This interview was supposed to be a live video interview but alas my computer didn’t pick up Jason’s voice barely at all so it sounds like he is whispering and I am screaming. Needless to say I doubt you want to listen to that, instead the interview was transcribed for your reading convenience 🙂 This is an interview with a leader in internet business, online entrepreneurship and podcasting. Jason graciously gives us a lot of awesome tips and information in this interview that will be useful to everyone in the online world. Also Jason runs one of the top internet businesses around so take head!
Maren: For those of you don’t know Jason can you tell us what online ventures your currently a part of?
Jason: Yeah, well the two main ones are internet business mastery which is a show, an online show (soon to be a video show) that is the number one show about internet business and teaches people how to launch your own online business and how to market it. I spend about half my time on that, my other main business is at JasonVanOrden.com and based around teaching people how to start, build and market podcasts and develop a business around podcasting. With both all the money is made through offering premium content, which after listeners consume so much of our free content they are more willing to try. That’s pretty much the business model.
Maren: Okay, well that seems like a model that’s working for you pretty well so far.
Maren: So Jason, what’s the short version of how you got started in internet business?
Jason: Well it was definitely a journey, a process. I started as a disenchanted employee working in a cubicle, I no longer wanted to be in the job so I just started searching and looking for something else by reading lots of books and taking courses. Books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and I started opening my mind to other possibilities.
I finally came around to investing in real estate which led doing seminars for people where I realized “hey I really like this teaching thing”, then I realized I could take my courses and sell them online so that instead of having to consult dollars for hours or do a live seminar I can sell my stuff more worldwide. In the middle of the day or middle of the night people could buy my stuff and I knew it was the best way to do business and that is what led me into internet business and there’s been no looking back since.
Maren: That is a really encouraging story. What was your previous experience that helped prime you for running your current businesses online? Did you have a background in tech or just learn things while you went?
Jason: Uh yeah, but also, I mentioned how I started enjoying teaching and speaking live in front of people. That started in college and also my dad’s an educator. The teaching background came from that avenue but my degree was in engineering and I wrote software for the three short years I had as a career-employee person which included writing code. So that tech background it has helped, it’s not necessary for being in internet business but it certainly helped in the early days of podcasting and figuring that stuff out. With online media in addition I’d had lots of experience with music and media by being a musician in the past and having spent a lot of time in recording studios. It’s all converged now into the type of business I do now.
Maren: What would you say is the coolest part of your life now that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy if you worked a normal, 9 to 5 job and hadn’t reached the ‘cewebrity’ status so to speak?
Jason: I’d say the coolest thing is just the power of choice and what comes along with it. Because I have an internet business I can live wherever I want, because I have an internet business I can work as much or as little as I want, like in one of my businesses I only spend about 20 hours a week on and it makes me more than enough to live off of. So if I wanted to I could just work those 20 hours a week and be fine, but also if I wanted to I could work more and start other ventures. It’s up to me and I have the flexibility of my schedule and the opportunity to chose. I have lived in Argentina and traveled across the country while still running my business because it’s all done online. Basically anywhere there is an internet connection I can work and I really enjoy that aspect.
Maren: That’s awesome. It seems like with internet business the mobility is one of the most desirable parts for most people. So my next question is, where should the line be drawn with self promotion in the online, social spheres?
Jason: Well I definitely do not subscribe to the idea that all information should be free, the purist idea that things like Twitter and podcasts should be free with no ability for monetizing. If someone has valuable content to offer I think they should be able to get paid for it. It’s not only okay but also they owe it to themselves and to all the people looking to benefit from what they have to offer.
So if you have some passion or expertise or something you’re doing why not use it for profit? Marketing 101 is the idea of going where the people are so the cool thing about social media and all the content creation channels is the fact that you don’t have to be intrusive. You don’t have to be the annoying self promoter like the quintessential used car salesman who has to be manipulative to make a profit. Instead the style of marketing that works best on the web is about being authentic, about sharing value and about building relationships with people. People like to do business with people that they like and social tools allow this to happen. People who are searching can find me and I can find people who would like what I am offering. So needless to say I am all for that kind of connection and human interaction, that being said there is obviously a limit as well of how much to share.
Its a tricky balance between building a relationship and turning people off. Think of it like making friends at a cocktail party. You don’t go up to someone at a party and say “Hi my name is Jason” and pitch them right off the bat. I always say think of it like a first date, no one proposes on the first date and if they do it seems ridiculous.. so it’s the same principle online.
Maren: I can kind of guess what you’re going to say from being part of your internet business mastery academy but for those listening what do think is the best way to monetize online and how have you monetized in your various ventures.
Jason: Well my favorite way to make money online is selling information. The reason for that is the margins are really, really high. I can develop a product or a course and create it once, it costs me very little and the value of the information is very very high. So the mark up rather than be a 2 to 3 times mark up can be 10, 20 or even a 100 times what it cost you to create. Books and courses and products online can sell for hundreds or even thousands online and it only takes you once to make them. If you teach something of value to people they will pay a lot of money, like if teach people how to day trade in the stock market they will be willing to hand over some cash since you are giving them the edge to make big money.
But even with hobby type things, you can teach people to knit or about dog training and these are all viable niches. These are hobbies and passions people have and they will be willing to pay after you give some info away for free and then later on charge for premium items. The way I’m making money is by charging for a premium course, a community where members can learn how to start their own online business. We make money mostly through the membership site where people will pay to be a member of an exclusive community that delivers great content regularly and consists of others who are going towards the same goal, interacting and helping each other. Those kind of communities have a lot of value to consumers.
Maren: If you could use one means of social media to promote your business which would it be? I.E. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or even adwords?
Jason: Ah, that is a good question.
Maren: Tricky eh?
Jason: (laughs) Yeah… well if I had to chose one thing and maybe this is too broad but it would have to be the ability to create content on my own blog. Then at least I have my own home base where people can come and find me, interact with the content and I can speak to them via the content. I don’t know if that is too broad of an answer but I think that is the best way to connect with any market.
Maren: So you think that a blog is the single most important thing for people launching a business or pushing a brand online?
Jason: Absolutely and more fundamentally it’s about having a primary channel, a home base for quality content and interacting with people. Also having it in a place where you are in control of, not controlling a certain agenda but instead having a place where other platforms like Twitter or Facebook can come in and shut down your content. Not that I think that is even likely to happen but its good not to build up a brand or image solely on a platform you don’t control. So if I only had to chose one I’d chose a blog or an email newsletter which I can take to whatever hosting I have.
The most valuable asset you have in any business is the ability to communicate with your market, I could lose everything tomorrow and if I still had the channels to communicate with my market I’d be back up on my feet in no time. So I don’t want for my primary channel of connecting to those followers there being even a chance for it to be shut down, like with Twitter, Youtube or Facebook. Like I said I am not saying don’t use these platforms at all, but just don’t make them your only or primary means of communication with your followers and market.
Maren: I think often people forget that with any social media network the rules could change. Google could buy Twitter and shut it down, not likely but its good to be safe. Also your blog is your ‘online real estate’ in a sense because you own it and control what goes on there. Okay so time for a silly question, who is a ‘cewebrity’ crush you have i.e. bloggers, entrepreneurs or internet movers and shakers who you look up to and learn from, it can even be fictional cewebrities like Chad Vader.
Jason: Oh that’s hard, it would have to be like mentors for me like Jeff Walker. He’s an interesting character because he had a very loyal following but he’s not out there like Chad Vader. He’s more behind the scenes but has this very loyal following and he impacts people’s lives. Somebody like that is a valuable cewebrity and I’ve interacted with him a lot on the web and since then met with him in person. Let’s see who else, there is a lot of really cool people just doing their own thing online. Its amazing how you can build your own little Oprah phenomenon online through building up a solid, loyal fan base.
Maren: What is next for the co-founder of internet business mastery? Are you and your partner Sterling going to try to go for the #1 spot on Google for the highly competitive keyword “internet business”?
Jason: That is a competitive keyword. We’ve got a lot in the works right now, we are starting to do video and broadcasting live online. The convenience of video is awesome but the ability to connect with the live interaction when you do a live broadcast really takes the relationship to a new level. Using Ustream or livestream.com is something we are utilizing and looking into a lot more. Big picture stuff we’ve always wanted to write a book or a series of books. That may be an awesome way to reach some people who would love our message but just haven’t heard it yet, but who knows it does take a lot of time to get an offline book written and published. More live events and speaking gigs will be coming down the line hopefully in 2010 and after that the skies the limit.
Maren: I see a reality show, like you two on a bus together.
Jason: The Sterling and Jay show, I could see it. That could be fun, go to some small town farmers and teach them how to start an internet business from scratch. I’ll shuffle that one away in the ideas folder and let you know if we do it.
Maren: I’m telling you it could be a hit.
Jason: I like it.
Maren: Well Jason thank you so much for doing this interview and sharing so much of your valuable information with our readers. Please tell those who are interested where they can find you online.
Jason: You can find me at JasonVanOrden.com where I teach people how to master new media and offer podcasting education or at InternetBusinessMastery.com where me and Sterling help others start their own profitable internet business following our proven methods. Also check me out at twitter.com/jasonvo.
Maren: Thanks so much and everyone check those links out!
Jason: No problem, bye.