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Blogger and super-successful online entrepreneur with a passion for photography.
Elevator Pitch: Who is Jim Harmer?
Jim prefers to introduce himself as a blogger instead of a photographer. He finds that people don’t tend to see blogging as a serious profession. It baffles them that you can earn an income from your blog and being a YouTube personality.
Upon finishing his Bachelors degree, Jim made the decision to study law. In the interim he worked at the Dollar Store in the evenings and listened to podcasts to fight his boredom with his job. These podcasts were mainly about online businesses. Simultaneously he started to learn about photography and enjoyed it greatly. When his classes at law school started, he decided to teach evening photography classes at the local high school. For this he created a blog to communicate with his students. To his surprise the traffic to those blog posts grew to hundreds of thousands and eventually it’s in the millions today.
Jim did finish his law degree, but was never a practising attorney. In his final year at Law school, Jim realised that he would earn much more from his online business than he could ever earn as an attorney.
A Day in the Life of an Online Entrepreneur
Jim doesn’t follow a set regime and he tends to work in sprints, as he calls it. He found that he doesn’t like working set hours. When he feels like working, he puts all his effort into it, but when he takes a break, he focuses all his attention on his family. Jim is able to work so hard in business because he loves what he does. If there’s a specific part of his job that is not particularly enjoyable to him, he will outsource the task. Jim feels his efforts are best utilised in content creation.
The very first thing that Jim outsourced was the finances for the business, a task his wife took off his hands. It’s the type of thing you can’t entrust just anybody with, so he was glad she offered. Shortly after he outsourced their customer support as he feels that this is not one of his strengths. He handed this task over to a virtual assistant (VA). The independent contractors he uses are based all over the globe, most have another day job and he only employs them for one small task. Jim finds it to be much more cost-effective. When a position needs filling, he has in the past made use of platforms such as Fiver and the like. These days he turns to his existing audience, with great results.
Social Media in 2017
Jim started his business 8 years ago, a time to which he refers as the heyday of social media. He had a greater reach when he posted on his social media page. Social media has undergone many changes since then. It is just much more difficult to get your message noticed in the noise that is Facebook these days. Contrary to popular belief, Jim will spend as little time as possible using social media as a marketing platform. He recommends only focusing on those channels you can control. In his case this is his podcast, his blog and his email list. With any new websites he starts he doesn’t even bother building a social media following for them. Jim’s advice is to build a stellar blog right from the beginning.
How to Build a Tribe
If not with social media, then how? Jim identified a niche and created a website with a blog to answer questions. He suggests you write long, decent articles on the topic. For a specific blog on boating he wrote 33 long articles on the subject. Jim published the articles on his blog and left them there for Google to rank. It can take up to 12 months for you to see any real increase in the traffic to your posts. He doesn’t attribute the traffic to SEO or link-building or social media.
Monetising your Blog or Website
The income from Jim’s blog was 100% from Amazon affiliates. Once you reach around 80 000 views per month the revenue from advertisement space also becomes much bigger. He only earns about $7 per 1000 views, so he suggests that you get your traffic up first.
Since Jim started teaching photography he’s been building a community. He estimates that he bans about 100 people from the community per month, mostly because of negative or downright mean comments. The result is a super positive and supportive community. Jim hosts global photography meetups for free, just to build his community and increase the quality thereof.
Multiple Income Streams
Jim started the monetisation of his blogs by selling e-books. These days there’s so much more competition for e-books. Next he incorporated Amazon affiliates, which has been a constant income for many years. Thirdly he started online photography classes, but not long after that YouTube somewhat saturated the market. These days his income comes mainly from his conference, Amazon affiliates, a membership site for photographers, Lightroom presets and advertisements on the website as well as the podcast. Jim suggests you diversify your online income because of the volatile nature of the field. At the moment Jim is working on an app to connect photographers with the best locations for photo shoots in the world.
The two social media sites that Jim still sees value in are YouTube and Pinterest. Unfortunately YouTube tends to bury your links in the description. He realises the downside to a podcast is that it rarely directs listeners to your website. If he wants to make a sale, he utilises his email list as those people are on their computer when they receive the email.
Reset Button: If you had to start over in a different industry, what would it be and why?
Like he’s done in the past, Jim will create a niche site and write great articles for blog posts. When coming up with ideas for these niche websites, he looks towards his hobbies. He also looks for a hobby with products that cost between $150 and $250 and create Amazon affiliate links and add advertisements to the site. Nobody spends $7000 on a product online, but they are inclined to spend in the vicinity of $200. It’s enough money to generate a decent commission, but not so large an amount that people need to consider the purchase for a long time. Jim prefers products to businesses that sell advice or a service. He also tries to limit the need for customer service. You want to focus on a topic that will be relevant for at least five to seven years.
Quite early on Jim decided that he would not rot in some office and spend 40% of his waking hours away from home. If you have a family you need to provide for, you should carefully plan that leap. You don’t want to sit without income for a period. He urges people to think what that flexibility in terms of time could mean for their family.