When I was four years old, I was an excellent swimmer. Okay, I was an enthusiastic swimmer. Okay, okay, I flailed my arms like a drunken hummingbird, and if I got more than a foot away from the wall, I was in big trouble.
I’d panic. I’d inhale water, I’d start to sink, and that’s when the flailing started. Fortunately, someone would grab me and help me back to the side, where I’d be safe and sound for at least 20 seconds (until I decided to try again).
My mom and dad tried giving me advice on the crawl stroke and staying calm, but I was afraid that if I didn’t move my arms really fast, I’d sink. My parents weren’t great swimmers themselves, so of course their advice, as well-meaning as it was, didn’t help that much. For my own safety (and their peace of mind), they enrolled me in swimming lessons.
On the first day, my swimming instructor gave me a single piece of advice that changed everything: take a huge breath and you’ll float.
It worked! Once I figured out how to float, I stopped panicking, stopped flailing in place, and started learning efficient strokes that moved me forward. The next summer, I joined the swim team and won my first medals.
Sometimes it’s worth paying a coach to get you past that flailing stage and moving forward toward success.
That’s why I want to talk about Yaro Starak and review his Blog Mastermind program today. Just in case you feel like you’re flailing at this blogging thing, and you’re ready to make real progress toward earning significant income from a blog.
I’ve been a member for several weeks now, and I’ve noticed Yaro has a few things in common with my old swimming instructor…
Australian accent, patience, wisdom, and… big hair.
Blog Mastermind Review
What Is Blog Mastermind, Anyway?
In short, it’s blog school.
You want more? Okay, here’s the long version:
This is a six-month online course that will teach you everything you need to know about starting a profitable blog. Yaro’s tagline is that he’s going to show you how to earn a full-time income from blogging only a couple hours a day.
If you’re still in the flailing and sinking stage, that might sound like hype to you, but speaking as someone who already makes a full time income from her blogs and websites, I know it’s possible. I also know you don’t have to be brilliant, technically skilled, or get even half the things right to make it.
If you like to write, you can become a full-time blogger.
But back to the course…
From A to Z, you’ll learn how to select a niche, set up your first blog, build up visitors to your site, and start making some money.
About Yaro Starak, AKA Your Instructor
You already know about the hair, so I’ll get onto the more important stuff.
Yaro, who runs Entrepreneurs Journey, speaks from experience. His flagship blog, which he has never worked more than a couple hours a day on, was making $4,000 to $6,000 a month when he first launched his Blog Mastermind program in 2007. Today I believe his earnings are closer to $10,000 a month.
I feel it’s important to note that those earnings come from his blog, not from his school. Certainly the school makes him additional money, but he’s not one of those guys who only makes money from teaching other people how to make money.
He’s got a podcast in the program’s resources section that details how his blog makes him money, and he’s done everything from advertising programs such as Adsense to selling banner space and text links to affiliate marketing (this is a big earner for him, and he’s a real fan of recurring monthly income, which is possible from some affiliate programs).
At the end of the day, the reason why I connect with him–and possibly you will too–is because he’s a writer, and he really cares about creating quality content. With so many people selling schemes that teach you how to game the system, it’s a pleasure to find a program that teaches you how to build a quality resource doing what you enjoy doing anyway: writing.
Yaro isn’t about teaching you to get rich quick; he teaches you how to create a blog that you can gradually grow into a long-term, reliable source of income.
What You Get with Blog Mastermind
When I first logged in, I was really impressed by the amount of content (articles, podcasts, and videos) available. I’m still impressed, as several weeks later, I have plenty left to read, listen to, and watch.
One of the advantages of joining a program a year after it’s launched is that all the core course material is already there, and there’s nothing to slow you down. You can take your time and slowly implement the suggestions in each of the lessons, or if you’re already an established blogger just looking to take it to the next level, you can zip through the early sessions and delve into the more advanced material.
Also, Yaro continues to add case studies, respond to forum posts, and host teleconference calls (you can join the call and ask questions personally or you can leave your question in the forum, and he’ll answer it on the air), so the content is still expanding.
Here’s an overview of what all you can expect (I’m covering the core stuff–there are other goodies tucked here and there inside the virtual Blog Mastermind halls too):
You get 27 weekly lessons and 5 advanced lessons, which are available in audio format and written format (some lessons also include video components to show you what to do). You can load the audio files onto your mp3 player, so you can take them on the road, in the car, etc.
I’m going to give you the titles of the lessons, so you can get a feel for if this is what you’re looking for:
Lesson 1: Let’s Get Blogging!
Lesson 2: Blog Foundations
Lesson 3: RSS, Social Proof & Plug-ins
Lesson 4: Finalizing Your Blog Structure
Lesson 5: Set Up Key Content Pages
Lesson 6: Content Focus and Structure
Lesson 7: Authentic Content
Lesson 8: Personal Branding and Sourcing Content
Lesson 9: How To Find And Retain Good Bloggers To Write For You
Lesson 10: Copywriting For Blogs
Lesson 11: Marketing Through Conversations
Lesson 12: Leveraging Content For Traffic Part 1 – Forums
Lesson 13: Leveraging Content For Traffic Part 2 – Article Marketing & Blog Carnivals
Lesson 14: Leveraging Content For Traffic Part 3 – Guest Writing
Lesson 15: Search Engine Optimization For Blogs
Lesson 16: Impact Marketing
Lesson 17: Podcasting
Lesson 18: Publicity
Lesson 19: The Traffic Secret Every Blogger Knows
Lesson 20: The Monetization Process
Lesson 21: Contextual Advertising
Lesson 22: Affiliate Marketing
Lesson 23: Direct Advertisers
Lesson 24: Five Powerful Ways To Make Money With Your Blog
Lesson 25: Email List Profits
Lesson 26: Buying and Selling Blogs
Lesson 27: Blogging As A Business
Lesson 1: The Secrets of Social Bookmarking
Lesson 2: Unorthodox Methods To Drive More Traffic To Your Blog
Lesson 3: How to Recruit Guest Authors and Paid Writers
Lesson 4: How to Attract Investors to Take Your Blog to the Next Level
Lesson 5: Should You Use a Harvest or Growth Monetization Strategy?
“Master the Mindset” Podcasts
This series of ten podcasts (transcripts are also available) goes beyond blog skills. Yaro covers such topics such as becoming more effective by implementing the 80/20 Principle, dealing with information overload, and establishing a vision and taking action.
I like that the program gives you more than “just the facts, ma’am.” Proper mindset really does play a big role in success, whether you’re starting your own business or just trying to make a couple hundred extra bucks a month from a blog.
Blog Case Study Videos
As I write this, Yaro has about 15 video case studies for you to peruse. These case studies are on students who ask him to review their sites and make suggestions. Yaro uses a screencasting program to show you the student’s blog, and he points out exactly what he would do with the content and the layout to increase earnings, RSS readers, email signups, etc.
I’m working my way through these videos, and even as someone who is quite experienced with building and monetizing blogs, I find myself collecting quite a few gems. My weakness (well, one of them!) is that I like to focus on the writing and to some extent on building links, but I’ve never been that interested in tweaking layouts, analyzing the flow of my blog, the effectiveness of link placement, etc. so I’m getting a lot of ideas on things to try in the future.
Blog Profits Blueprint
This is essentially the textbook for the class, and it’s available in written and audio formats (no Hollywood adaptation yet, but maybe someday!). Yaro suggests reading it before starting the lessons, and it provides a very good overview of what he teaches: picking a profitable niche, writing “pillar articles” to seed your blog, methods for increasing links and visitors to your site, and of course making money!
Audio Interviews with Successful Bloggers
This is just a small section, with a few interviews, but it was certainly educational to listen to them, as all the bloggers (Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, Andy Wibbels, etc.) had a different area of expertise.
It’s heartening to know that there are so many different paths to success. Maybe you want to take the lazy woman’s route I did and monetize with Adsense. Maybe you prefer cashing in with affiliate programs. Maybe you’re more interested in creating your own information products and using your blog to sell them. Maybe you are a freelancer or consultant just looking to increase your recognition and gain more business. Maybe you don’t like committing yourself to long-term projects, and you like the idea of buying blogs cheap, fixing them up, and flipping them for a profit.
Different bloggers have taken different roads to financial independence, and the Blog Mastermind program is really about giving you the wherewithal to establish your own path, not forcing you into one particular model.
Mastermind Forum Community
The private “members only” forum is right up there with the lessons for value. You can chat with fellow bloggers who are going through the same struggles as you are, and you can get advice from mentors (successful bloggers, many of whom are graduates from the program).
The forums are fairly active, though not so much that you won’t be able to find your thread if you come back two days later. Inside, you have the chance to submit your questions to Yaro for the teleconference calls, request a case study be done of your blog, or just ask your peers for their opinions.
A cool aspect to the forum is that there are bloggers there from all over the world. As a night owl myself, I get a kick out of being able to log in and interact with other folks at 2 am (my time).
There’s also a section devoted to technical stuff, and if you’re not a whiz with modifying WordPress and the like, you’ll find quite a few technically inclined people you can ask for help.
You’ll get out of the forum what you put into it, of course, but there is definitely the potential to develop relationships with other up-and-coming bloggers in your niche (or a related one). This opens up the door to future joint ventures, guest blogging opportunities, cross-promotion, etc.
What I Like About the Program
I feel like I’ve already gushed quite a bit, so I’ll keep this short.
The Blog Mastermind program is tailored for the beginning blogger, but Yaro has done a nice job creating bonuses and extra content, so even people who are already earning money from their blogs will get something out the experience. Since I’m already busy writing for several sites, it’ll probably take me quite a while to get around to implementing new ideas, so it’s definitely not the kind of course where you whiz through everything in a couple weeks and then wonder what’s next.
I also love that even though Yaro has designed this to be a 6-month course, he keeps adding new content in the form of case studies and teleconference calls. Your formal lessons may end after 27 weeks, but you never get kicked out of the program. You can continue to use the forums and absorb the new content.
Yaro has also helped out some of his students by doing interviews with them on his flapship blog or publishing articles they’ve written, so he’s definitely interested in seeing you succeed.
Even though I’ve only been in there for a few weeks and haven’t listened to all the lessons or seen all the case studies yet, I certainly feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth–and then some.
What I Don’t Like About the Program
It wouldn’t be a very balanced review if I didn’t point out some shortcomings. I’m pleased to say there aren’t many, and I had to sit and think a bit before finding something to write about here.
I feel that after a year and more of adding content to the course, the inside is in need of a little organizational update. There’s a menu up top, and a menu on the side, and the forums are on a different domain altogether (I believe Yaro added the members-only forum to an existing blog forum site of his).
There’s a place where, if you click “Live Q&A Call Recordings,” it’ll take you to a page where there’s one recording from 2007. But then if you surf into the “news” link, you’ll find a link to the last year’s worth of Q&A conference calls (15-20 different recordings).
Also, though the lessons are listed under the “Lessons” menu, the links aren’t live. If you lose your introductory email, you’ll have to ask for it again, because the links are in the mail (not that I would ever lose my email, because I’m way more organized than that, ahem).
It’s not a big deal since they’ll resend you the email if you ask, but it did seem like the lessons ought to just be linked there on the site like everything else. (By the way, if you lost your introductory email and had to request it again–and I’m not saying I did, mind you–the customer service is prompt, and you wouldn’t be waiting for long.)
Anyway, those are pretty minor grievances. Considering all the varied (and evolving) content in the program, I can see why it’d be a challenge to keep organized. I’d rather have to click through a couple spots to find the bonuses than not have them!
Questions About Blog Mastermind
I’d like to anticipate a few questions you may have after reading this review (and if I don’t cover your question, feel free to ask it in the comments below!):
How much does the program cost?
It costs $497 USD.
Personally, I feel this is a really good deal. Many membership sites are just about keeping you a member (and getting a monthly payment) indefinitely. Since Yaro’s is designed to last six months, it’s more like working on a degree where there is a definite end in site.
The best part is that, as I mentioned above, you don’t lose your access after six months. You still get to be a member of the community (forum), you still get to be a part of the traffic exchange email group, you still get access to all the lessons, case studies, podcasts, etc. And when new teleconference calls come out, you’re still invited to get on the line and participate (or just listen in after they are posted).
What if I’m a complete and utter beginner?
Yaro’s program is largely accessible, and even designed for, the beginning blogger. If you’ve never created a blog before, you can get started with this program.
I do, however, think you might find it overwhelming if all you currently use the computer for is email and light web surfing, and you often feel lost when downloading files or navigating an online environment (don’t tell her, but I’m thinking of my mom as I write this description). If this sounds like you, you may want to take some local computer classes before plunking down the money for this program.
What if I’m an author and just want to use a blog to promote my book?
I think a blog is a fabulous way to promote your book. It really lets you market effectively without spending a fortune, and I have no doubt Blog Mastermind can teach you how to increase traffic and get more people looking at (and buying!) your book.
That said, $500 is a pretty big investment, and if you’re only making $1 or so per book sold, then your blog has to move quite a few books in order for you to recoup your investment. You may find yourself tempted to get into monetizing your blog in other ways, not just using it for a vehicle for selling your book, and that’s where this program will really shine for you.
Also, consider that a blog can be a great platform not only for selling your current book but for selling more books you may be thinking of writing (especially if they’re in the same niche). One of the things Yaro emphasizes is building an email list–this is the best way to get the word out about your new products (or, in this case, new books!).
Ultimately, you have to consider what your end goals are. If you’re just hoping to sell a few more copies of one book, then you may not want to invest the time and money in this program. If you see this as a launching pad for a career of “writing for your wealth,” then I absolutely recommend it for authors as well as those of us who just want to blog.
Head on over to check it out at Blog Mastermind Program if you want more information (or to sign up!).