Q&A: Blogger Srinivas Rao on Juggling Online Projects

April 30, 2012

Before we get started, check out Only72’s semi-annual sale (affiliate link). This is that mega-offer where you pay $100 for $1,000 worth of products on entrepreneurship. And this round includes a hard-cover copy of Chris Guillebeau’s soon-to-launch book, The $100 Startup, delivered to your door. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Oh, except it DOES. If you buy the package, I’ll throw in a copy of my eguide, How to Take a Career Break to Travel (which normally sells for $29). Just email me saying you bought the package through my link, and I’ll reply with your copy of the eguide.

Now for our Q&A!

Today we’ve got writer, blogger and podcaster Srinivas Rao. His big project, which he’s turning into a business, is BlogcastFM (which had me as a guest a while back). But he’s also been incredibly successful at growing his own blog, The Skool of Life. (I particularly love his inspirational posts.) We’ve got a lot to learn from him!

Blogger Srinivas Rao

Blogger Srinivas Rao

TTW: Thanks for joining us, Srinivas! You've got your hands in so many projects. Can tell you us about the two or three that take up the majority of your time and energy?

At the moment the two that consume most of my time are The Skool of Life, a blog what you should have learned in school but never did, and BlogcastFM, a show where we interview bloggers, authors, and social media experts who share their strategies for how they’ve grown.

Which of those projects pay the rent? If none, how do you make your income?

BlogcastFM doesn’t necessarily pay the rent, it does contribute to income. We’re really lucky to have Livefyre as our sponsor. They provide a fantastic commenting system for bloggers so it’s a really great fit as a sponsor. I also do freelance work and produce podcasts for a few other organizations.

Do you have different goals with Skool of Life than with BlogcastFM? Which has the bigger subscriber base?

I think the goals for the two are definitely very different. One audience is primarily bloggers, while the other is people who may or may not have any interest in starting a blog.

With one audience (Skool of Life), it’s just about growing the reader base and providing inspiring content. With BlogcastFM, it’s about providing as much tactical advice as possible. In fact, if there’s one way I’d describe it, it’s this: BlogcastFM is a media company and the podcast is just the first form of media that we started with. The Skool of Life is a blog. It’s hard to say which one is bigger since we measure one in downloads, and the other in visits. BlogcastFM gets about 70,000 downloads a month and has been growing steadily, while The Skool of Life gets around 50,000 monthly visits.

Can you point us to three BlogcastFM interviews that would be particularly helpful for The Traveling Writer community?

Sure!

Tell us about the book you want to write! You're planning to self-publish, right?

I’d been toying with the idea of a book for a really long time since I’ve interviewed so many authors on BlogcastFM. But I was really stuck on what the theme would be, what the title would be, but it kind of just hit me like a ton of bricks that the core message of what I write about is “what you should have learned in school but never did.”

There are lots of personal development blogs out there, but once you figure out that core message everything becomes much easier. I am planning to self-publish because I want to get this message out into the world.

You're also doing something unique by asking for feedback from readers AS you write. Can you explain how you're doing that and what you're hoping to gain from it?

This actually was inspired by a conversation from the founders of Leanpub who have created a platform that allows you to publish in progress books. They enable you to import your entire blog into the platform and in a few minutes you have the whole blog as a book.

But when you’ve been blogging for three years, that’s a giant mess. So I spent a few weeks really stripping it down to what would actually be a book. It’s what they call a minimum viable book. So it’s not finished, but it can be published.

One of the reasons that I decided to just get it into the hands of my readers was because it didn’t make any sense to write a book without asking the people who it’s going to impact the most, the readers of my blog. I wanted to write something that I knew they would want and feedback allows me to shape the book accordingly.

You and your BlogcastFM partner recently began publishing an online magazine. Can you tell us why you decided to go that route?

LOOK magazine is probably one of my absolute favorite things that we’re working on. It was driven by a few different things. First my business partner David is just an incredible visual designer. Everything he puts together is a work of art so I wanted to leverage that skill.

The other part of it is that we wanted to attract readers who may not listen to our podcast, but prefer written content. And we get to do really cool cover stories like the one from this month about the founder of Milk Made Ice Cream. We also have plans to sell ads in the magazine.

One of the things I love about you is that your digital endeavors are a sort of second career for you. What did you do before blogcastfm? What are your professional aspirations now?

I spent a large chunk of my career in sales working for market research organizations like Forrester and Nielsen. But I really hated it, so I went back to business school to push the reset button in my career. As far as professional aspirations, I’m hoping to turn what I do with BlogcastFM into my full-time living, and build what I like to affectionately refer to as a media empire.

What advice would you have for someone who wants to change professional gears like you did?

Business school is a really expensive way to do it. If you’re somebody who has a full-time job it’s going to require lots of self motivation. Being comfortable is a real trap. But if you’re willing to hack at it a little bit every single day, you build momentum and eventually a snowball turns into an avalanche.

So my advice is build your castle one brick at a time.

Anything else you want to share with our readers that would be helpful or useful to bloggers and writers?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It will save you lots of trial and error.

Thanks, Srinivas, for joining us!

And don’t forget to check out that Only72 sale — It’s only available for 72 hours.

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