Well, this is a first for my blog. I thought is was about time to interview somebody, interviews can be a great way to gain some knowledge for yourself and also get the interviewee some exposure. I have been interviewed a few times online (both on camera and off) and I have seen benefits from each one I have done.
In fact, the interview model is a great one if you are thinking of starting a blog or website. Why not set up regular interviews and post them weekly? You would get a great deal of interest, that much i do know.
Anyway, for my first interview I did not just want to interview anybody – this is a guy who I have great respect for, both in what he stands for a what he does. As a blogger and writer from the UK, he is really up there with the best. I stand by this – because, whilst he may not have really had his “break” yet he can literally apply his trade in any niche. The man can seem to put his pen to paper quite brilliantly on any topic.
One last point before I hand over to Andi – we met through our blogs. This is another reason why you must get out and mix with other bloggers in your niche. Its these contacts which could take you on endeavors that you never thought of before. Andi and I are now working together on a huge project that would not have happened if we did not comment and interact on each others blogs.
So – I will stop rambling now and hand you over to the exact same questions posed to me on his blog, Andi Leeman:
Please tell us a little bit about yourself, name, age and hobbies etc.
Hi my name is Andi Leeman, I am 39 at time of writing, will be hitting 40 this December (Aggrrrrr)
My hobbies are music, listening to and making music even though it has been a while since I made anything new. It is all mainly electronic music like Techno, House, DnB, Acid and Hardcore.
I enjoy art especially graphic design and graffiti art, I enjoy messing around with software like paint.net creating images for my blog posts.
I love writing and generally write motivational, factual, spiritual and also fictional pieces. Currently writing two books but they rarely get time spent on them. One of them is a fictional story where ‘Human Traffic’ meets ‘Star Trek’ and that is all I am prepared to say at this time.
As well as writing I do a fair bit of reading, as well as all of the blog posts I read I like to read books on metaphysics, spirituality and Buddhism. I recently read Positively Happy by Noel Edmonds, not exactly the Dalai Lama but still a great book.
What is it that you do?
I am a writer, blogger and the main content creator for the Tim’s Minions website for its owner Tim Lowe the well-known UK direct mail marketer. I create video tutorials, articles, eBooks and reports etc for the site as well as manage the social media side of the business.
I also write for other people and I am a member of a very exciting new project that I believe has a fantastic future. It will help a lot of people and businesses get online and utilise the best the internet can offer them in the way of branding, traffic and exposure. I am really looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.
How and when did you start?
Before I went to work for Tim I was working as a carpenter and joiner. I had been in the building trade for roughly 20 years. In 2009 I started an art and T Shirt printing business with my better half Viki selling T Shirts & paintings on eBay and from our shop premises while still working in the building trade. It was during this time I started to learn all things WordPress, blogging and about using the internet to make money.
I landed the job working for Tim when I received an email saying they were looking for another writer. I was on his email list at the time and it was completely different to what I was doing but I thought why not? What have I got to lose? I applied, beat several hundred applicants to get the job and moved 200 miles to work in the offices.
I came up with the idea of Tim’s Minions because Tim is a huge fan of the film Despicable Me and often jokingly referred to us as his Minions. I was at that time testing out social media marketing techniques and traffic generation methods and I thought it would be great to start a blog similar to Pat Flynn’s SmartPassiveIncome teaching about online marketing, social media and all online related stuff but using the Minion’s as our unique angle.
Tim loved the idea and he loved the humour behind the project and that it also added a human face and feel to his business. The blog was started in January 2012 and has been growing nicely. It has had to face the usual ups and downs thanks to Google doing everything they can to rid the web of organic traffic and send webmasters/business owners running to their AdWords network. We are planning for the future and sending the site down another ‘we can do without you Google’ route.
What motivated you to do what you are doing now?
My motivation at first was to get out of the building trade and escape dark dirty noisy workshops and cold wet building sites. It can be miserable working outdoors in winter when the snow is falling and you are fitting windows or roofs to a building shell.
Life is wonderful and we live on a beautiful planet with a lot of wonderful people, I want to travel, to experience and see new things and meet new people. You cannot do that very well when you are working 48 weeks of the year to earn enough money just to pay for living costs.
Ideally I wanted to either find a way to generate money passively or from a series of skills that I can take anywhere in the world. As a writer and content creator I can now do both. I can get paid to write articles and create content for other people as well as myself.
What is about what you do that you love?
I love the fact that I can now work from anywhere in the world and get paid for it while also being able to work listening to great music on Soundcloud and Mixcloud. I value freedom and flexibility more than wealth but I understand that in today’s society freedom and flexibility often is dependent on the wealth you have.
I have now taken the move to being self-employed and I have moved back up north from Surrey to my home town in Lincolnshire where I work from my home which is great, I love it. This is a temporary stay while we wrap a few things up for our eventual move over to Spain (Balearic Islands would be nice!:-)). Writing while sitting on a veranda or roof top terrace in the sun overlooking the sea would be great!
I am still the chief content creator for Tim’s Minions while working on other projects in the evening. It seems never ending but the more you do the better your results will be and the future results are determined by what we do in the here and now.
What is it that you want to achieve and where do you want to be in the next 10 years?
I want to be completely financially free and living in a relaxed stress free environment abroad. I love the UK and I am a proud Englishman but it has become a bit mad and hectic here.
I want to live in a place where it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, the long term plan is to run a chilled holistic retreat with Viki while still finding time to write books and run websites.
I intend to have a few books published in the fiction and spirituality genres and also be back making music as a hobby. In ten years’ time I WILL be living a life of complete freedom and choice with travel being a huge part of it. When I decide I want to pop off somewhere then I want to be in the position where I can and will. I think it is safe to say that freedom is the thing I value most. I recently read an excellent saying by Seth Godin…
‘Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.’
Of all the things that you do online what would you say is the most important thing for your business?
Connections, sounds lame I guess but connections with real people can do a lot and I mean a lot of good. Without connections you can be on an uphill struggle, as I write this I am chatting to Matt Smith about resizing header images to be more responsive on mobile phones and tablets. These connections make things run smoother and often faster.
What is your greatest success so far online?
What is my greatest success? Well I probably should say that I sell products most weeks via email and that I have an average email open rate of 20% which is apparently excellent in the industry and that I write converting reviews which have added new clients and customers into Tim’s business but in truth my greatest success is the amount of new skills I have learned along with the connections I have made.
I know now that where ever I go I can write for people and there are people who will happily take my articles and post them on their websites. I have people who would happily pay for my writing services and have done in the past and will do in the future.
I have many great opportunities facing me every day and with such a great network of friends I know somehow between us all we can create a great future. You for example create great products John and I have sold a few of your products for you. That is in many ways a great match. So yes, if people are wanting to hear me say it is the thousands that I have earned for Tim as my biggest success then sorry but for me it really does come down to what I have learned and who I know.
(Here is proof of Andi’s great work as an affiliate for one of my products, I have many more pages like this in some of my accounts – thank Andi!)
The connection I talk about consists of people like You (John Banks) Matt Smith, Sam Mottram, Clair Trebes, Alex Whalley, Kapil Jekishan, Mizanur Rahaman Mizan, Ambika Choudhary Mahajan, Patrick Meninga, Slavko Desik and Zac Johnson to mention a few. This is a network and community that is worth its weight in gold and there are a lot more good people I have met and worked with too that are unnamed.
What do you think the internet in 2013 can offer to the average person who wants to make a second income or leave their day job?
This is a question that is both easy and hard to answer, I see so much potential and opportunity with the internet for people to make money I could write about it for hours but at times it can also be so hard to convey to others the potential because there are so many different methods to talk about.
Remember MySpace? It was a social media network that millions of teenagers embraced and it was free to have an account but while millions ‘played and socialised’ Zac Johnson while still at high school designed profile backgrounds and sold them to MySpacers. He made a fortune.
Now we have smartphones and tablets all requiring apps and games which can be bought and downloaded which have made a lot of money for individuals world-wide. There are designers, coders, writers and software developers that we can hire in countries we will probably never visit. For a small fee you could have a fun app made that could easily go viral and if sold for £1 could still make a lot of money. How many people own an iPhone?
Who bought the app that turns your phone into a pint of beer which disappears when you move your phone making it look like you were drinking it? Go on be honest? Loads of people did, a pointless app but it was fun and probably made a hell of a lot of money for someone.
New websites are springing up everywhere that brings people together and once one takes a hold others will follow, think of Just-Eat.co.uk and RatedPeople.com, there are now several sites like them and who thought you would be ordering take away food from a phone without actually ringing anyone? It is crazy right?
There is a website I keep seeing popping up all over Facebook called BlaBlaCar.com where people post the journeys they are taking in the next few days and then if anyone wants a lift they can get a seat in the car for a small fee which covers the fuel costs. It is an incredible idea, instead of trying to thumb a lift you go online now and plan a cheap lift. Today I saw someone offering a seat in their car from Lincoln to Sheffield for £4. Bargain if you ask me but what is more impressive is the website itself.
With a little left field thinking I believe anything is possible online and opportunities are open for anyone willing to spend some time and effort making it happen. You just need an idea and a plan.
Do you have any advice for people thinking of starting or who have just started to use the internet to build a business?
I do yes, my first bit of advice would be to do it. Give it a go, do not say you will do something just work out what you want to do, have an idea how to do it and go for it. If it fails who cares at least you gave it a shot but to be honest failure is just something that happens on the path to success.
If something fails try again but this time do something a little different. We all know that Richard Branson is a success but not everything he has done has been successful. The big problem is we rarely hear of the failures they do because they are not what put them in the limelight. So when people hit a rough patch many give up not realising that the people they see as successful have failed more times than they have.
I think it was Jon bon Jovi who said something along the lines of ‘success is falling down 9 times but getting up 10’
When you consider that a basic website can cost as little as £60 for a year anyone can and should be able to make that back and a whole lot more if they put their minds to it. Put £60 in a bank account these days and you will not earn anything from it but invest in a website and use free tools like YouTube, Screencast-O-Matic, Facebook and Twitter anyone should be able to generate more than a bank any day.
Also I recommend you create a network, join groups and find people who know what they are doing. Make connections and friends, bloggers are friendly people; they will help you if you spend the time being sociable. Avoid anything like the Empower Network where you pay a monthly fee to use their blogging platform; you will lose more than what you gain.
I am not saying that you couldn’t or shouldn’t pay to learn something or join a coaching course because I did and it helped me get to where I am today. I joined a 12 month course where I learned all about WordPress website creation, product creation and traffic generation and it helped me learn in a directed way without too much information overload. Coaching can be good just be careful what you sign up for make an informed decision.
Would you please tell us a little about the services you offer?
At the moment I only offer writing and content creation services and there is a reason for that. In the community I am part of there are people who can do things like WordPress and SEO works better than I can so I would rather those people get that work.
I am a pretty good writer if I do say so myself and I have written several reports and eBooks including creating all of the screenshots and images that go with them so I can offer website content creation and email newsletter writing. I have a lot of experience in creating video tutorials combining screencast and slideshows as you will see here How To Register A Domain Name.
I specialise in online business mainly covering social media, blogging and internet marketing etc but I also write about spiritual topics like the Law Of Attraction and music.
I am able to write about many other topics too, it is just a case of doing some research and knowing about what I need to write and I am confident I can create an excellent and interesting post.
I would like to thank Andi for taking the time to do this interview, I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.