Going from an ordinary blogger to an extremely successful businessperson is all about scale.
You start off by developing a profitable system. When, and only when you finally have a good system in place, you scale it up as much as you can and reap the rewards.
Of course, neither of those are easy. Many people focus a lot of time on creating a profitable system, because that’s the first vital step. For a moment though, let’s talk about what to do once you’ve got that system in place.
Let’s talk about scaling it up. Let’s talk about building an entire online empire.
The Importance Of An Empire
Very few bloggers attempt the transition from blog to empire.
Some are content with never branching out. Nothing wrong with that. Theoretically there is no amount you can make with just a blog and an email list.
Some people start to branch out too quickly, and end up having to cancel their plans. Even I was guilty of this, when I launched my podcast and ended up temporarily cancelling it less than two months after starting.
Some people buy into the whole ‘do what you love and the money will follow’ lie and never really end up taking on any new challenges.
That’s not how you become the next big thing, though. That’s not how you really become an authoritive leader. When you take on the challenge of building an online empire, any security or comfort you’ve felt before is washed out the window. You’re making a commitment to go above and beyond most people in attempt to reap the rewards that can be there for the taking.
Let’s Look At ProBlogger
Let’s take a look at a true media empire, ProBlogger. I chose ProBlogger because we’re all bloggers here, and Darren Rowse’s business is one of the most well known in the industry. Heck, when I started out this is where I learned much of what I still use today.
For a moment, let’s look at ProBlogger as a brand or a business rather than a website, because in reality that’s what it actually is. Like many, it started out as solely a blog, but has since expanded drastically and has truly become a media empire.
Rather than just a website, ProBlogger also has:
- A podcast.
- Books and other products for sale.
- A YouTube channel.
- Social media pages with hundreds of thousands of followers.
- An email list with over 300,000 subscribers.
- Speaking events and in-person meetups.
- A discussion board.
- A membership site
- And more!
If somebody had never heard of ProBlogger before, they would have a lot of different places to find them. Likewise, if somebody was a true fan of ProBlogger, they’d have a lot of different places the brand could work their way into their lives. If somebody wants to, they have the opportunity to eat, sleep, and breathe ProBlogger.
Compare this to an average blog. New content may be posted weekly, but ultimately one can only spend so much time on the website before they consume everything it has to offer and they leave.
12 Steps To Building Your Own Empire
1. Stockpile On Coffee
You’re going to need lots of it. And while you’re at it, go ahead and pick yourself up one of these. The time it will save you will be invaluable.
2. Don’t Start Too Early
You must have a profitable system in place before you can began to expand. You can be putting stuff out on 30 different platforms, but 30 x 0 still equals 0. Before beginning to expand, you need to have a well refined niche, an existing audience, and a monetization method in place that will allow you to make your expansions worthwhile.
Your ultimate goal with expansion is increasing profits. You’ll do that by reaching more people and connecting with your existing audience further, but ultimately you need a way to monetize that. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
3. Your Empire Shouldn’t Be Reliant On You
Every business needs an exit strategy.
I would never build a business around myself, because that leaves me with no exit. If I had named this website “JamesMcAllister.com,” than I’d essentially be stuck with it because nobody would want to buy it. Likewise, if I had branded the business around me, than the business would be unsellable as well.
If something were to happen and I would no longer be able or willing to work on “James McAllister LLC”, it would die. And there would be no paycheck at the end either.
I think it’s good to brand yourself and let your readers get to know you. Building relationships on a personal level really does help you retain visitors and make sales. ‘You’ being heavily involved in the business generally does you more good than bad.
But the business needs to be above you.
Going back to our ProBlogger example from earlier, it’s clear how Darren Rowse (the original founder) has removed himself a bit from the business, allowing it to thrive without him being a focus. In the early days of ProBlogger, Darren wrote almost all the posts himself and the tone was very personal. These days, less and less posts are written by him, and most of his other media outlets are branded as ‘ProBlogger’ rather than his own name.
For example, it’s the ‘ProBlogger Podcast’ rather than the ‘Darren Rowse Show’ or something similar. Could you imagine a ‘Darren Rowse Show’ without Darren Rowse? That wouldn’t make much sense. However, the ‘ProBlogger Podcast’ could be ran by anyone on his team and that would be acceptable.
4. Create A Product Of Your Own To Sell
Owning an online media empire without products for sale is like owning an Apple store with all the branding, logos, and employees, but nothing on the shelves.
Nothing screams ‘authority’ like having a collection of products for sale.
One guy I’ve seen work this really well is a man named Ryan Biddulph, with his brand Blogging From Paradise. When I first thought of empire building, I thought of this guy because his branding is exceptional and the steps he has taken to expand have been phenomenal.
When I first started following his blog, I believe he had no products for sale. Today, he has nearly 100 books for sale on Amazon revolving around his brand, and recently came out with a podcast as well.
When you take the time to create a product, you’re putting yourself above everyone else who did not bother to do so. Not to mention, that gives you the opportunity to utilize affiliates to promote your brand for you.
5. Expand Onto Other Platforms
We’ve discussed this a bit already, but if you want to build an empire you’ve got to be multiple places at once.
Nobody can spend all of their time on your website. It can’t happen, and it won’t happen.
Your goal is to involve you and your brand in as many aspects of your audience’s lives as possible.
Get in their email inbox. Get on their Facebook news feeds. Get in their car or gym via a podcast. Let them see your smiling face when they open up YouTube.com and look through their subscriptions. Teach them something so phenomenal, they can’t help but think of you when they go to apply it. Get them financially invested in you by charging them a fair amount for a good product.
The list goes on and on and on. But it’s important. Your target audience should be thinking about your brand as much as possible.
The truth is, this is the same strategy many big companies use to make sales. When you see a car insurance commercial, they do not expect you to pick up the phone and order insurance that very moment.
Instead, they’ll play that ad over and over again knowing that it may be years before you finally buy. However, when it comes time for you to purchase car insurance, they will be the company on your mind. And they will get your money.
The more time and money people invest into your business and your content, the more likely they are to buy something when presented with the opportunity. If you’re building an empire, you’re in this for the long haul.
6. Reinvest Profits Back Into Your Business
This is the one that hurts many people. When they finally start tasting success, when the snowball finally starts rolling, they push it back up to the top and let it sit there.
Massive companies are made by investing profits back into the business to grow the business further. Let the snowball roll down the hill and accumulate more snow. When it’s done, it will be much, much larger.
Think about stock shares for a moment, and look at how these companies operate. Their goal is to make the most amount of money possible for their shareholders.
Theoretically, they could pay out the majority of their profits out to investors in the form of a dividend. Most however, don’t. They pay a small percentage of the overall profits out and invest much of the rest into building up the business further. Even Apple, with a market cap of $710 BILLION (and over $200 billion of cash being held) still pays a relatively small dividend, where many large companies such as Google and Facebook do not pay one at all.
My strategy with my business is simple. 65% of my net profits go into the stock market, building my income up further. 25% go into expanding some area of my business further. Only 10% is money I spend freely on anything else I’m interested in.
This is only one example of how living a minimalistic lifestyle can make you richer.
I understand the temptation to immediately enjoy the money you’re making, but you can make much, much more by reinvesting back into your business and letting the snowball grow. Not to mention, business expenses are tax deductible. 😉
7. Become Recognizable, Regardless Of Where You’re At
When you expand onto other platforms and get more involved with your audience’s lives, they should be able to recognize you regardless of where you appear.
In fact, being well known for something is the ultimate sign of authority. When people recognize you for something while you’re not on your home turf, you know you’re doing everything right.
You’d be surprised how often I’ve heard things like,
“Hey James! I’ve seen you on XYZ forum before, I never knew you had a website/course/page/product!”
Once I even had somebody recognize me in public just based on my voice. That was kind of startling, to say the least.
Anyhow, when people see you around a lot, you become an authority in their eyes. They remember you and begin to trust you, even if just on a subconscious level. They build a connection with you, because you two spend time on the same platforms.
8. Make Friends With Other Leaders
Making friends with influential people is the number one thing you can do to become influential yourself. Heck, if there’s one way to skyrocket your growth quickly, it’s to leverage the hard work of other people.
If you can become good friends with leaders in your area, you will be perceived as a leader yourself. Not to mention, you will be able to help each other out when necessary, the benefits of which are virtually unlimited.
See: A Step-By-Step Guide To Making Friends With Influential Bloggers
When even the leaders are talking about you, people will know something serious is going on. That you’re important. And they won’t want to feel like they’re missing anything, so they will check you out on their preferred platform.
9. Study Business Topics Extensively
When you make the change from blogger to businessperson, there are a lot of new things to learn. Your biggest concern is no longer coming up with great content or even marketing. You’ve got much bigger topics to pay attention to – accounting, logistics, management. Marketing needs to be approached on a broader scale and gets a bit more difficult.
When you introduce a lot of new ideas, platforms, and services, there is a lot of opportunity for something to go wrong. Keeping everything organized can be challenging.
You’re never going to become a business expert overnight, but if you keep learning something new every day, you’ll be able to do everything you need to do in no time.
Do yourself a favor and start by joining my VIP Club, which includes access to all of my courses and much more!
10. Outsource As Much As You Can
There are no limits to which you can scale your business, but there are only 24 hours in a day. If you want to build a massive empire, there is only so much you can do by yourself.
Set a firm value for your time. If you’re working a regular job on top of your entrepreneurial ventures, it should be whatever you’re getting paid at your job per hour on average.
Whatever can be done for less than what your time is worth, outsource. Focus your time where it matters most. Where you can’t be replaced.
Billion dollar companies aren’t built by one person, after all. Employees are hired because they make the business more money than what they cost. Hire employees when it makes sense, and make up for it by working longer hours at your normal job if you have to.
11. Forget Work-Life Balance (For Now)
One giant myth about being an entrepreneur is that life is all about balance.
If you know what’s good for you, you wouldn’t believe that for a second.
Sure, it’s very possible to have a nice balance of work and life, but think about what you’re giving up. Entrepreneurship isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. And when you take time off work to do something else, there is somebody out there working harder than you, prepared to take your share of the market.
That’s the reality of business.
I’m not saying don’t take time off to enjoy life, but understand that building an empire is both a marathon and a sprint at the same time. Once you find success, once you have enough income to pay other people to do your work, then you have a lot more freedom to take time off or explore other opportunities. Until then however, keep on grinding.
12. Expand Slowly
Despite the fact that you’ll be wanting to work on your empire as much as possible, it’s important not to take things too quickly.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I too made the mistake of expanding faster than I should have. I launched a podcast while also working on my first video course, and it was ultimately too much. I ended up cancelling the podcast less than two months after starting it, although I do plan to relaunch it eventually.
Expanding too quickly can make you overwhelmed and ultimately hurt you. This is especially true in the beginning stages, when you are still trying to figure things out.
Not to mention, if you focus your attention in too many different places at once, you’ll end up giving none of them the true attention they need to grow and succeed.
Make sure whatever you’re working on now is fully developed before branching out further.
Building an online media empire can not be done in a day, but by taking small steps and following the advice laid out for you in this article, you are well on your way to creating something amazing.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or your suggestions regarding transforming your blog into an online media empire. What has worked for you? What’s holding you back?
The knowledge you share with us can benefit us all, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment with your insight.
We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
You have shared some great advice. I had just the opposite issue, I had already been a businessman before I was a blogger so my mindset is already angled in that direction.
When I started 14 months ago with my blog at UnveiltheWeb I had one goal for six months; connect with those who serve the same audience I do but in a different way and are authorities amongst their audience.
It was a massive winner for me!!!!
Over the last six months I’ve not only expanded my network and blog (which just one a Best Marketing Blog Award) but I added a podcast that is skyrocketing and in early June I launched a new webinar which was the #1 money making thing I’ve done to date!!!!
It was so successful that I shared in my blog article this week what has happened over the last six months and in particular the last month that has caused my business to explode!!!!
Scaling is a really big deal and I have a lot of plans for the next six months and in January I am considering some other options for my growing community as well to include a membership site.
Again, great advice James!!!!
Have an awesome end to your week.
~ Don Purdum
Don Purdum recently posted…Why My Business Tripled in Just Six Weeks!
Hi Don! I feel horrible for taking so long to get back to you.
You’re another great example of somebody who has branched out quickly and effectively and is seeing the rewards of that. I remember first meeting you when I saw all the awesome comments you were leaving on other people’s blogs. I knew right away that you were someone to take seriously, someone who had nowhere to go but up.
I also remember tuning into your podcast for the first time. It was the episode where you talked with Donna and David Merrill, I believe about email marketing. I know you’ve been nailing the webinars as well, I appreciate you inviting me to them on Google+.
The great thing about this is I know people are finding you for the first time on some place other than your blog and loving the content you put out, so they’re going to become loyal readers as well. Every platform is working for each other which is awesome.
I look forward to watching you grow further as time goes on. Your hard (and smart) work is yielding you great results!
James McAllister recently posted…Aweber vs GetResponse: A Detailed Analysis And Review
Excellent advice as usual! One cannot fall into that get rich quick myth. It takes time, focus, and many factors to build our “empire.”
What stood out to me the most here is to create your own product. It does build authority and once you have done one product, it gets easier and easier to do. No magic tricks here but hard work and persistence.
Also creating a membership site, something I’ve started a year ago, is a great idea. One must be ready for it because of the “promises” we give to others. We have to do the homework, put out content and communicate with those on our membership site. We have to make that valuable to them.
All the other things you have mentioned are spot on my friend.
Donna Merrill recently posted…The 20 Percent Solution
Hi Donna! Sorry for the slow response, it’s a very busy time of year for me.
As someone who’s recently created quite a few products I couldn’t agree with you more. This was really the turning point for me, a lot of good things started to happen after I began creating products and I expect this to continue as I create even more. As you said it gets easier and easier to do – the last course I created took less than half the time my first one did, and my last course is longer!
Thanks for bringing up the membership site idea, I completely forgot about that when I was writing this post. A membership site is a great way to build your empire because it’s something people must regularly pay to access and constantly gives subscribers premium content to look forward to. For somebody who is already a huge fan of your work, signing up for your membership site is a logical next step.
I do eventually want to start one myself but I’m definitely not ready at this time. As you said, one must be absolutely sure they’re ready and can provide the value that subscribers deserve, on top of everything else we’re already doing. I look forward to the day I am 100% sure I can do that.
Thanks Donna for stopping by, great to talk to you again!
James McAllister recently posted…CTA Skin Review – Highlight Your Call To Action And Increase Conversions!
Hey there James! Such excellent advice my friend. Goodness, I wish I would have came across all of this goodness years ago when I started my first blog. But hey..better late than never right.
I especially love where you mentioned (scaling your business). This is super important and something that I am working on doing right now with my new brand.
Great read dude. Take care and have a great one!
Hi Kim! Same here hahaha..
Scale is huge, and something so many people fail to ever do. The fact of the matter is you can only make so much until you start developing systems that will allow you to scale. Hiring employees, automation, outsourcing, these are all things we are all going to eventually have to do if we want to grow because each one of us only have 24 hours in a day.
I didn’t truly realize the challenges of scaling until I started doing it with my eCommerce business. We started out buying and reselling things locally, but there is only so much to buy and so much we can process in a given time period. Hiring help has been interesting and we’re now moving into bulk importing from China… quite a different story but the clear next step!
Amazing how much things change in terms of the work tasks we do when we truly start growing into a bigger business! Thanks for stopping by Kim!
James McAllister recently posted…You Wouldn’t Believe How Blogging Has Transformed My Life