where I have a presence and I can always refer people back to my blog. So I would start there. I would really focus on trying to create the most remarkable content I could. Now honestly I don’t do that every day. I may do it 1 in 10 posts, but I really aim for awesome. That’s my goal. I think just, as opposed to just throwing stuff out there, you’ve got to really shoot for a high standard.
JT: So tell us how you do that, because I’ve done this in the past where I put something out and I’m like ooh I think this is the best thing ever and then it doesn’t really get a lot or I put something out and I’m like “mm” and then it goes crazy and everybody is like this is your best post yet, this is awesome. How do we know?
MH: You don’t and this is an important indicator. In fact, I just, this happened to me yesterday with my podcast. I’ve realized there is no correlation between how I feel about something I create and what the response is in the market, because honestly I was recording my podcast this last Tuesday for Wednesday and when I got done with it, it was just, it was a long drawn out process. It took longer than it should of. I thought this sucks. Nobody is going to like it. I really wanted to quit. I put it out there and like it went to number two in the business category within a matter of a few hours and I started getting all these email from people and I went, you know, I’m such a rookie. I just don’t have any idea but I’m just going to stick with it. So that’s kind of my philosophy.
JT: That’s what we want to hear. We want to hear you thinking, I think that kind of sucks. You know what I mean? That’s really important for us to know.
MH: But I do still have those same feelings and I just press through them. I think that’s really one of the differences between somebody that’s a pro and somebody that’s an amateur and I’ve been reading Steven Pressfield’s book on this, which is wonderful, Going Pro. It’s somebody who, in spite of their feelings of wanting to quit, in spite of their feelings of inadequacy, they just keep pressing on.
JT: I think that’s so important, because we all have that. I think a lot of the times someone looks at someone like you – 240,000 subscribers – oh you’re perfect. You’re doing everything right. It’s amazing. You always have to be confident, especially when you’re a speaker. Someone will go up and go oh you’re an amazing speaker. They assume you’re like that all the time. You know exactly what you’re doing. Everything is perfect. But to be able to hear that it’s great.
MH: Speaking is a breeze for me. I really do have a lot of self doubt when I speak. Once I step on the stage, all that kind of dissipates and then I’m in the moment, especially if I focus on the listeners and not myself. I think the same thing is true with blogging. The same thing is true probably for you with video podcasting where if you really can focus on your audience and get your attention off yourself, then you can really begin to make a difference.
JT: That’s what I love about interviews, right, it’s totally not about me. It’s all about the amazing people that I bring on and building relationships with them and all that fun stuff too. I think that’s why, to me, and actually I want to transition to this then too, because I want to talk about books. You are the guy, right, that knows all about books. To me, it’s funny. I started a video podcast because I’m not a writer, to me. I’m not a writer. I love communication. I love talking. I love interviewing. I love this stuff. So I decided to go this route.
But now I’m writing a book and it’s very hard to go I’m not a writer. I’m writing a book proposal right now. I’ve already downloaded, I’ve bought your book about creating a book proposal. By the way, your book Platform everybody should get. It gives tactical, really awesome ways to build your platform.
MH: Thank you.
JT: But also, if you’re thinking about getting a literary agent or book proposal stuff, you’re books are great. I mean we already, we should know that already. Most people probably already know that already but I want to give you a high five for that. It has been amazing.
MH: Thank you.
JT: So tell me, because I actually got my literary agent, because he found me. I had a couple really amazing literary agents find me, which was amazing.
MH: That’s awesome.
JT: Yes, because I had a little bit of a platform. Just a little bit. But now they keep talking to me about platform over and over. What do I need? I know I have some and your book gives tons of great tips but I want to know from someone who is writing a book proposal, how big is this platform supposed to be? As big as possible, I know, but, in your experience, from going over publishing book proposals, what do we need?
MH: It’s hard to say because a lot of it depends on a level of engagement. I’ve talked to television hosts who didn’t really have that much influence because nobody could pick them out of a crowd. They were just one of many even though they were on television. On the other hand, I’ve talked to bloggers who have really an engaged 1,000, 2,000 fans and they really have influence over those people. It’s awesome.
My friend Jeff Goins, who writes at Goinswriter.com, he had a new book come out two days ago called Wrecked and this is a guy that started from scratch about two years ago and his book got up to I think it was No. 28 on Amazon last night because he’s got a really engaged, really loyal following and most importantly he’s connected with a lot of bloggers that would go out on his behalf and advocate for him. So like I had a post about him, his new book yesterday and there were a lot of people out there – Chris Guillebeau and a lot of people. I just think it really is more about how engaged they are than the sheer volume.
JT: Okay, I love that too. To let everybody know, that’s sort of what I’m doing behind the scenes. I have lots of friends that have lots of bigger followings than me – Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income – I just spoke at Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit. So I am really working on trying to talk to people that sort of already my friends. I don’t like going and approaching random people, but people that are already my friends and asking about possibly having reviews and stuff like that. Is there anything else I can do? You’re the man; you can give me advice right here on this podcast. What do you suggest?
MH: I would say one of the key things and you’re already doing this, Jaime, but is to be generous. That’s really the strategy that works today and particularly with other bloggers, you’re talking about Pat or Chris or any of those guys – the more you can help them and not to give to get but to be genuinely generous and to be helpful to them, there is this kind of ecosystem online that makes that work for everybody. I would just say that. Be generous, keep putting out great content that other people find valuable.
Keep asking yourself how can I add even more value? For example, yesterday we were planning out with some of my team the new platform conference which we are going to launch in February 2013; really excited about it. So we just kept asking ourselves – what’s going to be the wow? Where is the wow in this? How can we take it to the next level? So we’re talking even about the conference notebooks that people are going to get. How can we make sure that people walk away with a platform business plan? How can we construct it as we go through the conference so they have a wow at the end of it and a real takeaway? So it’s thinking consciously how can I add value? How can I add more value and just keep tweaking it up.
JT: This is what I love about you too, because you’re inspirational. You tell inspirational stories and you talk a lot about productivity and some amazing stuff, but then you’re also really concrete and action oriented and that’s sort of what we need, right. We need the inspiration because we need to be excited about it but then we need to know exactly what to do and then we need more inspiration to keep doing that stuff. So I think that’s awesome. It is.
MH: I need both of those in my own life. There are people I listen to everyone for inspiration and, by the way, this is a huge tip I think. If you want to produce remarkable content, you’ve got to soak in remarkable content, because that raises your standard. The only difference, I learned this from Tony Robbins, but the only difference between you and me and some guy that’s like a bazillionaire that’s really great at what he does is standards. People that perform at high levels have unbelievable standards.
People that perform at high levels have unbelievable standards and we perform at the level we do, because we’ve got a low standard. So, if we can raise the standard, we can perform at a higher level and that’s why I like to expose myself to books, podcasts, recorded books, anything I can to really expose myself to remarkable content, because it does rub off.
JT: So tell us. Now that bodes the question, right, what are some things that you’re listening to/reading that are really remarkable?
MH: I’m listening to this incredible book right now. I wrote a post on stillness. What I was learning about – silence and solitude. Listen, I’m an activator. I’m very busy. I’m an achiever. I got to the place with the release of my latest book that there was no margin in my life, space for silence or for just being still. So I decided I was going to recover that on my vacation and so I started spending some time every morning doing that and somebody recommended this book to me called Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Barton and it’s really kind of rocking my world. It’s really good.
JT: Let’s get into that now. Before I get into that, I want to ask are there any other books that, you know, really, really great remarkable content since you’re here, you’re the guy that knows some of this stuff and then I want to go back and ask you about that.
MH: I do read a lot of books about online marketing stuff and a lot of podcasts that I listen to, like you mentioned Pat Flynn. I love listening to Pat’s podcast. I listen to Cliff Ravenscraft who is the…
JT: Love Cliff.
MH: By the way, one of the reasons I listen to Cliff is not just for the technical expertise but for the inspiration. He’s so inspiration. Those guys, of course, Seth Godin, anything I can read by him. Steven Pressfield is an absolutely must read and I don’t know how many copies I’ve given away of the War of Art, but his whole discussion about the resistance, are you familiar with that book?
JT: Yes, it’s one of the recommended books by millionaires. I have a big list and that has definitely been recommended quite a few times.
MH: Fabulous book and his new one on turning pro.
JT: Yes, I haven’t read that yet, but I need to.
MH: It’s good too. I really enjoy his writing.
JT: Nice. So let’s talk about this solitude thing, because I think this is really important. You talk a lot about productivity and actually I loved what you did for your podcast on how to get 10 extra hours a week. I only work 20 hours a week so I was like listening to that like please help me get more time. It was really great. I highly recommend anyone listening to it. But what do you think silence really has to do with being more productive or having a better life?
MH: I think it’s like this and Ruth Barton describes this in her book, but most of us are kind of like a jar of lake water that’s all shook up and it’s all full of sediment and dirt and it’s just cloudy and we don’t have clarity. Clarity is one of the most important things that all of us need in order to get forward momentum. So when you sit still it’s just the law of gravity. In this case, it’s a law of spiritual gravity. The dirt just kind of falls down to the bottom and the water becomes clear and for the first time maybe in a long time we can see with a clarity that we’ve never had.
So I think if we’re really going to be productive and most importantly if we’re going to accomplish the things that matter the most, we’ve got to get that clarity that begins in stillness. So I am just doing that every morning and I’ve got a timer that I set for 15 minutes and I’m just quiet. I don’t try to think about what I am going to do today. I just try to be present, be in the moment, experience it and just kind of soak it up. It’s not that easy. It sounds easy – 15 minutes – but it is like the most important thing I do to be productive.
JT: I love that. I love that you said 15 minutes. I have two small children and so time is sort of the essence and I think and I only do 15 minutes, that’s all I can squeeze out usually. I meditate and stuff like that, but 15 minutes is like the max. Sometimes my timer is set for 10 or 5, but I think that’s really huge to be able to just have some form of time because you’re a busy guy.
MH: Well I am and I tell you what. I can get really busy on the wrong things if I’m not careful. Business can become an addiction. In other words, if you’re not being busy and productive, somehow your self-worth or your value is affected. I want to separate who I am as a person from what I do as a professional. I want to not be just a human doing but I want to be a human being and that begins in stillness.
JT: I absolutely love that. I think we’re all caught up. I’m the same thing. High achiever, try and do as much as I possibly can and being able to look back and go it’s not about that I’ve been on CNN and blah, blah, blah. Those are just things. That doesn’t have anything to do with the type of person that I am and I think that’s actually what was great about the World Domination Summit and this is probably what you’re going to sort of start to bring into your conference is we met with people, people that were doing amazing things. It didn’t matter whether they were huge and really popular or if they weren’t, but they were just some amazing people to be around and being in that environment just helps us immeasurably anyway.
MH: It does and I think by exposing yourself to that and I really believe in going to conferences too though I didn’t go to that one.
JT: Next year, right?
MH: It’s just a way to stimulate your thinking and your own growth and I did another post this week and I was quoting, I think I quoted some psychologist. But the whole idea is that growth equals happiness. For most of us, if we’re not growing, if we’re not developing as individuals, we’re not happy. So there has got to be some sense of progress in our life. Again, that can begin in stillness but then, from there, of course, I read and try to do some other things that develop my own soul so that I have something to give. You can’t give out of an empty bucket.
JT: I love that. When I was growing up, my motto was always progress. Like even when I was younger, because I wanted, my sort of story is I wanted to be a millionaire when I was little and I went about it the wrong way. I got a corporate job, made great money, thought I was really cool, hated it, ended up gaining a bunch of weight traveling, getting an expense account, all that fun stuff and realizing that it wasn’t about the money because I was so focused on the drive to be a millionaire or whatever it was.
But it is about progress. It’s not about progress towards some financial end goal or some success. But I personally think it’s about growing as a person. That’s what I really wanted but I thought it was the money and I think that’s really key to make sure everybody knows that that it’s not necessarily about being a best-selling author though I’m sure you love that, right? That’s very nice.
MH: I love that, yes. But you’re right. And there’s a sense in which you pursue those. When you pursue those things as ends in themselves as opposed to sort of sign posts or mile markers along the way, that it kind of has a destructive impact on your life. Some of the most unhappy people I’ve ever met and I’ve worked with I don’t know hundreds of best-selling authors but some of them are very unhappy because they got what they aspired to and then they wondered what’s next.
They didn’t really have anything beyond that end game. If that’s a mile marker on the way but your journey is about something bigger, then you can really enjoy that and celebrate it when it happens but not get stuck in it. That’s what I want to do. I want to keep moving towards this bigger thing that I’m pursuing.
JT: I love that; so inspirational. Awesome. I know we don’t have too much more time so I want to wrap up with the last question that I ask every single guest. But what’s one action that listeners can take this week to help move them forward towards their goal of a million?
MH: There is something that every entrepreneur, everybody who decides to be a millionaire has in their heart that they’ve been tweaking, they’ve been adjusting, they’ve been working on for months. I’m going to tell you it’s time to launch. Ship it. It may not be perfect enough and I’m all about the wow, but there comes a point where you just got to get it out the door. In fact, I heard the funniest thing yesterday. Somebody wrote a post in response to me talking about that and it was called “Don’t Worry Be Crappy.”
I was advocating something less, but just get it out the door. Introduce it to the environment. You can tweak as you go. You’ll get response from the people that you’re trying to sell your products to, to people you’re trying to convince to your cause, whatever it is, start. Enough fiddling already; get it out there, the world needs it.
JT: Thank you so much. That’s awesome. Tell us where we can find you online. I mean I already know, I’ll definitely link it up, but where we can find you on Facebook, Twitter and your blog.
MH: You can find me at MichaelHyatt.com and everything is there. Also @MichaelHyatt and Hyatt with a “Y” on Twitter and my podcast is called “This is Your Life.” You can find that on iTunes or there is a link on my blog too.
JT: I’m a subscriber to that and I highly recommend it. I don’t care whether or not you think parts suck or don’t suck, I absolutely love it and I think everybody should download it too. It has been really, I mean it’s one of the ones where I can go I know I am going to get something really good out of this one. Just like Pat’s, you know, and I only have so much time so being able to go I know I am going to get what I need out of this one based on the title I think is awesome. Thank you so much for coming on. Everybody check out Michael Hyatt. He is awesome. Take care and have a great day.
MH: Thanks so much. Great to be with you.
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