Want to become a thought leader without laboring to turn your ideas into polished words? Though every business owner hears numerous times that guest blogging is good for business, writing isn’t for everyone. Writing is hard. It takes time. And entrepreneurs are always short of time. What’s more, ghost writing often comes across for what it is – a transparent gimmick. Still, no excuse to give up on blogging.
phoneBlogger takes an ingenious approach to creating original content and tapping into its marketing potential. Rather than provide ghost-written filler, phoneBlogger turns a phone interview into a ready-for-publication article. The ideas and words belong to the business owner, so they’re authentic and more personal. At the same time, they’ve been coaxed into presentable form by professional wordsmiths – fit to distribute throughout contact networks and media channels.
The service was developed to help legal professionals – overly dependent on word-of-mouth referrals to grow business – use the Internet to attract more clients. Started as a favor to existing clients, phoneBlogger spun off into its own profitable business. Co-founder Vik Rajan tells us about building phoneBlogger and why doing without VC funding is the only way to go:
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
Partners of boutique law firms & CPA firms grow their clientele through word-of-mouth referrals but are often too busy to stay top-of-mind with their past clients, colleagues, and other attorneys (who are their best referral relationships). Out of sight, out of mind. So we interview these partners (our clients) over the phone and turn their words into polished blog articles (reflecting their personalities and expertise). With their approval, we then promote our clients’ blog posts via LinkedIn, Google+, etc. and email excerpts as an email newsletter from our client’s email address to their contacts. Thus, we use the Internet to boost their word-of-mouth referrals.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
Our ghost-blogging truly reflects our client’s voice, because we begin by audio recording our client’s words. Our clients can then tweak and approve their articles. We believe it’s our client’s personal brand and personality that must truly be conveyed, not just accurate expertise. This is why phoneBlogging is better than generic, pre-written, canned content or the “go research & write” processes of typical ghost-blogging methods.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
I’m emailing by 6:30am. I stop doing official work email around 7pm. But I’m highly connected and read/write at odds hours… it’s 2:42am right now (had just slept for 3 hrs).
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
My wife and I do a lot of traveling to disconnect. January 2014: safari in Kenya and Tanzania, then Zanzibar beach. Next Friday & Saturday, going inside the Capitol and the White House. May: Seville (Spain).
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Check, delete, prioritize and answer emails. Rinse. Repeat.
When do your best ideas come to you?
After a good meeting or presentation.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
My partner, Mark. Our first phoneBlogger (still with us after our humble beginning 3 years ago) is a friend of a client. The next 2 are close college friends of mine. We now contract with 7 other freelance phoneBloggers, who work ~20 hrs/week.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
We first started doing this as a favor to clients. They started getting referrals, new clients, and speaking invitations that we knew were inevitable. A few recommended this idea to others. That’s when I needed to come up with a name and pretend that it was an actual business. And so, we started charging!
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
My home office overlooks Fifth Ave with views of the Empire State Building, Central Park, Morningside Heights, Riverside Church & Marcus Garvey Park. I love working from and living in East Harlem. My business partner lives and works on Long Island. He has an office to escape the “Honey-do” list but prefers his home office, as the rest of us do.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
“You still write your firm’s blog? We’re all phoneBlogging it nowadays! way more productive.” We’ll have over 1000 subscription clients and will be capitalizing on planned aspects of our business model.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
Richard Branson. Russell Simmons. Robert Kiyosaki. Primal Branding (book). The occasional TED Talk or Pando interview. And while not McConaughey per se, I relate to being inspired by my future self and business (aka, vision).
How’d you fund this venture?
Self-funding. We’re profitable. Most businesses don’t need VC. They just need to sell to a real customer, sell some more, price well, and reduce costs (a credit card helps). Oh, and did I mention sell?
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Get away from the computer and discuss the idea with potential customers. They’ll give you all the marketing copy you need.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Do people need and want the benefit (of your product/service)? At what price, cost, ROI to them?
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
I’m getting there. My company will inevitably be a multi-million dollar business (revenue and then profit). It doesn’t need me on a day-to-day basis now. When I replicate myself in the Sales & Marketing process and launch some other business (or aspect of phoneBlogger.net), I’ll then know I created a sustainable entity. That’s when my brainchild has all grown up; I’ll then be a successful entrepreneur.
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
Norway: fjords. And they’ve got tech stuff too.
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
- One Thing Well, @onethingwell – because they practice what they preach
- Bill Maher, @billmaher – because he tries to practice what he preaches
- Harvard Biz Review, @harvardbiz – because we all want to sound smart
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
We have over 70 clients who pay us around $580/mo on average.
To have a phoneblogger turn your words into business magnets, visit phoneblogger.net. Learn more about the company and Vik on Facebook and Twitter.