Interview with Patrick Hundt on Online Businesses and Entrepreneurship

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Dieser Tage löse ich meinen allerersten auf WordPress betriebenen Blog auf, den ich damals unter dem Namen "Batrepreneur" (Batman+Entrepreneur) im Sommer 2013 ins Leben gerufen habe. Der Blog, der sich im Kern mit den Themen Entrepreneurship, Online Marketing und Blogging befasst hat, bietet auch einige Querverweise zum Thema Sales. Meine sechs spannendsten und für die Leser wertvollsten Beiträge aus meinem alten Blog möchte ich hier noch einmal auf Sales Pitch veröffentlichen. Lange bevor Patrick Hundt ein renommierter "Reise-Blogger" wurde und sogar auf dem SPIEGEL Platz für seine Artikel bekam, gab er ein Interview zum Thema Online Geld zu verdienen, den Herausforderungen von (Reise-)Bloggern, sowie Entrepreneurship und dem Umgang mit Rückchlägen. Hier folgt das Interview aus dem Oktober 2013:

Hi Patrick! Please introduce yourself to the audience and tell them who you are and what you are doing in a few sentences.

Patrick: Hi Denny, thanks for inviting me to this interview. I’m what people might call a digital nomad which means I currently travel a lot and earn my living while traveling. I write about this life style on my blog 101 Places.

Let’s take a look back: In 2008 you were building up the online marketing agency Projecter together with a colleague. What have been the main reasons for you starting an independent business?

P: I learned a lot about Online Marketing between 2006 and 2008 and I figured out different ways to earn more than just a living with this knowledge. I just had to put a lot of effort into it but in the end I would be free to do whatever I like and even earn more money with it than in my day job. To me that was a no brainer.

I had already started a small business on the side while I was still employed. This income allowed me to make decisions that were free of worries about money. Then I hooked up with a colleague of mine and founded the agency.

In April 2012 you described on your blog how it has been leaving your own company after 4 years. To me it felt like it was a big milestone for your current life. How much guts did it take for you to leave Projecter behind and start with something new all over again?

P: People always say that is has been a brave decision to leave Projecter. However to me it felt like there was no alternative. Back then I had issues with my business partner and we didn’t know how to solve them anymore. Therefore I had two options: Being frustrated every day in my own company or leaving.

Again, I was free to make that decision because I managed to save some money over the years so I didn’t have to worry about that too much.

At the end of your post you said you finally figured out two passions of yours: business and travelling. You wrote you were looking forward to see how you can combine both of them. What is your conclusion 16 months later?

P: I’m still trying to figure that one out. However I’m getting closer. Since I wrote that I have put a lot of effort into my travel blog. Now it’s starting to pay off. Traffic is increasing every week. Thus the blog became more interesting to advertisers. I also sell travel equipment through amazon and I wrote a few backpacking ebooks that I sell on my website.

I’m not making a living with it though. Not yet.

Why was going back to an office life and working in a 9 to 5 job not an option for you?

P: I have not been employed in a 9 to 5 job for six years. I can not even imagine going back to that. If I really had to, I would, but I don’t have to.

I enjoy working and I believe that everyone does. However in most companies that tends to change because people are not free in their decisions and they have to follow goals that are not their own. And then there’s office politics and all that stuff which makes people dislike their jobs.

How do you actually gain money through your websites and what is the most effective method that you would recommend for starters?

P: Most of the money I have made through Affiliate Marketing. I’ve set up a lot of websites that are mainly commercial which means people visit with the intention of actually buying something. This is when affiliate marketing works best. However I feel this business has already passed its climax. Most affiliates get their traffic through Google but Google doesn’t really see a point in affiliates. Why would they list an affiliate that sells books when they could just list amazon instead? As an affiliate you would have to provide an additional benefit for Google to like you. That’s hard to do.

I think the most effective method today is to provide really good content. You should work on something that you actually like doing and know much about. Then setup a blog, write a book, produce a podcast or videos, become a consultant in your area and then who knows what comes next? It is a lot of work but there’s no easy way to the money and I would say it’s the only way for starters.

What tips would you give to someone who wants to become a professional travel blogger?

P: I have only been travel blogging for 8 months now but I think there are two stages that every serious travel blogger needs to go through:

1. When you start your blog nobody will read it. In order to attract visitors you will have to connect with other travel bloggers. Start commenting in their blogs, follow their social media channels, ask questions, provide input. Most importantly: They need to appear on your blog and you need to appear on theirs. Therefore invite them to round up posts or interviews. Of course you will have to write good content in your blog. If they like it, they will share it and more people (mostly other bloggers) will learn about your blog.

2.Most bloggers never make it beyond stage one. They will have a decent amount of visitors which mainly consists of other travel bloggers. But now it’s time for you to break out of that circle. You will have to stop writing content for them. You have to write for a much bigger target group: People that do not travel most of the time. You can either provide content that is very useful to them or you could provide content that inspires them (or both). Useful content will draw visitors through search engines for years. Inspiring content will be shared immediately and thus increase your audience.

What are the special challenges for a travel blogger compared to other bloggers that want to gain income through their blog?

P: I’m not sure what kind of challenges other bloggers are facing. I never cared about blogging before I started doing it.

I think that travel blogging is harder to monetize than people might think. Travel is a huge business but even though we provide a lot of information we don’t earn a big share of that business. Maybe it’s because most people feel information on the internet should be free.

You describe yourself as a digital native. Would you consider yourself also as an Entrepreneur, if yes, how much Entrepreneur is in you?

P: I never use the word Entrepreneur but I think the description fits me well. I really enjoy running businesses and I have been doing it for seven years. Now I even try to see traveling as a business. Other people have a hard time doing that. To me it feels natural.

What makes a person being a good Entrepreneur to your opinion?

P: Smelling business everywhere. Many people say „you don’t have to make money with everything“. They might not be natural Entrepreneurs.

Of course there’s also hard work and creativity involved.

A lot of Entrepreneurs are working on different projects and start ups. For sure, not all of them are going to be successful in the end. Do you believe that failure is essential for entrepreneurial success?

P: Well, life is trial and error. You try something and if it doesn’t work you try something else. All great inventions have been made either this way or by accident. Why would it be different for start ups?

However I don’t believe you need to fail on a big scale to be successful. Mostly I wouldn’t even call it a failure but just an experience. For example I had to leave my own company but it doesn’t feel like I failed. I just tried something, it didn’t work as I had hoped it would and now I try something new.

Thank you very much for the interview Patrick. The last words belong to you.

P: You don’t have to travel to be happy. You don’t have to be an Entrepreneur either. Just take your time thinking about what it is that you would like to do and then do just that. But beware: People will try to hold you back. You will have to make it without their approval. They mean well though.

Short-Biography: Patrick writes about traveling and working online on his blog 101 Places. When he is not on the road Patrick lives in Berlin, Germany.

The original interview was published October 1, 2013.

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