Melbourne curator/founder Kate Kendall interviews Darren Rowse, aka ProBlogger – one of the biggest bloggers in the world (let alone Australia)! He’s also the founder of Digital Photography School and dad to three boys.
Name: Darren Rowse
Works at: ProBlogger, Digital Photography School
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the online space over the past few years?
One that I’ve struggled with at times and that I see a lot of other bloggers grappling with is feeling overwhelmed by all of the new technologies and mediums that are constantly being launched.
We live in an exciting time with a constant stream of new ways to connect with others, share what we’re doing and seeing and as bloggers to build our audience.
While all this is great – it can also prove to be a real distraction for a blogger or online entrepreneur. The distraction can happen in two ways:
- Feeling the pressure to have to be active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Digg, YouTube, Posterous, Tumblr… etc. and not having any time left to actually do your core business.
- Being overwhelmed by the options and pressure to have to participate in every form of social media and use every great new tool – and in the end opting out of them all and in the process missing some great opportunities.
I guess for me it has been a learning process to firstly identify my core business tasks and to prioritise them while also identifying which tools and mediums are best for my particular businesses and putting boundaries around how much time I’ll spend on them.
How much time do you spend online per week?
It would probably be almost easier to count the hours I’m not online in a given week. I’ve not really done the sums but I’m very connected and attempting to cut down.
My core work hours are 8.30am-5pm and then from 7.00pm-11pm on weekdays (I’m pretty good at taking weekends off) but I guess then there’s that iPhone thing that connects me in those other times!
What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?
When I started blogging it was purely a hobby – something I did in lunch breaks, after work and on weekends because I loved to communicate and connect. There was no intention of it growing into a business. Over time I made the transition to it being a part time job and then into a full time job.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in the last 3-4 years is how to grow what I’ve built to the next level – to take it from being an income earner (full time job) into a business.
I had no background in running a business but suddenly I was managing a team, not only juggling content creation but keeping the books, thinking about long term strategy and talking to other companies about partnerships.
Compounding this for me is that I’ve been fortunate to have two businesses do well – both ProBlogger and Digital Photography School have grown into great businesses (each with their own model) – so there’s a constant juggling act in working out where to focus there too.
I guess the challenge really is around growing a company and adapting your own skills and passions in the midst of that growth – something that has been (and is still) a very steep learning curve.
What’s the best thing about the blogging culture in Melbourne?
I love that in the last couple of years we’re seeing the Melbourne (and Aussie) blogosphere beginning to connect with each other in new ways. There are new events happening all the time and out of them we’re seeing bloggers begin to collaborate.
Having traveled through the US to different blogging events I know that the benefits of these face to face interactions will lead to some amazing partnership.
What are the ProBlogger Training Events about?
In 2009 I was tweeting with a few Aussie bloggers and saying that we really should get together to do a day of training together. The reaction from others was great so on the spur of the moment I picked a date, booked a venue and put tickets on sale for what I thought would be a small event.
It sold out quickly and it became apparent that a lot of bloggers wanted to get together to learn and network.
In 2011 we ran it again and it continued to grow – in fact it was such an encouraging day that I got my team planning the next one immediately.
We’re running the 2012 event on 12-13 October at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne (or rooms at Etihad stadium… we’re not quite big enough for a full stadium event yet). The days will be focused on helping bloggers to build their blogs into businesses (through a variety of models).
We expect around 300 attendees and are booking some great speakers – both international and local. There will also be a great evening of networking on the 12 in an amazing Melbourne restaurant.
More info on this training event is at http://probloggerevents.com/problogger-training-event-save-this-date/ – tickets should go on sale in the coming weeks.
My wonderful team are planning some exciting things in the coming months on both of my blogs. On dPS we’ll be further expanding our range of eBooks (we currently sell 9 but by the end of the year there will most likely be 12).
On ProBlogger this week we launched the 3rd edition of the ProBlogger book (a paper book… although it’s also out on Kindle and in iBooks). We’re also working on a couple of secret projects that I think will be useful to bloggers and those who want to connect with bloggers.
I’m also excited to be doing a little speaking in the coming months – both here at the Digital Parents Conference later in March and in the US at an event in October.