Ryan Biddulph has an inspiring story to tell:
He went from being a security guard at a shipping terminal to leading the kind of life that most of us can only dream of.
And he did through blogging.
Ryan has spent the last 5 years island hopping through South East Asia and the Pacific with his wife. He blogs from places like Fiji, Phuket in Thailand, Jimbaran in Bali, Playa Potrero in Costa Rica, to name just a few.
His blog, Blogging From Paradise, has become very successful and he has a list of over 60,000 readers.
Where were you born and where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I was born in New Jersey, in the United States. My childhood was fairly average. Dad worked an office job. Mom was a nurse and worked weekends. Me and my sisters attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school.
Overall, compared to much of the world, it was a comfortable, pretty cool experience.
Before you started blogging, what field were you working in?
I was a security guard at a shipping terminal. Which is about as far from blogging one can get. The job helped me meet a colorful cast of characters from all over the world, between the folks working the ships to many co-workers from the shipping terminal.
What was it that led you to start a blog?
My wife Kelli noted how you could make money on the internet, which was a revelation to me in 2008.
I only knew how to check my email and visit espn.com so this idea of making money online floored me.
I wanted to be free of the 9-5 - or 4-12 - and also wanted to express myself creatively, so blogging seemed like a cool way to kill those 2 birds with one cyber stone 🙂
How long did it take before your blog became a viable business?
This is *such* a tough question to answer Rob.
Only because I pay so little attention to money, and the less I pay attention to money, the more I make LOL!
Maybe 3 years? That sounds about right.
I am not an outcomes guy through. The money is extra. I use it to buy stuff. But I devote 99% of my energy to having fun and serving, and 1% to thinking about what I am getting through blogging.
I learned this 99-1 ratio from happy billionaires like Richard Branson, following him on social media, and neatly enough I was featured on his blog too.
What kept you going during those times when it felt like nothing was working?
A few things. I always loved being free more than I feared doing uncomfortable stuff. I also figured out how if you trusted in something bigger than you, or, in the process of building a blog, the times when nothing appeared to be working didn't bother me as much.
I learned not to trust in appearances, or illusions (aka "appears" like nothing is working) and decided instead to trust in my passion, my devotion to my craft, my willingness to follow my fun and my generosity in serving other bloggers.
In succeeding as a blogger, did you have any mentors? Who has been your most important influence?
Zac Johnson and Darren Rowse are 2 guys who I have followed diligently.
My most important influence was my love for blogging and traveling because that passion, and my desire to blog mainly for fun, pulled me through resistance.
Mentors can lead you and guide you but your inner world - aka the passion, or your willingness to blog mainly for fun - is where you either succeed or fail as a blogger. Most bloggers struggle to make pennies because they look for motivators outside of themselves. Mentors, money, fame, etc. The few who kill it, rocking it out to epic levels, draw inspiration, from their passion, and that inspiration always comes from within.
What was the turning point in your blogging journey? What was your breakthrough moment when it all came together, when you discovered how to succeed as a blogger?
There were thousands Rob so I cannot pick one. Thousands of turning points, thousands of breakthroughs.
I focused less on a defining moment and more on *the moment.*
It's less about adding labels to any event and more about: having fun, having fun, having fun, serving, helping, being generous, helping folks and honing your skills.
I was featured on Virgin, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fox News, Positively Positive, Lifehack and I spoke at NYU, but these were not breakthroughs or turning points. I already had clarity before these cool events occurring. I knew I was good 🙂
I feel grateful for those accomplishments and did celebrate them, but I see all outcomes and accomplishments I achieve through blogging the way you would see a tiny mile marker on a highway, as you fly by it driving 80 MPH. You see it, note it as a spot on your journey, and minus a quick happy dance, on to the next fun opportunity to give, to serve, and to move forward with a smile on my face. Not because of what I am getting. But because of the joy I experience in giving.
In your experience, what’s the secret to building a long and stable relationship with your readers?
Staying on topic has been huge. By blogging about 1 specific topic week in and week out, your readers will return every week because they know what to expect, and see you as a specialist, not a generalist.
Responding to every blog comments has helped me build our community too. Real human beings are sharing their thoughts, so until you get 100 to 200 comments or more per post, I'd respond to every one. Even if it's 1-2 words, how Neil Patel does it.
I also comment on some of my commentor's blogs to fortify our friendships.
Adding humor to my blog posts helps lighten the energetic load for my readers, meaning, most folks are dealing with enough stress and worry in their lives that they want to come back to Blogging From Paradise for smart blogging tips and perhaps some humorous tale of my bodily functions on a bus ride through Myanmar (don't ask).
In running your blogging business, are there any online tools you simply couldn’t do without?
WordPress.org is really the ultimate tool for me. I am not a tools guy so this is my chief, go-to tool, that many struggling bloggers on Blogspot and Tumblr and other free platforms totally ignore, to their cyber peril.
Toss in Tweetdeck and SocialOomph as both are helpful for social media engagement and scheduling.
What’s the best blogging advice you ever received?
Follow your fun.
Almost all bloggers dive into this game looking to get something, which is a fear-based, strained, limiting, not too fun approach to blogging.
By blogging mainly for fun, I already have my reward when the work is done. I had fun answering these questions. The work was the reward. The work was play. Ditto for my 3 guest posts written today and my blog commenting and my email interactions and podcast published and 3 live videos published on YouTube, Periscope and Facebook.
When you're blogging for fun you are in the perfect energetic space to drive traffic and make money because all this stuff will feel like extra, or a bonus, or icing on the cake, and this is the exact attitude you want to take to become super duper successful in your niche.
When you are so focused on giving with love, having fun and enjoying the ride that you forget about the getting, darn does the getting (money, traffic, comments, business partnerships) become so much easier.
Thanks Ryan. That was an amazing interview!
One of the things that stood out for me was that in the end, it's your own ability to blog just for the fun of it that determines whether you succeed. That's a really good point.
I also liked your point about a certain mindset where people focus too much on what they they can get out of blogging. I agree with that. It reminds me of some advice by Henry Junttila to first year bloggers in a roundup I did a few months ago.
He said: "Find what makes your heart sing, because when you love what you do, it shines through in your content"
Thanks again, Ryan. You've given us some great insights!
To get find out more about Ryan and get more of his blogging tips, visit the very popular Blogging From Paradise.