Episode 77 | Posted on

Blogging for Money While You Sleep (and Play!) with John Chow

John Chow is the original dot com mogul — as well as being an author, speaker, blogger, father, and entrepreneur. He rocketed onto the blogging scene when he showed the income power of blogging with a case study to see what it would take to make $3,000 a month. In this conversation, John walks us through many of the details involved in how he achieved this overwhelming success. The interview is full of invaluable tips and insights on various aspects of how to succeed in making money online.

In this Episode

  • [01:37] – John shares his biggest ‘aha’ moment, which was when he discovered that you can make money online.
  • [05:14] – How long did it take John to go from making $0 to making $10,000 a month on his site? He answers, then walks us through the journey of his site through the dot com boom and bust.
  • [08:55] – After Adsense came along, John had a bit of a learning curve in figuring out ad placement, colors, and so on. After four to five months, he was making good money again.
  • [09:47] – John talks about the social media boom, which was when things started taking off for him again. He explains how he got into blogging, and talks about being called out on talking about making money by blogging when his blog wasn’t making any money.
  • [13:05] – In response to being called out, John made a case study involving monthly posts about his blog’s income. The goal was to make $3,000 a month on two hours a day.
  • [16:18] –  John explains why other bloggers are able to post their monthly income still, even though he needed to stop due to requests from his advertisers.
  • [17:10] – John stopped using AdSense after about a year and a half. He then explains why he decided to focus on making more money per visitor instead of getting more visitors.
  • [19:08] – We learn more about the products that John has on his site now.
  • [20:26] – John talks more about affiliate marketing.
  • [21:58] – Did John create a course specifically about email marketing using AWeber, or was it more generically about email marketing? After answering, John talks about his choice not to disclose his affiliation with AWeber in his first ebook, before there were stringent guidelines on doing so.
  • [24:34] – John gives us some sense of approximately how much of his income is from affiliate marketing versus his own products. He then discusses adding higher-price items without increasing his time per day.
  • [26:52] – John still works around two hours a day on average.
  • [27:35] – Is this podcast part of John’s two hours a day, or is it in addition to that time?
  • [28:45] – John walks us through how he monetizes his videos.
  • [30:18] – What does John recommend as a next step for someone who is using AdSense?
  • [32:18] – John offers some insight into how to best use AdSense in terms of size, placement, and style.
  • [35:49] – Stephan reveals that his oldest daughter made money on AdSense as a teenager.
  • [37:21] – How often does John recommend blogging to keep up momentum? In his answer, he reveals that he believes his consistency is one of the main keys to his success.
  • [41:28] – Does John theme his days, as recommended by Mike Vardy? Stephan then brings up the concept of having free day, buffer days, and focus days.
  • [43:54] – John sometimes does episodes while he’s driving, he explains. He and Stephan discuss the safety of multitasking this way.
  • [45:32] – Currently, all the traffic to John’s YouTube channel and blog is organic.
  • [47:06] – What is John doing from an SEO standpoint? As he answers, he talks about another (somewhat inadvertent) case study he did on whether you can build a blog without Google.
  • [49:52] – John recommends Affiliate Summit as his favorite conference. The book he’s currently reading is No Excuses! by Brian Tracy.


Hello and welcome to Marketing Speak. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer. Today, I’m super excited to have John Chow joining us. John is the Original Dot-Com Mogul. He’s an author, speaker, blogger, father, entrepreneur and he rocketed onto the blogging scene when he showed the income power of blogging by taking his blog from making $0 to over $40,000 a month in just two years and he did it working only two hours a day. Today, johnchow.com is one of the biggest blogs on the internet with over 200,000 active daily readers and followers. johnchow.com is ranked number 16 on the AdAge Power 150 list and number one in the list of the top 50 Canadian Internet Marketing Blogs. John is also founder and CEO of TTZ Media. John, it’s great to have you on the show.

It is good to be here, Stephan. How are you?

I’m doing great. It’s been a fun but challenging day. I’ve been recording my information product on social media marketing for SEO. It’s good, all good. I wanted to ask you though if you could share the biggest aha moment in your journey from making zero to whatever you’re doing now per month. What was that big epiphany?

I guess the biggest aha moment would be when I first discovered you could actually make money online. When I first discovered the internet, I was like anybody else, just surfing around, discovering all the great things that it can offer. Along the way, I learned web design by just reading a dummy book. My first website was made with Microsoft FrontPage. Anyway, one of the sites that I’ve created way back when was a technology news and review site called The TechZone. That was just a website about the first computer that I built all by myself and I overclocked it to 300 megahertz, to 504 megahertz which is I guess, back then, unheard of accomplishment. I did a 504 megahertz. How sad, your phone is way faster than that by 10 times. This site started to get some readers and it started to attract a readership. I was operating it for fun and just enjoying it because it was a hobby, it was fine, I enjoyed doing it. When I posted one day I get an email from a man, his name was Ed Homich. Ed, he worked for Maximum PC Magazine. He told me that Maximum PC was starting a Maximum PC network and what they were doing was they were getting a whole bunch of websites together. Once I started getting some traffic, I get this email from a man named Ed Homich from Maximum PC Magazine. Back then, I guess the business model back then was big publishers, a magazine would create an advertising network by bringing a whole bunch of websites together and then represent them. Maximum PC was starting the Maximum PC Network and they were getting a whole bunch of technology sites together and they were going to represent them and sell inventory to advertisers like Intel and AMD and they wanted me to join them. I was like, “I can make money doing that?” They said they would sell advertising on my site for me and the money will be split 50/50. I have no idea that was how it was done so I go, “Well okay, sign me up, that sounds great.” Here I figured I’m doing something that I enjoy doing, this is a hobby and I can make some money from it, awesome. They sent me a contract, I signed it and then they sent me a piece of ad code, that’s my first exposure to the little ad code that you get to put onto your site. Back then, I was using Microsoft FrontPage, there was no contact management system, nothing like that. I had to basically put the ad code on every single page, not like today where you have script to do all this kind of stuff. I would see an ad from Intel and then some are from, I think, Videa. My first month, I get a check from them, it’s around $350. I thought that was the coolest thing because I’m thinking at the back of my mind, $350 a month and I’m doing this for fun. This is several thousand a year, this is actually pretty cool. Next month, the check was for $2,800. It kept going from there and suddenly what started out as a little hobby for me to just dabble and learn from turned into a full blown business.

How long did it take you to go from 0 to $10,000 a month?

It took about six months or so. What happened then was Facebook went really, really well. This was the Dot-Com boom time. This was 1999, 2000 that I went into that, the first Dot-Com boom. Back then, everything had a crazy valuation and it was not uncommon back then for companies to raise tons of money in investor funding and then spend all the money to create a brand for themselves. I made most of my money from advertising, I was selling advertising, we would be benefactor of all that money. What happened was during the boom time, I actually received an offer of $1.6 million for the site. I said no because another tech site friend who runs SysOpt and Reseller Ratings, he had sold both of those sites to Earth Web for almost $12 million. I talked to him and he said, “No, no. No, you need more than $1.6 million, that’s way too low.” I said no and the deal fell apart and then six months later the internet crashed, that was in 2001, they started the Dot-Com crash. Pretty much everything just came crashing down. I went from 5 figures a month down to $1,500 a month. I had to make a drastic change to my lifestyle. Those were back in the bleak moments, 9/11 happened then. After that, the advertising networks that were flushing money suddenly all went under, the Maximum PC Network went under and a lot of my friends who ran sites, they couldn’t get the bills going. They couldn’t get the light on because they can’t pay the bills because there was no money. I was able to survive this mostly because I kept the cost in running my business really, really low. I didn’t get caught up in the, “Hey, let’s spend and throw big parties and stuff.”

I was able to survive mostly because I kept the cost in running my business really, really low.

That’s good. I survived it too. It was uncomfortable but what really helped me out was I was based in New Zealand at that time and built out a team over there. The exchange rate was really favourable. It was like 0.40 to the dollar back then so I was able to pay people half price and they were really great programmers, designers and so forth, top notch talent for half price was a very good deal. That allowed us to keep going and not have to shut the lights off. It was a rough time. Those were uncomfortable days, belt tightening days.

During the boom days, I would spend like $1,500 just eating out. Suddenly, my income is that much, it dropped that low. I remember it was a few rough years in there and then it wasn’t until Google released AdSense that things started coming back alive again. Once Google launched AdSense, they singlehandedly brought the internet marketing industry or advertising back to life.

How long did it take you to ramp up on AdSense to a really nice lifestyle again?

Before AdSense came along, I sold my advertising on a CPM basis so I didn’t really have to figure much about placement colors and that kind of stuff. Google being cost per click required a bit of learning curve so I had to figure out placement, color, all that effects. It took four or five months of experimentation before we finally got it to a nice good click rate where we made good money again. With the launch of AdSense, a shift happened, you could tell things were coming back around. Suddenly, other solutions started coming up. Other things like internet games started going back up again. I built it back up to around $5,000 to $6,000 a month then I pretty much stayed there. I remember the second boom, the social media boom, that’s when things started really taking off. Blogging started coming along and stuff like that, that was around 2000. Then at 2005, when I started hearing more and more talk about blogs and blogging and at that time, I have no idea what a blog was. I go, “What is blogging?” What I basically did was I decided I’m going to learn blogging and basically I learned by doing instead of reading a book. I figure, hey, let’s start a website. I see everyone talk about blogging, let’s find out what a blog is, let’s start a blog. I had the johnchow.com domain since 1999. I registered it a long time ago from 1999 to end of 2005. There’s nothing on it except my pictures and welcome to John Chow, that’s all. I decided I’m going to turn that into a blog and I’m going to use that to learn blogging. That’s what I did. In December 2005, johnchow.com came from a static page or one page on it to a blog. The blog was supposed to update my friends and family on what it is I’m doing and it also allowed me to talk about other stuff in other verticals that I couldn’t talk about in my technology sites. They had to remain in tech. I was able to talk about those sites and how changing the color affected conversion, that kind of stuff. It was those internet money making, how to make money blog posts that got people interested in my blog. I also talked about something like what I ate for dinner, that kind of stuff too. I like to think that they came to my blog because they wanted to see what I ate but I think that wasn’t it.

No, only the stalkers.

Blogging started getting bigger. I was writing about how to make money with affiliate sites, content sites, and technology sites. Blogging is on an upswing now and it’s hitting the mainstream so the question suddenly shifting from how to monetize a content site or affiliate site to how will you monetize a blog? Gradually, I started shifting the blog post from monetizing affiliate site, content site to monetizing a blog. The marketing still works whatever the blogs are, it’s still the same, at least as far as I can say it’s still the same, what works for a content site will work for blog. At that time, when I first started to blog, it’s just to update friends and family but it never meant to make any money and it wasn’t making any money but here I was writing a blog post on how to make money by blogging but my blog made no money. One day, I got caught up on it. You talk great, you talk about making money by blogging but your blog makes no money. It was a valid point. What I did was I decided I’m going to make a case study. I’m going to monetize the blog and at the end of every single month, I’m going to make a blog post and I’m going to tell how much traffic the blog got, how much money the blog made and what I did to make that money. You can follow along this case study and the goal of the case study was to make $3,000 a month on two hours a day. I called it full time income, part time blogging. I figured if you can make $3,000 a month on two hours a day, you’re not rich but now you got some choices because this is money on top of your job. It’s on top of your business. You can use it to do whatever. That was the case study. First three months of the blog’s life from December 2005 to September 2006, the blog made 0, absolutely nothing, it was just a personal blog. In September 2006, I monetized it with Google AdSense, back then that’s what you use, it made $352.84 in that first month. Four months later, I hit the $3,000 goal. Basically, it took me five months to hit the $3,000 a month goal. Instead of stopping it, “Hey, goal achieved, we’re done.” I decided to, what would happen if we decide to keep this going? At that point, the blog was still using the default WordPress theme, all I did was just monetize it by putting some banner advertising on it. What will happen if I would redesign the blog, revamp it and make as much money as possible and just keep the case study going, how much money can it make? The case study kept going and within two years, the blog’s income is up to $40,000 a month.

That’s awesome, that’s quite a nice income. You didn’t stop there, did you?

After we hit to that goal, my accountant, she told me to maybe stop posting how much you’re making. I didn’t listen to her. I go, “No, this is great because those blog posts, not only are they a good case study and motivational, it actually gets a lot of views and it gets a lot of attraction and readership, it gets a lot of shares and that brings more people which makes more money.” I want to keep it going but then what happened was the reason I actually stopped it was because my advertisers, they wanted me to stop telling people how much money they were paying me. That’s the reason I eventually stopped the case study because they would go, “Don’t tell them how much we’re paying you, please.”

There are other internet marketers who are posting how much they’re making every month like John Lee Dumas and Pat Flynn. They don’t seem to have that push back, I guess, I don’t know, they’re doing it, they’re publishing it.

I think it’s because they’re using networks instead of private advertisers, a specific person or a specific company. I believe I was probably among the very first who started doing income case studies because I started back in September of 2006 and I did it for a good two years. I know along that time a few started doing it, then eventually I stopped it. At that time, I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t the first I was definitely among the top five, the first five.

Yeah, that’s very innovative.

It was a good driver of listener and a good driver of traffic.

Very cool. What percentage of your monetization comes from AdSense nowadays?

Nowadays, zero.

When did you stop doing AdSense?

The blog had AdSense on it about a year, a year and a half. To increase the income of the blog, I looked at it this way. There’s two ways we can increase income for our site. We can increase the traffic or we can increase the money we make from the existing traffic, we can increase the CPM. I decided to go for the root of increasing the amount of money I make per visitor because I figured it’s a lot easier to double the CPM than it is to double the traffic of the site. The first thing is I looked at AdSense and say if I went on Google Ads, Google is taking half the money if not more. If I sell it myself, I’ll take all the money. Often time when I look at the Google Ads that are running on my site, they were not really from the seller of the product, they were affiliates of the product. They were just using Google as their advertising medium. Basically, I started running those ads, I found private ads and just running my own affiliate ads that were running on Google and suddenly the income for that doubled. After that, my advertisers who are buying ad space, obviously, they’re getting a return on what they’re paying me otherwise they wouldn’t be advertising with me. I started looking at what are they selling my readers and then I looked at what they’re selling and they’re basically selling courses on internet marketing or courses on email marketing, that kind of stuff. I figured I can make my own course. I started a series of cutting out the middleman, so to speak. Instead of running Google Ad and someone clicking it, going to an advertiser, I make $0.50, I try to keep the person on my blog and offer my own product where I can sell them my own product and make a lot more.

How many products do you have now?

Basically I have a mix of affiliate products. I have a range of products. I have the free product which are the lead drivers to get people on my list. They’re generally ebooks and little training courses but mostly ebook that I give away for free in exchange for email address. And then I have a low priced trip wire products to separate the leads from the customer. They could be ebooks, video courses, blogging course, they range in price from $10 to $97, not to really make big money but just to find who the customers among my list.

Train them to spend money with you.

Exactly. Once we find the customer, we’ll then concentrate on them to sell the much more expensive, high end products. The big ticket product we have will be $2,000 training courses, then we’ll have private masterminds that ranges up to $30,000 and private mentorship program up to $100,000.

Private mentorship at $100,000, wow, that’s quite a high ticket item.

We don’t get too many of them but I don’t need too many to make a lot of money, I suppose.

How much affiliate marketing are you doing? You got your own products that you’re promoting and selling on your site but then you’re an affiliate marketer as well.

Yes I am. I’m quite finicky about what products I promote from other affiliates. Most of the affiliate stuff that I promote on my blog is a continuity type program like AWeber, Leadpages. They pay monthly. For AWeber, they give me 30% of their customer’s bill for life. When I refer a new customer to AWeber and they sign up for an email list, the first month I make zero because it’s a 30 day trial. By next month, the bill goes to $19 and I get 30%, I make $5.40. As long as they stay a customer, I will continue getting that $5.40 and as the list gets bigger, my 30% gets bigger. In the last ten plus years that I’ve had my blog up, I referred well over 1,000 customers to AWeber and I make 30% of the customer’s bill. The biggest account I referred to AWeber, his bill has gotten so big, I think it’s 20,000 names and the monthly bill is $35,000 so I get 30% of that. To this very day, I don’t know who that person is.

If you ever find it out then you should take him to dinner.

Exactly. I’d love to find out who it is.

Did you create a course specifically about email marketing using AWeber or was it more generic like here’s how to do email marketing and I’ll just happen to direct you to AWeber as my tool of choice or whatever?

It was actually part of my way to get more AWeber referrals. If I’m promoting AWeber or any affiliate program the same as the next guy, there’s really no reason or no justification for buying it from me versus another affiliate if I’m offering the same thing. I always try to build a value ad around whatever I’m promoting. In my case, for AWeber, I noticed that when I first started getting people signing up for the AWeber, I found out that if they don’t get the list to a certain size, they would cancel, they would cancel because they figured I’m paying $19 for up to 500 names. If they get 500 names, they’ll stay on forever. But if they only got, like the first month is free, and they get only like 50 names. At the back of their minds, “I’m paying $19 for 50 names. It’s not worth it, I’m going to cancel.” I thought if I can just get them to even 250 names on their list, they’ll stick around. What I do is that I created a little course, a free email marketing course, I’m going to teach you how to get five million names in 30 days. How do you find them in 30 days and of course step one, you need to some place to host your email list and that’s when I recommend AWeber. I say, follow the rest, you’ll hopefully get five million names within 30 days and by that time you will stick around and I will keep getting my 30% from you.

That’s awesome. Do you disclose in the ebook and the training that you’re going to get a commission when they sign up for AWeber?

The first ebook, no. I basically recommend AWeber because I use them myself and they’ve been great. If you want to use Constant Contact or whatever else, go ahead, but I use AWeber. For the rest of this course, all the examples in the site, the back end, the Screencast I’ll be showing will be using AWeber to show how it’s done. You should probably use AWeber so when you look at the back end, at least you know it looks the same.

That’s good but of course back in the day when you created that course, the FTC didn’t have a stringent of guidelines, now they do for disclosure. Very cool. Did you specify a percentage of what you’re making from affiliate versus your own products, is it 50/50 or 30/70? You don’t have to disclose it if you don’t want.

About 70% of my income comes from product that cost more than $2,000. I found that in the last few years, the biggest increase in my income came from adding high ticket products to the mix. I used to always sell products, low priced products, ebooks, video courses, selling $97, $47. I built a good business doing it for $40,000 a month but I didn’t really hit $60,000 a month until I started selling high ticket products, the Masterminds and the mentorship and that kind of stuff. I never did it before because A, They usually take the fulfilment, the fulfilment is difficult and the selling it, we generally require more personalized approach and I wasn’t into that kind of stuff. I didn’t really want to sell, get on the phone with the customer, talk to them and that kind of stuff.

I don’t want to talk anyway.

I want to live the Dot-Com lifestyle. Really, that’s what I do. I consider myself a lifestyle marketer. My blog talks about Living the Dot-Com Lifestyle which is time freedom, money freedom and location freedom. That’s the reason I never had the high ticket item onto the revenue mix because high ticket usually requires high service. If I was going to sell someone a $5,000 product, I need to talk to them face to face, I didn’t want to do that. What I ended up doing is I just hooked up with a company that allows me to license all the stuff and they did the fulfilling for me and I just send them the leads. The $100,000 mentorship, I actually don’t do it. They did a delivery.

I never had the high ticket item onto the revenue mix because high ticket usually requires high service. Click To Tweet

You’re not the person that meets with the…


Wow, that’s mind blowing.

Yes, but I get 25% commission from them.

Interesting. The person that they hook you up with, if you pay $100,000, is an outstanding internet marketer.

Oh yeah, he’s a $100 million company so yeah.

Wow, very clever.

This allows me to basically add high ticket items but also maintain my time freedom.

How many hours a day are you working?

On average, about two hours a day. I still maintain that. I did my blog, my original goal was two hours a day of blogging so I try to keep that. It’s actually less now because when I first started the blog, it was just me but now I have three writers who actually create content for me. Most of my content I create in a blog is more of the lifestyle blog, it’s usually meet the driver in John Chow videos, me going out to dinner, that kind of stuff. I’m just showing lifestyle. The writer, they would produce the more how to technical articles.

Did you already put in two hours a day and now this is hour three of us doing the interview or is this half of your workday, us being on Skype right now?

I like to batch things. When I say two hours a day, a lot of people figure I work two hours Monday, two hours Tuesday, two hours Wednesday, no, I don’t actually do it that way. That’s not very efficient so what I generally do is I generally take one day a week which is usually Monday, not my workday and I will just do one full workday where I would do multiple videos, I would time stamp all the blog post and basically get the whole thing ready for the entire week and that means then on the rest of the week I can pretty much not have to do anything I don’t want to.

It’s not Mondays. You’re kind of in a day off mode and I dragged you into the office, essentially.

Today, I actually did a couple of videos. We tried a new ramen restaurant so I did a vlog post, there’ll be a video vlog on this video review of this new ramen shop in Orange County.

How do you monetize videos like that? Is it for your YouTube channel and you have a different monetization strategy for YouTube?

The YouTube channel, lately I have been trying to develop my YouTube channel a lot more, put in a lot more effort into it. It makes money from the YouTube ads. Last month, I believe it did about $2,000 of YouTube advertising but that’s not where the real money is. The videos in YouTube are good lead driver, there’s lifestyle videos, I usually end it with some kind of call to action, especially when I’m talking about my internet marketing, more on the lifestyle blog where I’m eating out, not so much. There’s always a call to action on the description of the video, on the video itself where I would invite them to just download my free ebook on how I live the Dot-Com lifestyle. It’s a good lead driver. People watch my video, they download the ebook and the ebook is free and the ebook offers them entry level $49 product.

Awesome. I just interviewed Sean Cannell, I don’t know if you know him, he’s a YouTuber with a couple of really nice channels. One of them is How To Optimize Your YouTube Presence. Listeners, definitely check out that episode from Sean Cannell. Let’s talk a bit about if somebody’s still running AdSense, what do you recommend for them as a next step? Is it to optimize to get more AdSense revenue, you could probably talk about a few AdSense strategies or is it replace the AdSense with something else that’s going to generate more revenue?

I would probably look at replacing it. I realize that a lot of people don’t want to sell their own advertising. There’s a plugin I use called OIOpublisher Direct, oiopublisher.com. It’s a WordPress plugin. Basically, it allows you to sell your own ad space on your site. You can put an advertise here, they click on it and you take them to a page that shows all your ad layout and they can order it. That takes them to PayPal. They would need to have a PayPal subscription to pay for the ad, then they upload the ad onto your blog and then you get a notice, you just hit approve and the ad starts running. Instead of you going after the advertiser, basically this way, I just have that up there and while you’re waiting, while you’re waiting for an advertiser to come, they can show Google Ads for you so that will be your default ad. It’s just showing the Google Ad. If somebody wants to advertise, they can buy it. What I did was I looked at what I was making from the Google advertising and I just took the CPM rate I was getting and I just tripled it. I just tripled it, I figured because if they we’re going to buy advertising on my blog through Google, they will probably pay three times as much anyway because Google is going to take their cut. If they buy direct from me, I triple the price and once they ordered it, you could double or triple your Google income right there.

That’s very cool. That’s called OIOpublisher Direct.

Yup, OIOpublisher Direct. I think it’s $27. It’s a paid plugin, you pay one time.

Really? There’s no monthly charges?

No, it’s just a WordPress plugin.

That’s very cool. Do you have any strategies you recommend if somebody wants to optimize their AdSense Ad units to get more revenue like placements or writing content, whatever.

When I was running Google Advertising, I find that the highest click rate came on the 300 by 250 ad sites, the highest click rate came when you embedded right into the content of your blog post, I will wrap my blog post around the ad.

The ad basically is in the middle?

No, on the right side, flush right.

Oh, flush right of the main part of the page with the article in it.

Yeah and then the article would be wrapping around the box.

Yeah because if you put it over in the side navigator, hand column or whatever, it’s just kind of blending in with the word work, it’s not going to get nearly the clicks.

That’s right, that’s the number one click spot. The second click spot I find is that at the end of the article, right at the end, directly below at the end. Once they come to the end article, you want them to do something, what are we going to do? Well, click an ad.

Don’t you have something else that pays much better than clicking on an ad, like a prime spot? Your next call to action is get my free ebook or do my trip wire, yeah, of course that’s what you do.

At the end of all my blog posts is download my ebook, that’s what it said. If you’re just using Google Advertising or just advertising, that’s also a prime place for a Google Ad as well.

Yeah, I was just consulting with a client earlier today and they were showing me a competitor’s article that’s ranking number one and they’re ranking lower. The competitor, who’s very sophisticated, has a whole lead gen form underneath the article. There’s nothing to do at the end of their article. I’m like, “Hello?” What are they going to do now? They’re going to hit back and then do another search or something or go to another listing, that’s a dead end. Put a lead gen form just like your competitor does or I gave them a few other options too, definitely good advice. Any other AdSense tips?

I find that the color, if you make it the same as your blog’s color.

The background of the ad unit?

Yeah. The more you make it look like your native content, the higher the click rate.

Match the font, match the background color and have it blend in. Don’t put a big, thick line around the ad unit to separate it from the rest of the copy and all that. What about writing content specifically to fire up ads in the ad units that are in the ad blocks that are higher paying?

When ads first came out, we did that a lot. I even created a page just trying to get the keyword for the medical term for species cancer.

Oh, mesothelioma.

Exactly. I finally did it, I got it to show up. I told my friend, “Hey go to this page, see that? Is it a meso article? Click it.” I made $12.

Listeners, do not do this.

That was back then, I doubt you can probably trick the ad nowadays.

That’s funny. That’s AdSense. My daughter, my oldest daughter generated a lot of money off of AdSense when she was a teenager. Instead of making money flipping burgers or babysitting or anything like that, she was making passive income through AdSense. Really, it’s a great strategy to start with. It’s so easy to sign up and just slap some ad units on your page and start monetizing. My own daughter, a 14 year old kid can do it.

It’s a great way to start and great way to get your feet wet but don’t stop there. Once you get it going, I used to make $2 or $3 CPM on the page, these days my CPM is like up to $100 simply because I’m just optimizing it and getting as much revenue per user as possible.

Yeah, that’s a key point. Listeners, if you’re curious to learn more about getting your kids to make money, passive income, there’s a great episode on this podcast with my daughter. I interviewed her, Chloe Spencer, definitely check out that episode. I think you’ll enjoy it. She’s 25 now, all grown up. I’ll include links to all these things in the show notes for this episode too including the WordPress plugin to replace AdSense when you’re ready for that. How often do you recommend that people blog in order to have the momentum? You can’t just blog once a month and expect a lot outcome from that.

I find that a lot of people, when they first get into blogging, they think they’re going to get rich overnight or something like that. They get excited and they’re blogging every single day and then they realize they’re not making any money and then suddenly the frequency of a blog post that’s going down and then it goes down and then somebody clicks on their ads and they make some money, they’re going to start again, they stop blogging again and then they start going up and down, it’s kind of like on and off again. Of course, that doesn’t work. What I recommend is for you to pick a posting frequency and then stick to it for at least one year, at least a year. If you’re going to do once a day, then do it once a day at least for six months. If you can do once a week then stick to that schedule for the full duration. Don’t be an on again, off again. If I have to credit one of the biggest reason for my blog success, it was because I was just consistent on updating the blog. For the first five years of the blog’s life, I averaged 2.2 blog posts every single day. There was never a single day in the blog’s history from when I started till today where there hasn’t been at least one new blog post and that includes weekends, includes Christmas, it includes holidays, everything. I believe with this level of consistency, that’s a great deal of my success. Pick a posting frequency whether it’s one time a day, one time a week, two or three times a week and just stick to it and don’t deviate from it. Your readers, they’ll get used to a certain frequency and if they see you going on again, off again, they don’t know if you’re going to come up with something new or whatever. You want your blog to be part of their daily reading habits of your readers, basically.

Consistency and predictability so that they can rely on you. Same thing if it’s a podcast. If I were to not podcast every single week, if I didn’t have an episode maybe once in awhile, I took a week off, that would be terrible, you can’t do that with a blog either.

Yeah, even for YouTube, a lot of YouTubers I see, they’re always say like, “Hi guys, I upload videos every Tuesdays and Friday.” They’ll say that.

You don’t miss.

Expect a new episode every week or everyday. If you miss, you cannot miss and of course how you’re able to be consistent is to do batching. My workday is Monday, I would do multiple item and get it all timestamped. You can do that with your blog, you can do that with YouTube because YouTube has a timestamp feature as well. You can schedule video posts, you can schedule blog posts.

Yup and you can schedule your social media, Hootsuite, Buffer, whatever.

If you’re going on a vacation, I’ll be in Costa Rica on the 13th, everything is scheduled while I’m there. Even though I’ll be in Costa Rica, the blog will keep going, my videos will keep showing up and my social media will keep posting as well.

Awesome. I love Costa Rica. I just got married there in December. The Osa Peninsula is my favorite spot in Costa Rica. It’s one of the most biodensed parts of the world according to National Geographic.

A lot of bugs there too. The last time I was there I got bitten quite a bit.

There’s always a price to pay, right?


The batching, that’s critical. How about theming your days? Do you do anything like that? Mike Vardy who I had on my other podcast on Get Yourself Optimized, his podcast is called the Productivityist. He’s a productivity expert and he themes his days and he got me started theming my days so there’s certain days of the week that I do podcast episodes or podcast interviews. There’s certain days of the week that I do client calls, certain days that I do work on creating my courses and things like that. Do you do anything like that?

Not as much, simply because I guess what I do is pretty much the same stuff. I do the video post, I did a video post and my writers, they write the more technical posts. What I do notice is that my writers, when they’re writing, they pretty much got free reign as long as they stick to the vertical that they stick to, the blogging post, internet marketing post, the social media pos. I find that a lot of their posts, and I know they batch as well. When I look at my back end, I don’t see, oh, a post today, then a post on Wednesday, a post on Friday. More often, what I do see is like nothing, nothing, nothing then boom ten posts shows up; they batch as well. What I do notice is that whenever they read the article, I notice that it follows a certain theme like, they go, “For these ten blog posts, I’m going to talk about Twitter.” I did notice that they make themes types when they’re batching their post. I feel the same way as well, I know when I’m doing my video blogs and stuff, when I talk about one subject, I would tend to do a series of vlogs on that subject.

Are you familiar with the concept of having free days, focus days and buffer days? That’s a pretty cool thing. If you’re on a free day, you do not check email, you don’t do any kind of social media or anything, you have the day off. You’re sitting by the beach or whatever, sitting by the pool. Buffer days are where you’re doing the emails and scheduling things and lots of the little stuff that ends up destroying your day because if you were in flow doing a big video course that you’re creating and then you have to take a client call in the middle of it or whatever, that just really interrupts your flow so you stick on the little things in the buffer days and in the focus days are where you’re creating something big.

I don’t do that as much simply because Monday is my work day. I have one day on and six days off.

You have that. You have six free days and you have one focus day.

Yeah, one focus day.

You do a little bit of buffer days because sometimes you’ll do podcast interviews or something like you’re doing now.

Yeah, those are the buffer days. When I’m driving somewhere, I would do a driving episode but that’s multitasking I suppose. If I’m driving anywhere, might as well talk while I’m driving.

Is that dangerous when you’re thinking of stuff and you’re trying to also focus on the road?

I don’t think it’s any more dangerous than talking to a passenger.

Yeah but then the passenger is always watching the road too.

I already know what I’m going to talk about. I already have my topic before I got into the car. I say, “I’m going to answer a reader question that I got in email. This will be a good subject for driving with John Chow.” When I drive for lunch, I’m looking straight ahead, I’m not looking at the camera, the GoPro is aimed at me and I’m looking straight ahead. I’m just answering the question off the top of my head, it’s not rehearsed or anything like that. If the passenger asked me that question then I answer the question, it’s not anymore dangerous as talking to a passenger.

You do these as video blogs or vlogs. That reminds me of a podcast I really like. Russell Brunson has a podcast called Marketing In Your Car. What percentage of your traffic to your blog comes from organic, unpaid stuff versus paid?

Right now, both my YouTube channel and my blog is 100% organic.

100% organic, okay.

I don’t spend any money on paid advertising to promote the channel or the blog. For the blog, 60% comes from Google and the rest comes from referrals and bookmarks.

Have you thought about like is this a growth area that you could maybe do some Facebook advertising?

Definitely. I think what I’ll be adding is when someone comes to my blog, I’ll retarget them, that’s what I’ll be doing, I’ll drop cookie on them and I’ll just follow them across the internet with an ad of my picture saying, “I’m following you.” Stuff like that. Just to be different. “Come back.”

You are different. I remember getting your business card and it said, “I’m John Chow, bitch.” It’s so cool. You have that same tag line elsewhere too.

“Titles are for wimps.” “You don’t call me, I call you.” That’s my phone number, that’s what it says on my phone number.

It’s very appropriate. SEO clearly is part of your secret to success if you’re 100% organic. You’re not spending any money on paid traffic and you’re making the kind of money that you’re making which is incredible. What are doing you doing from an SEO standpoint? What’s the secret sauce without giving too much away?

Google follows people. If you can deliver value to your readers, Google will eventually find you. But that’s basically my opinion. I don’t do massive amounts of keywords research and stuff like that. I just tell my writers, “Just write for the audience. Don’t worry about keyword density or any of that stuff, just write.” Once in awhile, I will change that title. That’s about it. If I see something, this could be a better key, this could be a better title, I will just change that title but I don’t change the content, I just look at the title and that’s about it. I just make sure I run the all in one SEO plugin but that’s basically about it. I have a good domain. When I first started, I was trying to really push things to see how far it can go. You might have heard the story but I was actually nooked from Google for like two years.

If you can deliver value to your readers, Google will eventually find you.

I did not know that.

I Google bombed them.

What did you do?

Basically, I wanted to rank for making money online. I wanted to rank for making money online. What I did was I asked people to review my blog, review my blog on your blog but link to me with the phrase make money online. After I get about ten reviews, I will put together here are the blogs that reviewed me, I’ll link back to you. I got 600 bloggers linked to me with the term make money online. I became number one for the term, of course that’s because of the few people. Basically, I was flaunting it. I say, “Hey, I did it. I’m gaming Google.”

That put the target on your back.

They nooked me off the search engine. When you search for John Chow, I was not there, you got John Cow was the parody site. That was number one. I was off Google for three years. That became another case study. The other case study was Can You Build a Blog Without the Help of Google?

Could you?

Yeah, I did. I survived two years without Google.

On Ramen noodles or did you actually make decent money during those three years?

Oh yeah, it still continued, it was still doing great.

That’s awesome. One more quick question. Any favorite conferences, books, online trainings or whatever besides your own that you want to recommend?

I always go to Affiliate Summit, that’s basically my favorite conference and I always see you there, it’s always a lot of fun.

That’s a great conference. I’ve actually had Shawn Collins, a co founder of Affiliate Summit on the show. Listeners, that’s another episode to check out. I will put a link in the show notes to that as well. Affiliate Summit, great conference. You’re the one who told me when we did a joint webinar early in the week or last week and you said that my session at the last Affiliate Summit was the highest rates session, beat yours out, I’m sorry but not sorry.

My session got the highest attendants, you got the number one for rating, I got number one for people.

That’s funny. Are you making that up or you’re serious?

No, I’m serious.


Affiliate Summit launch different rankings or different ratings. The highest rated, highest attendants and that kind of stuff.

What’s your favorite book?

Right now I am reading No Excuses by Brian Tracy. It’s basically a time management, psychology book saying to get things done, you got no excuses. That seems to be the theme anyway.

That’s a great way to end this. I’m a big fan of Brian Tracy. One of my favorite books that I read of his is called Eat That Frog and the concept is just simply to take the thing that you’re procrastinating and do it first in the day. Just get it over with.

I like the title because frogs are pretty tasty. If you suddenly become a non-vegetarian, I recommend froglings, they’re actually quite nice.

Okay, I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you so much, John, this was awesome and a lot of fun and I hope listeners got a lot of takeaways. I’m sure they did. If listeners, you wanted to go check out the show notes, also, there’s a checklist of actions to take that were put together from the episode itself. That’s at marketingspeak.com along with the show notes and a full transcript of the episode. If you want to follow John, of course, his website is johnchow.com and we’ll put links to his YouTube channel and all that in the show notes as well. Thank you so much, John. It was such a pleasure having you on the show.

Awesome. Thank you, Stephan.

Thanks. Listeners, we’ll catch you on the next episode. This is Stephan Spencer signing off.

Important Links:

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ What is something I enjoy writing about that I can turn into a blog?

☑ Take an inventory: Can I teach myself how to do it or should I buy a book or training course?

☑ Brainstorm ideas to blog about. Are people going to be more interested in what I ate for dinner or what they can learn from me?

☑ What affiliate programs are in my industry? Pick a few to advertise on my blog.

☑ What packages can I sell directly to my website visitors? Will I sell a product or a service? A good indicator of what resonates is checking to see what affiliate products they’re purchasing.

☑  Find ways to push traffic to my affiliate sites to build strong partnerships with affiliates who advertise on my blog.

☑ Consider vlogging on YouTube. Be sure to include a call to action at the end of every video, such as an
invitation to visit my site or download a free ebook.

☑ Rather than using Google AdSense for ad space, check into programs like OIOpublisher, a WordPress plugin that allows me to sell my own ad space on my blog.

☑ Make my ad unit look like my blog. The more it looks like my native content, the higher the click through rate.

☑ Once I’ve started making money with ads, continue optimizing the page by focusing on colors and placement of ads.

About John Chow

The Original Dot Com Mogul – Author, Blogger, Speaker, Father, Entrepreneur and Dot Com Mogul

John Chow rocketed onto the blogging scene when he showed the income power of blogging by taking his blog from making zero to over $40,000 per month in just two years. And he did it working only 2 hours a day.

Currently, JohnChow.com is one of the biggest blogs on the Internet, with over 200,000 active daily readers and followers. John Chow dot Com is ranked number 16 on the AdAge Power 150 list and number 1 in the list of the Top 50 Canadian Internet Marketing Blogs. He also is the founder and CEO of TTZ Media, Inc.

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