Yaro Starak Interview
Tell us a bit about you Yaro: how did it all start with the Entrepreneurs-Journey.com – from the birth of the idea, its branding, and its development?
Entrepreneurs-Journey.com is my blog which started in 2005. Now, you have to understand that in 2005 the blogosphere was brand new. There were very few blogs even fewer people who were making money from blogging, and to put into context, I had been and still was an online entrepreneur at the time, but nothing to do with blogging. I had run and was still running and editing company – it was an essay editing company for students; prior to that I had a card game e-commerce store, I had some other projects on and off line English school, lots of websites that failed as well, so I had spent the previous seven years being an entrepreneur and then blogging came about and for me it was initially just an experiment. I didn’t really have the awareness like we do today that blogs can become these businesses, so for me it was just “let’s start a blog”. I wanted to talk about being an entrepreneur in particular, I wanted to write about the experiences I’ve had and I was continuing to have with my editing company and with my card game business before that and all the thoughts I was thinking and all the developments that were going on in the world of online entrepreneurship, so the blog was started purely as a place for me to tell these stories to potentially grow an audience. I certainly didn’t see it becoming a business like it has been for the last 12 years, but it was a place to experiment with writing, with storytelling and eventually with podcasting (six months later I started podcast under the same brand). In terms of the brand itself and my ideas with what it could become – I really had nothing. This sounds crazy nowadays 🙂 but it was such an basic amateur project for me. I built the website myself, I came up with the logo myself, I took a terrible photo of myself and stuck it on there – it was the ‘Yaro show’ for a long time before I actually hired help and got a bit more professional with the branding in the presentation. But as I said, it was early days of blogging so you could get away with that and still grow an audience. I really focused mostly on the content – the writing, for me, was the most important thing so I was writing five days a week then to just share ideas. I really was putting everything into this brand new blog.
Has your life much changed now, when you’re an entrepreneur? How exactly looks like a regular day in your life?
Well as I said I’ve had some kind of business for over two decades now, so I’ve only really known the entrepreneur life as an adult. Since I was a teenager when I started this, I can’t really compare it to anything else because I never had a full time job…But what I can certainly say is that my life changed as my businesses changed. Running my editing company is different to being a blogger or a podcaster or a teacher, but the one consistent thing for me was always looking to grow a business that would fuel lifestyle first. I wanted to create the kind of business that allowed me to travel, that allowed me to wake up late, to be able to cook breakfast and lunch and dinner at home or go out if I wanted to go out, to exercise when I feel like, see friends when I feel like and just watch a whole series of a television show for one whole day 🙂
Creating content was all about flexibility and having the power to do what I like, so that meant I needed money, that meant I need a business that gave me time freedom and if I wanted to travel I needed a business that could that could come with me, so that’s what I was working towards with all of those businesses and very much so today with blogging.
It’s very much a business that I travel with! Like right now, I’m talking to you from Ukraine, before that I was in France, etc. and if we compare this life today versus my prior life (school) I certainly didn’t see this being what I would eventually do for a living because blogging and writing weren’t on my radar at all until I hit 25 years old. Though I was driving towards this kind of freedom, it’s been a big change 🙂
What’s your favorite misconception that people tend to have about entrepreneurship in general?
If you’re looking at people who have never run a business, there’s this attitude that entrepreneurship is made up of people who are extremely wealthy, extremely successful. You could say like the ‘Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs’ is very much projected as the standard – the ‘tech celebrities’ like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, so that’s kind of become what we as a mainstream society see as entrepreneurs. But really, most entrepreneurs we’re talking about here belong to a greater majority – they are just people running small business working hard every day! Most of them are working in a retail or running some sort of physical business, but in terms of online entrepreneurship I can tell you a lot! We all (my tribe, the people I coach who are similar to me) are sitting behind computers either at home or in cafes producing content, podcasting, creating videos, working really hard because there’s a lot of work to do to build momentum, to get traffic, so it’s very much an ‘all in all the time’ kind of job!
I obviously go out there and talk about how much freedom entrepreneurship can bring you, but the truth is to get to the point where you have the freedom you have to work really hard! You have to be a content production machine, you have to really be on the ball every single day including weekends, night time, you have to really hustle to start building your audience and then once you start getting some audience you have an email list, you have products, you can set up systems and things get easier so you certainly can do what I do eventually and have a much more sort of relaxed and open to freedom choice and not working so hard when once you’ve built something. But most people are still on the path to build something, so it’s an ongoing process.
You define yourself as an entrepreneur and a blogger. We know that online entrepreneurship is 24/7 job for some people, but when it comes to blogging – how much time do you actually spend blogging these days, comparing it with the time you used to spend before?
Great question! Well it really has changed dramatically…I’d say I probably blog about 10% of the amount of time I did when I first started blogging. At first two years I was writing something almost every single day whether it was for my blog or for my newsletter or for a product in the second year. But most of the first year was just one blog post every single day five days a week. Today I publish once a week usually and that’s either a blog post or a podcast and I definitely have a different philosophy around content marketing – it’s more about quality than volume; I’d rather produce a really in-depth 2000-3000 word blog post once a week then write say 300-700 word articles and publish once a day but have a really short content.
Now it’s important to distinguish that my blog is not a magazine-style blog, so if you look at magazines style blogs they’re covering a lot of news and they often have a team of writers team of journalists, and their job is just always be updated with lots of content whatever’s fresh, but the content very quickly loses its value because it gets old within 24 hrs.
What I try and do is the opposite of that, which is far less content, but when I produce something that gots a long term value – it’s got what I call a piece of pillar content or a pillar post and that’s designed to have long term value; it’s a standalone piece of content and it can be reused. That means I could share it in the future and it will still have the value, and I’d rather do that – I’d rather produce 50 pieces of pillar content per year one a week then try and produce 50 pieces of content per month and have them all have little value.
From your experience – what are the biggest mistakes that bloggers usually make while blogging?
Well one of the biggest mistakes I see today is really the one-sided mentality that a lot of people have with marketing – in the sense that bloggers do not see themselves as also being marketers, especially if the person is coming from a background that has nothing to do with business. To explain better: if the bloggers got something like a topic to do with health or food or maybe nothing to do with money or with business basically and they’re not used to the idea of going out there and having to market themselves, to push their work out into the world, they’re not sales people. So there’s a big challenge for those kind of people to every single day go out there and promote themselves, build relationships, ask for guest posts, ask to be interviewed on a podcast or your blog, etc. This sort of daily promotion requires a different mindset that a lot of people don’t have and you have to learn that you have to become that kind of person.
I remember when I was reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography, he talked about how he was so surprised and thought it was ridiculous that artists (painters, musicians, writers or an actors, any kind of person who was performing creatively) don’t see themselves as marketers; they kind of expected to become famous just because of their work, where Arnold would say “nothing I did worked because of just the work; what I did worked because I went out there and I marketed as well”, So when he was a famous bodybuilder he didn’t become a famous bodybuilder just by chance – he had to be a great bodybuilder, but he also had to be a great marketer and promote the art of bodybuilding; to get out there and do press tours do interviews, create a whole documentary to try and grow the sport of bodybuilding. Then when he became a movie star it was the same thing – he had to make a great movie and then had to go out there and make sure everyone knew about it; have to market the movie, have to do a press tour, have to travel the world and talk about his movie, etc. to do all this promotion to make sure people go and see his movie. Of course when he got into politics it was the same thing, yet to promote his policies he had to go out there and say what he stood for, to get on press coverage, appear in magazines and newspapers, on blogs, podcasts and T.V. always to share the message.
We as bloggers also have to do that – we have to do our job well, which is produce content that helps people and go up there and market the content and that for me is by far the biggest lesson I have to really push all of my students to do because they’re not always natural marketers 🙂
Are there any other projects that you are proud of (or currently involved with) and why?
Right now as we talk almost everything I’m doing is regarding my teaching business. I have a range of teaching products – I have a membership site called the Laptop Lifestyle Academy, I have my main flagship course called Blog Mastermind, so I spend a lot of my personal time coaching people in those two programs. I do live webinars for people I interact in a forum and on a Slack chat – that’s what most of my time is focused on right now. I am 100% of blogger and teacher right now and I love it!
In the past, I have had multiple projects going at once, but I certainly learned the importance of having focus and really sticking with what’s working and growing it as far as you can take it. It’s always easier to grow something that’s already working out 🙂
So if you’re interested in learning how to use blogging as a way to grow your business to build your audience, to gain more customers, to grow your email list, you should go gaze up a copy of my Blog Profits Blueprint.
Do you have any words of wisdom for young online entrepreneurs around the globe?
When I was young and I was just getting started as an entrepreneur, I had this idea about business – I thought business was all about coming up with a great idea for a product and then it would just take off. I didn’t think about all the other things that are important to being an entrepreneur…I really thought it was all about product and that was it! I learned over the years that it’s not just about what you sell, it’s about your mindset and being strong when things aren’t going well! It’s about becoming a marketer and learning how to be good at promoting, good or building relationships. It’s also about becoming a good content producer – you really can’t be a marketer today without also being some kind of content producer, because to market you have to either be writing or talking or creating video, so you have to do some kind of content creation.
My most important advice is to develop all those skills and if you’re a young entrepreneur, it’s not just about what you’re going to sell – it’s about your ability to work even when things are going very well. It’s your attitude, your ability to pivot and change when things aren’t going very well and it’s about acquiring those marketing skills, those relationship building skills.
I really didn’t focus much on those things early on and I really wish I did 🙂 because I think I would have got quicker results for sure! I spent seven years struggling, so I wouldn’t want other people to take that long and you could certainly get results faster than I did if you focus on a few different things compared to what I did not.
Let’s wrap up with a little bit of fun – if you could get a guest post from anyone, living, dead, or mythological, who would you tap for it?
That is a fun question! It’s funny, but when I read that question the first person that jumped into my head was actually Albert Einstein! I have no idea what he would write about 🙂 but I do love the way he thought about things and his ability to come up with thought experiments that would actually turn into scientific breakthroughs. So I think it would be interesting to have Albert Einstein write something about. But even about business – I run an entrepreneurship blog, so would be interesting to see what Albert Einstein would say about entrepreneurs and running business, cause he certainly had an entrepreneurial aspect to what he did and he became a great marketer because he was the most famous scientist ever, so it would be interesting to hear what he had to say about business and marketing!
Photos ©: Entrepreneurs-Journey.com