Guest Appearance on Jim Wang’s MicroBlogger Podcast

It is clear that I’m unable to maintain this blog as I’d like to, but I can still use it to share some cool stuff . . .

Today, I just wanted to point out that I did a fun interview for the MicroBlogger Podcast with my friend, Jim Wang.

The show, titled, How Josh Dorkin Attracted 160,000+ to the BiggerPockets Real Estate Community will give you some insight into the growth of BiggerPockets . . . check it out!

Power in Numbers: Building Your Startup’s Team

For many years I’ve worked tirelessly to build BiggerPockets.com up with a team that consisted of a programmer, and myself (my wife does the books, so I can’t ignore her important role) — a team that most would call LEAN!

While he wrote code, I handled every other component of the business — sales, marketing, PR, business development, strategy, community development, seo, lead editor, writer, and more. (I also don’t want to forget to mention our awesome volunteer moderators and writing staff) I’ve put in countless hundred hour weeks and even went over 6 years without taking a single day off — including weekends and holidays. In other words, I’ve worked my ass off to get where my company is, and put a ton of importance on hard work, hustle, and determination.

I’ve lived and breathed the life of a solopreneur, and while I wouldn’t give up that experience for the world, things have begun to change for us and I just wanted to share my thoughts on that transition.

Before I do, lets look at some of the positives and negatives of the solopreneur life:

Positives of Being Solopreneur:

  • You don’t have to answer to anyone
  • You don’t have to deal with the drama that comes with partners or co-founders
  • You don’t have to worry about the headaches that come with employees
  • You can work when you want, how your want, where you want

Negatives of Being a Solopreneur:

  • You don’t have anyone to take over when something goes wrong
  • You don’t have anyone vested in the company to share ideas with or get advice from
  • You have to do almost EVERYTHING!

I can go on and on with the negatives, but I think the last point is the most important one . . . Doing everything is exhausting. Furthermore, when we have to do as many tasks as a solopreneur has, it is simply impossible to do all those things well. You just can’t be an expert at everything!

Are We a Company Now?

Last November I elected to hire a consultant to help me examine the business and spent a pretty penny doing it — it was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. As a result of working with him, I hired our first full-time employee, improved our business by eliminating poorly performing elements, and started a new exciting phase of our startup’s growth.

Over the first quarter of the year, we saw AMAZING growth on the website, almost doubling monthly traffic over what it was before bringing on employee #1. We’ve also seen revenues grow, content increase, community growth increase, and a massive increase in productivity. I’ve begun to work FAR more on the business than in it, and that has been great for the company.

Let me reiterate — I am now spending my time as CEO of my company working ON the company instead of always managing the little details that can easily eat up a day. I can’t tell you how liberating that is. I actually took a day off recently, and I definitely need to let go a little more . . . I’ll get there!

I’ve used my newly found time to bring in other consultants and contractors, including an advertising and media specialist, who has helped me completely re-think how we work with advertisers. We just put out a new Media Kit (If you’re interested in advertising on BiggerPockets click here) and will be using the consultant to deal with many of the tasks that go with working with our advertisers.

Startup Tip: Hiring Experts to do things you’re not great at is Essential

The ad side of the business was definitely one of our weak spots, and getting the vast majority of the headaches associated with it off my plate, again freed me up.

We Have a Startup Team Now!

In order to further build the business, I realized that we need more development help, and this past week we brought on a new developer to the team — yep we’re a TEAM! This solopreneur has given up his old ways of working alone and now has a team that includes:

  • CEO — That’s me!
  • Lead Developer
  • Junior Developer
  • Head of Content Development & Community
  • Advertising Sales
  • Book keeper, moderation team, writing staff, legal & accounting, server

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be growing the team. Watching the increased output, productivity, and growth is extraordinary, and I’m ecstatic to bring on even more staff as we move forward.

Share your experience growing your startup company’s team in the comments below . . . I love hearing how others are progressing as well!

Photo: Hamed Saber

Timing is Everything for a Startup: Managing Multiple News Releases in a Short Period of Time

In the next few weeks, I’ll be faced with managing the following important newsworthy events:

  • BiggerPockets crossing the 100,000 member milestone.
  • Launching a MAJOR upgrade to BiggerPockets including new homepage and some great new features (TBA shortly).
  • Announcing the outcome of a MAJOR, top secret project that BiggerPockets has been working on with a soon-to-be-named partner.

While these are all amazing developments, they bring with them challenges . . . particularly in managing timing.

Perfect Just Doesn’t Exist in the Real World

If the world were perfect, we’d be able to launch the upgrade mentioned above at the exact same time that we hit the 100,000 member mark, and could include the upgrade as part of our news release on the event. We’d follow that exciting announcement with the news release about the “top secret project” shortly thereafter. If we could time it perfectly, we’d be able to gain maximum impact for these three important events.

Unfortunately, as anyone in business knows, product launches don’t always stick to timelines. After working on this upgrade for months, it looks like we’ll probably not be able to release at the same time we hit 100k. This is certainly a disappointment, but we’ll find a way to manage the PR side and will use the inability to get the timing perfect to our benefit, regardless. Instead of two releases, we may just have to put out three, but that’s a discussion that I need to have (yesterday) with my PR advisors.

It looks like we’ll be working overtime over the coming 2-3 weeks, and I hope that these events help us to get out word that over the past few years we’ve built a site that over 10 million people have visited, but few in the tech community may actually know about. If all goes well, that will change soon…

Wish us luck!

Dead and Broken Links: Time for a Clean up!

I just finished running a broken link check on our BiggerPockets Blog and it seems that in the 6 months that have passed since the last check, we’ve accumulated almost 500 dead links.

The vast majority of the dead links were from:

  1. Links to news articles that no longer exist on major sites like CNN, Yahoo News, etc.
  2. Comment links from people whose websites no longer exist.
  3. Pings from blog articles that no longer exist.

Additionally, there are quite a few links to articles that have been moved because the website changed their link/directory structure.

SEO Tip: If you’re not using 301 redirects to send visitors to the new location of your content, you’re losing traffic, link juice, and potentially new links from the same sites that have to remove the dead links that you failed to upkeep.

The bottom line is, help keep the web clean by making sure your old, non-functional links point somewhere other than a 404 page. And if you don’t, at least make sure you’ve got a good 404 page that’s useful and memorable

In case you’re wondering how to find and fix those links, here’s a great writeup.

Is Healthcare a BFD — Big Fucking Deal? Ask President Obama

I love politics. I love talking about politics. I love debating about politics. But rarely do I write about it. That might start to change.

We’re all human and a casual slip of the tongue happens all the time by world leaders. That said, one of the things that we ask of our leaders is that they be role models for the rest of us. With that in mind, I saw something today that really turned me off . . .

Coming off of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on Obama’s Health Care Act (aka Obamacare), apparently our President — leader of the free world — decided that it was time to not only gloat, but also to do so crassly via Twitter with the following Tweet:

And needed to toot his own horn again with this fine example for the youth of America:

Is the Court’s decision a BFD (Big Fucking Deal)? Absolutely.
Does everyone in America know that? Absolutely.
Was the President’s BFD tweet appropriate? No!
Was the “I did it and you couldn’t” tweet to our former leaders necessary? No.

This public gloating degrades not only President Obama, but also the White House itself. Presidents always pat themselves on the back a little, but the manner in which this was done, I believe, is below the office. It stinks of the kind of trash talk that you might expect in the WWE, not from our most important representative.

I don’t care what your political beliefs are . . . this is simply not the kind of thing that we expect demand of our President.

You got your win Mr. Obama. Now it is time to show the country a little class and apologize for your “in your face” message.

Why You Should Track Your Social Media Accounts

I recently wrote a guest post on Inman Next titled, “Is Your Social Media Account Doing You More Harm Than Good?” where I talk about the dangers of having social media accounts that you aren’t monitoring. The piece generated some controversy, and I even appeared to offend a slew of users of Empire Avenue (thanks to a crafty demonstration of the site’s power by Scott Allen).

I raise the issue of the article because of two individuals who are apparently doing exactly what I recommended — they are purging accounts. Normally, I’d applaud that.

Here’s the problem

Both of these people contacted me this week to nicely request DEMAND that we close their accounts on BiggerPockets. Now this is not unusual, but what makes these two people different is that supposedly someone else created an account on our site in their names.

Such occurrences certainly happen online all the time, and when it does, I absolutely can understand why someone would be mad. I’d be furious. That said, both of these emails came from people who had either created the accounts themselves or outsourced the creation and use of the accounts to an assistant of some sort.

Of course, I know this because, not only do we track IPs, (and the IP of the sender’s emails matched the IP of someone who accessed the account), but in order for an account to be active, a user needs to verify their email address by clicking on a link in an email that is sent at the creation of their account (and both accounts were verified by someone who clicked the link in their inbox).

So we know that they created and accessed their accounts, but according to them, someone else must have created these accounts. They clearly forgot that they had created their account, and took it a step further by being nasty to us.

We of course, closed the accounts for these two users, but I just wanted to share the story with you as a reminder to keep track of those accounts.

Tracking Your Social Media Accounts

If you’re unable to remember all the accounts that you open online, create a database for those accounts. Simply create three columns with the site’s name, URL, and your username, and each time you create a new account, add it to the list.

This is important for a few reasons:

  1. It allows you to do what I suggest in the Inman article, and helps track those accounts you may want to purge from time to time.
  2. Looking at the list can serve as a reminder of different networks that you may not have been active on in a while and may serve as an impetus to engage.
  3. It is a great reference for all those usernames you’ve got.
  4. It helps you stay organized . . . need I say more?

Do you have any other reasons for tracking your online presence? Share them in the comments below.

Photo: Pithawat Vachiramon

Holy Cow! I’m Throwing a Conference: BiggerPockets REI Summit 2012 in Denver

The announcement came two weeks ago, but since then I’ve been so swamped with getting my act together and with travel for the Thanksgiving holidays, that I didn’t have a chance to mention it here.

On March 23-24, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center I am going to be throwing the first BiggerPockets REI Summit. This is going to be a ground-breaking event for the real estate industry — an conference designed for a national crowd of investors with no upsell, no back of the room nonsense, no “guru” BS!

As most of you probably know already, one of the reasons I founded BiggerPockets is that I wanted a place where I could discuss real estate without worrying that some self-anointed “guru” was going to constantly sell me their “secrets.” We’ve built an incredible community that is unmatched in the space, and which is run under the same founding principles today. This Summit is designed to do for live real estate investing events what our site did for the online space.

I’m very proud of what we’re trying to do, and I have gotten an enormous amount of support from many of the most credible businesses and people in real estate.

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to try and spread the word, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted as things continue to progress.

Meanwhile . . .
Buy Your Tickets and Join Us March 2012 at the Conference

September Google AdSense Payments Delayed: Finally, An Answer . . .

I just got the following email from Google regarding the delay of payment that I and many others have been experiencing as it pertains to our September 2011 earnings. I’m glad to hear that there is a resolution to the matter and I’m sure that I’m not alone in looking forward to the one-time mid-month payment.

Thank you Google!

Hi,

We’re writing to follow up with some important updates about your AdSense account. A recent bug affected the earnings and payments of some publishers who have Affiliate Network and/or YouTube listed as an “Active product” under the “Account Settings” page in their account.

While your aggregate September and October earnings are correct, you’ve probably noticed that they aren’t displaying properly on your Payments page. Most accounts affected by this issue will display September and October earnings as a single “September earnings” line-item on the Payments page. For example, if you received $50.00 of earnings in September and $60.00 of earnings in October, you’ll see a single line item that reads: “Earnings (Sep 1 – Sep 30) – $110.00.” As a result, while it might appear that your October earnings are missing, they’re actually displayed as part of your September earnings. Unfortunately, your September and October 2011 earnings will permanently display in this way. This is a one-time discrepancy, and moving forward, all future monthly earnings should be displayed correctly.

You can verify the total amount of your unpaid balance and estimate your monthly earnings totals by customizing a report on the Performance Reports page of your account. Please keep in mind that as usual, estimated earnings may include earnings that were subsequently removed due to invalid activity. Therefore, your estimated earnings may not exactly match the sum that appears on your Payments page.

For all active accounts that experienced a payment delay and whose September and October earnings exceeded the payment threshold, we will send a special mid-November payment. This payment will include all of your unpaid earnings from September and October, replacing the November payment that would have typically gone out in late November. To ensure that you’re eligible to receive this payment, please log into your AdSense account as soon as possible and remove any holds.

Going forward, your earnings should be paid out according to our normal payment schedule. If your November 30th unpaid balance exceeds the payment threshold, your next payment will be issued in late December.

We take all issues affecting your earnings and payments very seriously and apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused. Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding throughout this process.

Sincerely,
The Google AdSense Team

Is Social Media Replacing Blogging? Will Micro-Blogging Destroy Blogs?

It is always great to have the opportunity to share your knowledge with others, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do so at BlogWorld. As a panelist on the topic of Promoting Your Blog in the Age of Social Media, I dealt with many questions on promoting a corporate blog and using social media to do so. Overall, the attendees of our session saw the benefits of blogging, and of using social media to promote their blogs.

Before we spoke, the good folks at WebProNews (Abby Johnson) did an interview with me that I wanted to share with you on whether social media was going to somehow replace blogs. There are some good tidbits in there, so pay attention.

Is Social Media Replacing Blogging?


As you can tell from the interview, I don’t believe that social media will replace blogging. I think that there is a place for both and each serves a different purpose. In particular, social media and micro-blogging will continue to grow and be used as a means for sharing information on a small scale, while blogs will serve as destinations for in depth looks at various topics. Ultimately, these different tools will continue to work hand in hand, as one is used to promote and share the other.

What do you think?

Will the rapid growth of social media platforms lead to the death of the blog? Leave your thoughts below!

Recent Personal Blogging and Speaking News

Hey everyone. There’s plenty of cool news in these parts . . .

I’ve also been dealing with a real headache on the personal front. I hired a contractor to rebuild my back patio, and it has turned into a complete fiasco. I’ve shared some details about the concrete issues already, but it turns out that there are far worse problems then those I’ve already discussed. I’ll likely be sharing photos for all to see in the not too distant future, but if the contractor decides to stop playing games and do what’s right, I’ll likely keep the pics and videos of the absolutely sloppy and careless work to myself.

Falling Back Into Old Bad Habits: Blogging vs. Social Networking

Blogging vs. Social Media Habits

Image: Steve Jurvetson

The eternal debate over moving your social identity from blogging platforms to other social media like social networks will never die (for the foreseeable future, at least), but I for one believe that you should never cede complete control of your personal brand to the innumerable social networks. A personal or business blog, hosted on your own domain, is truly the only way to completely control your own message, without fear of being moderated – “accidentally” or on purpose – or even closed.

As someone who oversees a large growing community for real estate investors of almost 75,000 members, I understand the need to moderate your community, and that’s exactly why I think people have to have some kind of home base outside the rules and regulations of other sites.

Falling Back Into Old Bad Habits . . .

I’m guilty of losing focus and posting exclusively on other social networks at the expense of this blog. That said, while I have certainly ignored this blog from time to time over the years, I do manage over a dozen posts per week on the BiggerPockets Blog and our new weekly Investor’s Corner column on Realtor.com.

I should be focusing my efforts here once again and will be doing my best to share content and ideas via this platform . . . if I have a lapse, just scream at me (or remind me on any of those other platforms: G+, Facebook, Twitter); I’ve got to thank Dave Taylor, who inspired me about a week ago to get off my backside and revive this place.

What about you? Are you still blogging or have you given it up to the great black hole of the social networks?

How Your Virtual Assistant Can Ruin Your Online Reputation

What a damaged reputation can do to a career...

What a damaged reputation can do to a career...

One of the troubling trends that I’ve seen more and more of recently, is that people are outsourcing aspects of their social profile to Virtual Assistants (VAs) who are clearly unqualified for the task.

I see the average Joe, large speakers and other personalities who participate online and use a VA to do so on their behalf. While in a perfect world, it would be great if we could outsource our personalities, in my opinion this is a dangerous thing to do.

I can almost always tell when someone is using a VA, and my instincts are almost always correct. The comments and posts are typically very generic and often-times make the person that the VA is participating on behalf of, look like they have FAR less knowledge then they actually do.

Just today, a VA posted several comments on behalf of a very experienced real estate expert on our site, BiggerPockets:

Everything has started to increase nowadays and it’s even getting higher. If you are an investor you should always look for a long term investment and be wise about your investment to stay long and be successful in the industry.

It’s just a matter of bravery in investing and a full knowledge in Real Estate business in order to be successful in this industry. Let’s just have a positive attitude towards it.

Oh wow those numbers are so overwhelming. but we are still hoping for the fast recovery of the US economy.

Do they jump out at you? Do they sell “experienced?” Do they exude confidence that the poster knows what they are talking about?

They definitely don’t to me.

If you were looking for someone to work with, would you turn to this person, or would you rather connect with the person who knows what they are talking about?

If you’re just looking to get your name posted next to some fluff, it’s one thing, but you can’t outsource years of experience and knowledge to someone charging $2, $5, or $10 an hour to act on your behalf anonymously online.

Your reputation should be worth far more than that!

Photo: Audrey Pilato

How Dare You! How to Charge Your Friends for Calls, Emails, Texts, Social Networking & Video Conferencing

In a sign of the times, with our economy hitting lower lows and no hope in sight, some savvy entrepreneurs have come up with creative ways to survive. Below you’ll find an actual email I received today from a friend – Charles Feldman. As you can see, the cost of connecting is not cheap, and the price for messing up is even more expensive.

The Actual Email Containing a Communication Rate Card

Dear friends:
In these recessionary times, new sources of revenue are always being sought after. With that in mind, please refer to the new rate e-card below for future communications with me. I look forward to hearing from you. And, yes, I DO take AMEX.

Telephone Calls:

If YOU call Me…$5 per ten minute segment
If I call YOU…$12 per ten minute segment

You can buy a package of ten calls TO me for $25.50 or ten calls FROM me
for $42.95 (Does not include weekend and holidays).

Emails:

If YOU email me and I respond…$3 per email
If YOU email me and I DON’T respond…$6 per email (it means you pissed me off)

If I email you and you respond…$15 per email
If YOU email me and I respond…$23 per email ( you shouldn’t be emailing me)

Text messages:

A bundle of ten text messages to me…$75 (with no response from me)
A bundle of ten text messages to me WITH response…$125

All texts must be less than ten characters in length and be written in all lower case. Numbers and symbols are charged extra.

Video conference:

You Skype me…$250 each 15 minute segment
I Skype you…I won’t. But, if I do, $432 each 10 minute segment

As for Facebook and Twitter rates:

I don’t want to be YOUR freaking “friend”–BUT, if you DO “friend” me on
Facebook, the fee is $1,235.23. And, no, I won’t send you birthday greetings though I may cyberbully you.

If you Tweet me, I’ll have you arrested.

eCards

I DON’T open eCards. I have someone do it for me and pass the cost to you…$12.50

I think you will all find these rates very reasonable. I look forward to hearing from you….often.

Charles

Will you be implementing a similar cost structure yourself? Please leave your feedback below.

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