Darren: Hey there, welcome to episode 258 of the ProBlogger podcast, my name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com. A blog, a podcast, events, job boards, and eBooks and courses, all designed to help you to build a great blog to build profit around that blog as well. Now, today is the third in the series of our blogging breakthrough series of content where we’re featuring stories of listeners of this podcast who’ve had breakthroughs in their own blogging, whether they be breakthroughs around traffic, income, mindset, building community, or other opportunities have come their way.
This is the third in the series and we’ve had some really great feedback from previous ones. So, if you haven’t listened to those, do dig back after this one to episode 256 and 257 and you’ll hear those.
Now, today’s story is actually from Tom Lodziak who has a blog called Table Tennis Coaching. There’s a URL in today’s show notes, which you can find it, if you want to check it out and I love this story because it’s a story of someone who started with absolutely nothing but a dream.
He had no income coming in from another source, no audience, no real profile that he can build on and he started incompletely the wrong way, as he puts it, but he gets to a point with his blogging where he’s able to reach his dream of quitting his job to pursue his passion of table tennis coaching.
You’re going to love this story, it’s got some really practical tips but very relatable as well. Certainly, there’s a few things that I want to pull out at the end this episode just to emphasize to give you some encouragement as well.
Lastly, before we get into Tom’s story, I do want to mention your last chance to get discounted tickets for our Success Incubator event, which is happening in Orlando, Florida, pretty much this time next month, on the 24th and 25th of September in Orlando, Florida. Success Incubator is the event.
If you go to the problogger.com/success, you’ll find details of the event and if you use the word ProBlogger in the check out, you’ll get a 25% discount on attending that event. The event is a Mastermind style event that would be half a day of teaching from other masterminders, which is kind of cool.
Last year we had some amazing content presented and then there’ll be quite a bit of mastermind time, where you’ll be sitting with a group of other people or in similar boats to you in their online business and someone who’s got some expertise to share as well.
Last year we had some amazing breakthroughs as a result of that Success Incubator event. Quite a few of the people who came last year are actually coming back. We’ve still got a few tickets left though. If you do want to grab those, check out problogger.com/success for all the details and don’t forget that code ProBlogger in the checkout cart on event part and it will give you give that 25% off but that’s only valuable to the end of August so don’t delay.
Today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/258 where there will be a full transcript of today’s show and some links to our event as well and to Tom’s blog. So, he is Tom Lodziak from Table Tennis Coaching.
Tom: Hi I’m Tom Lodziak from Cambridge in UK. I’m a table tennis coach, blogger and YouTuber. You can find my website at tabletenniscoach.me.uk. I started blogging in 2015 and my blog is all about the wonderful sport of table tennis.
Now, I started in completely the wrong way. I was working full-time for an education company. One toddler and a new baby back at home but in the evenings and weekends I would coach table tennis for some extra income and I really love doing table tennis coaching. I would wanted to do this full-time but I just couldn’t see a way of making a switch from a stable decently paid job to coaching table tennis as a living.
It’s not a particularly reliable or well-paid career, so I started to look at ways I could earn extra income online. My first idea was create an online course where I taught the beginners how to play table tennis. I was convinced that this was going to be success and I spent ages doing it.
I wrote all my scripts, I bought camera equipment, did lots of filming then I bought the best camera equipment, re-filmed the footage, I learned how to edit the videos then I re-edited the videos to make them better and after few months I had my online course, Table Tennis For Beginners, and I launched it on Udemy. I clicked the publish the button and I waited for the money to roll in and in the first six months, I earned and you better hold on to your seats for this, I earned precisely zero, nothing, not a single pound, ouch, and of course, the main I earned nothing was because I had no audience, I had no one to promote the course to.
Just launching the course on Udemy wasn’t going to generate an income so I had to build an audience and this is when I started to blog. I thought the best for me to grow an audience was to write articles about table tennis—useful tips about how to improve, and stories for my own coaching and playing experience.
The idea being that, if I could grow an audience, more people would visit my website, more people would find out about my course, and hopefully some people would sign up. So, I started writing a weekly blog post. Probably around 500 to 1000 words for each blog post and at first my audience size was tiny, 300 to 500 visits per month and certainly those early days it did feel as though at times I was blogging to no one but any small increases in traffic I did get gave me encouragement to keep going. After about six months of blogging, my traffic had increased to around about a thousand visits per month but I was still not earning any online income.
At this stage, I pretty much gave up in the idea of earning an income through online courses. I teach plans for more courses and I started to look any other ways to earn an income online. I read an article about Amazon associates and how you can link through to put up an Amazon and get a commission on anything which is purchased. I thought, “Okay, let’s give that a try, got nothing to lose, let see if this works.”
I wrote an article with advice on buying a table tennis bat and I’ve got a few recommendations on which best to buy linking to products I was familiar with on Amazon and within few days this article had earned a few pounds, breakthrough, my first online earnings and it was interesting because this article had taken a couple of hours to write and it had earned me more money that the online course which has taken six months to produce. Looking back is ridiculous—how excited I got about earning a few pounds but it gave me big motivation to keep going.
Over the next few months I kept blogging, kept growing my audience, and my income from this article continue to grow. It was still only pocket money but I could see the potential. If this one article could earn me income and my audience is pretty small, imagine how much I could earn if I did lots of articles with Amazon links and my audience size was much larger.
This small breakthrough let me to take blogging much seriously. I came across the ProBlogger website at this stage and I raided the archives, I read everything, learning from all of Darren’s successes and his failures and I learned a lot from Darren.
The most important thing I learned and the thing which has worked most for me is focusing on creating good quality content. Good quality content which helps my audience in some way. Over the next three years, I wrote a lot of articles about all aspects of table tennis every week, a new blog post, 500 to 1000 words something to do with the table tennis – 90% of these articles, articles which just give helpful tips and advice about playing table tennis. I don’t earn anything from these articles and I don’t try to, these are articles which help me build an audience which helps to develop my authority and trust with my audience and help send more traffic to my website, and around 10% of my content is articles about table tennis equipment, about table tennis bats, balls, and tables –and these silly articles where I link to Amazon in which earned me an income but even with these articles, the focus is much more giving helpful information and pushing people to buy, buy, buy.
Now, fast forward three years and I have a lot more traffic, I get 25,000 visits per month and most of the traffic is from Google and I haven’t use any special SEO tricks here, I just focused on creating good quality content. We’ve done a little bit of link building but honestly not that much. I take the approach that if content course is good, people will link to it anyway and Google loves good quality content, which answers people’s questions and which comes from an authority. So, this has been the approach I’ve taken.
As my traffic has increased a lot so has my earnings from Amazon, I’ve gotten from 50 pounds per month three years ago to four figures per month and today. It’s a low four figures but for me it’s a significant amount.
I’ve also set up a successful YouTube channel which earns me a small income and guess what—I also earn some money from the online course I set up four years ago.
It’s not huge amount but nice to get some reward for all that hard work I initially put in. Now, putting all of these income schemes together, it was enough that I could quit my day job and focus full-time on table tennis coaching, blogging and making videos.
There’s a whole of tips I could share, I’ve already mentioned about focusing on creating great content. I really believe this is a great approach to take.
I mean if you create a great content, you’ll be able to increase your traffic and grow a loyal audience and when you have traffic and you have an audience, you have many more options to generate an income online and don’t afraid to try things and get things wrong and have failures. I’ve experimented with various income streams. Much of the stuff I’ve tried hasn’t really worked but a few things, Amazon, YouTube, and a couple of affiliate schemes have worked. If I’ve never experimented and failed with the online course in the first place I would have never started blogging and I would never have discovered about earning an income through Amazon.
The irony is that the original online course actually wasn’t out and out failure. I just got the timing wrong. I should have built my audience first but now I have a good audience size and doing a new online course makes much more sense.
So, at the moment, I’m actually working on a new course which would hopefully being much more successful as I have a bigger audience to promote to but the main tip I want to give is very simple, this is persevere, be persistent, just keep going.
I see many people put a lot of effort early on with blogging and then they gave up as they don’t get the traffic or earnings they were hoping for but it is tough to begin with, it does take time to get decent traffic and earnings. You just have to keep going and going and going. It’s a bit like playing the table tennis, it’s not easy to begin with and the best places aren’t blessed with mysterious natural talent. They’re the place who just keep turning out, keep practicing, keep trying to improved, this is how they get good at table tennis same with blogging. If you put the effort in over a sustained period of time, you’ll have much more chance of achieving success.
And the final thought for me, my audience size and my online income is tiny compared to other bloggers but that’s not really the point. I wanted to quit my job and work for myself as a table tennis coach, a blogger, a YouTuber and setting up my blog and writing a new post each week is help me to do this and if I can do it in a niche like table tennis then I guess you can do in any niche you want to.
Thank you very much for listening and thank you to Darren for sharing all your brilliant tips on the ProBlogger website.
Darren: Thanks so much to Tom Lodziak for sharing his story today. You can check out his blog at tabletenniscoach.me.uk. His blog is table tennis coaching. I love this story, as I said at the top of the show. It really tracks a very similar story to many bloggers, who do start out with nothing, I mean we all started with no audience really. Some of us do have the advantage of starting with a bit of a profile in an industry but I was just like Tom when I started out.
No one knew my blog, apart for my friends and family who I shot an email out to, that turned out not to really help that much, not many of them ended up reading in the long-term. So, we all started out in that place and we all kind of feel our kind of feel our way through it. I love that line in his story. –” At times I felt like I was blogging to no one.” That’s certainly something I relate to, pretty much every time I started the blog, even when I have started with the a little bit of profile, it does feel like that. Sometimes you reach these plateaus no one is commenting, no one is emailing you, you don’t really know if anyone’s reading at all.
I love the tips that Tom shared, number one tip there, focus on great content, really that is what is all about. It seems I haven’t actually dug too much deeper, a couple of times, he mentioned, he was just writing one article week and I think that’s just brilliant. You can sustain it, as long as it’s useful content that can be enough. Going full-time later on, you might want to increase that a little bit but a week is great because people get to know your rhythm.
I love that he focused on—90% of his posts where about just writing content that was going to serve his audience and about 10% of them were income-generating posts, but he still mentioned that even those posts where about serving the audience, I think that’s a really great mix.
So, I do see some bloggers particularly with the affiliate marketing side of things that every post seems to be just about trying to get people to their links. You must understand why you might do that. It comes across a bit of sale every single time, and so just sprinkle your content from time to time with those types of affiliate links, I think is a wise move as well.
Tom talked about experimenting with content and income strains. Some of the income strains won’t work at all ever for you but some will work later on, you may be too soon. One thing I would advise if you are thinking of starting with creating a product of your own, it’s okay to have a product, ready to go when you launched your blog. I think that’s actually smart in some levels, so as your traffic grows you’ve got something to sell but make sure that first product isn’t something you overinvest in and that’s a sense I got from Tom is that it took a lot of time and energy and effort to that course together and maybe he could have come up with a different type of products in those early days maybe a short eBook.
I’m really grateful that my first product of my own was a very simple eBook, it was a repurposed content from my blog. It didn’t really take so much work to get it together. It did take me awhile to get it together because I was busy and it was also content in and my readers work for me and so, it was more natural product for them as well. Of course, I did have some readers by the time I had it developed.
Start with something smaller, test waters with those smaller types of products, and then later on you can invest more. Once you’ve got the proof of concept and an audience of course as well.
The other beauty of waiting to build those bigger course s is that you can base the content in the course upon the questions your audience ask. Having that audience certainly can help you to develop a product that is actually going to serve them better. You’re not guessing quite so much in the early days.
The other thing I’d advice of course, if you are creating a product, this affiliate marketing can be a great way to test what people are interested in as well.
Now, in a niche like table tennis coaching, I’m sure how many eBooks or courses there would be out there but if there are courses out there, you might be able to test with the people interested in that format of product but also the topic as well.
I love his last tip there about persisting as well and the idea that it takes practice, great analogy from table tennis. As someone who plays table tennis from time to time, my brother actually runs a charity that’s all about table tennis. He raises money and people doing a Ping-Pong-Athon, which I’m actually incidentally doing, I wasn’t going to promote it here but if you want to sponsor me for that, check out the show notes. There is a way to sponsor me for my Ping-Pong-Athon to raise some money for people caught up being in slavery, in some horrible situations.
If you want to check that out, I will include a link the show notes to day, but as someone who does play table tennis from time to time, once a year, I know that I’m not as good as I could be because I just don’t practice. I only play that once a year and as a result I don’t improve. The same is certainly true with blogging—the more you do it, the better you get, not only in you writing but also in how you connect with your audience, that takes time. It takes time to understand who is reading your blog as well.
It takes a practice to respond comments to engage in a deeper way. It takes time to learn all the different skills whether it be social media, creating graphics, designing a blog, all of these things take time. So, I do encourage you to put aside regular time to do that as Tom does as well.
I encourage you to hit over to Tom’s blog if you are interested in that topic tabletenniscoach.me.uk, there will be a link in today’s show notes as well. Check him out, support him, leave a comment on the show notes as well and let him know what you think as well.
Check out Success Incubator, as I said at the top of the show, There’s that 25% off discount and if you want support me in my Ping-Pong-Athon endeavors coming up, check out the show notes as well. I’m trying to raise a couple of thousand dollars and go to an amazing course and you can check out more of that later on as well. Thanks for listening today and I’ll chat with you next week with another blogger breakthrough story.
Thanks for listening today, chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.