This is part IV of the Success Interview Series.
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This week’s featured guest is Mr. Benny Hsu, who is a successful app developer and successful blogger at Get Busy Living.
I first heard of Benny on Pat Flynn’s blog, The Smart Passive Income. I was very inspired by his successful story and how he has changed his life by committing himself to take ACTION. That was around the time I started my own blog in December of last year. Immediately I contacted Benny for advice on blogging and he is one of the most down to earth and nicest blogger I’ve met. Thanks Benny for giving me great blogging advice!
Benny also inspires me to write one of my most popular post on the blog: http://www.prosperitytodolist.com/27-lessons-i-have-learned-in-27-years/
If you don’t know him, Benny is the successful developer of the photography app called Photo 365 which was featured as the app of the week by iTunes in 2011. He had just a new course coming out (update: registration closed) and I took this opportunity to interview him:
1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself Benny?
2. When did you start pursuing your passion in growth and developing applications?
I’ve been trying for a long time to change myself. I’ve always been interested in personal development and have read books. I just never applied what I would learn.
I really started to get serious about it in October 2010. At that point I was tired of my life and wanted to make serious changes. I re-read personal development books, but this time applying what they were teaching.
I didn’t change everything overnight. Instead it was a gradual process. Developing an app was one thing I had wanted to do. I had an idea, but didn’t realize how I could do it since I don’t know how to program. I discovered outsourcing and knew that was what I was going to use to develop my app.
3. What were the obstacles you have faced while working on your first App? I mean you have no prior experience about app development and there are a lot of uncertainties lying ahead.
For me it was how to outsource the work. I had never hired a company to do any work for me. Now I was trusting them with $1,900 and I didn’t want to get ripped off.
I bought an ebook to get a general idea of what to expect. Still I had to learn a lot on the way. Nothing teaches you more than actually doing it.
4. What lessons have you learned on this journey of growth and being an app developer?
I learned you have to believe in what you’re doing. There will be times when it seems too much or what you’re doing isn’t working.
For my app, I had no doubt that I’d get it done. I never had the thoughts “What if…” cross my mind. Failure wasn’t an option. The same applied to my personal growth. This time I’d create the changes I wanted and I wouldn’t stop until I did.
5. What was your turning point?
If you’re talking about the turning point in my life where I drew a line to separate my past from my future, it was one night in October 2010. I drove home from another stressful night at work. I had made this drive over a thousand times easily with the same feelings, but tonight something was different.
I had been trying to change my life for the past five years with no success. I felt stuck in life. I had kept waiting for everything to change. Now I was tired of waiting. I came home and typed a letter to myself. I put one copy on my bathroom mirror and one on the wall above my computer. It would remind me every day of the feelings I had that night in the car and to take action until I was happy.
From that night, life has not been the same. It’s been a rewarding journey and I’m still growing.
6. What have made your blog grows so fast? Any tips?
From the outside it may seem fast, but I don’t think it’s been that fast. I can think of other blogs that have had much faster growth. The way I’ve grown my blog has been from writing great content. There’s a bunch of personal development blogs so I needed to find a reason why someone would want to read mine. I really wanted my voice to come through in my writing. So when I write, I don’t use words I normally wouldn’t use if we were talking. Therefore when someone reads my articles it feels like a friend talking to them. They relate more that way.
Another important part is marketing. If no one knows about your great content, then it’s not going to get read. You can’t rely on Google and SEO either.
I focused on writing content, and building links naturally from people linking to my articles or leaving comments on other blogs with my blog in the address box. Now I get 80% of my traffic directly from Google searches.
So all that boring and unsexy work is paying off. Too many new bloggers focus so much on Google and SEO. They can do basic things to help, but don’t rely on it at the beginning. Go out and meet other bloggers. Share their content if it’s valuable to your audience. Don’t ask for anything in return. If they check out your blog, and enjoyed what you wrote, they’ll be more than happy to share it.
I also think that having results have really helped. I started the blog when I had just started to be serious about personal growth. Then I was able to show some of the results I have, like my apps and the growth of my blog. I’ve gotten many emails saying they enjoyed my journey because I seem like a normal guy and if I could do it then they believe they can too. That’s great to hear.
7. You have developed numerous App including the Photo- 360 , the Gratitude Journal, and the Life Quotes Apps. Any new project you are planning to release soon?
Right now no apps in the work. I’m working on new features for Photo 365 and Gratitude Journal because those two are my biggest money earners. I certainly do hope to have more apps in development this year.
8. What is your long term plan for GetBusyLiving?
I definitely want to keep writing there, but I will expand to different mediums. Up next I plan on doing a podcast to reach a whole new audience. I’m always thinking of ways to keep things interesting and deliver value for the readers.
9. What advice can you share with us on how to succeed as a blogger or someone who is interested in learning how to develop apps?
If you want to be serious about blogging or developing apps, then you have to treat it that way.
If you treat it like a hobby then that’s all it’ll be for you. But if you want to have a thriving blog, with thousands of readers, and earning money from it, then you need to treat it like a business.
Learn how to become a better blogger and writer. Read from others who already have success. The same with developing apps.
If you know enough to get started, then start. Learn along the way. Don’t think you need to know everything before you get started. Despite having a blog and developing apps, I don’t know everything. I’m still learning.
Thanks Benny for this great interview :)!
Key take away lessons from Benny:
1. Be willing to take action. Nothing can manifest until you commit to do something!
2. Be unafraid of the unknown: Benny has no prior experience in app development but he has the courage to go ahead and learn along the way. Now he is teaching others how to create their own apps via App Academy.
3. Learn from other’s successes. As Benny has mentioned in the interview, he learns from others in the areas of blogging and app development. There is only two ways to learn: from your own experience or from others. The cheapest way to learn is to model the successful ones because you cannot afford to burn time and energy on making mistakes which you otherwise could avoid by learning from others.
Check out the following articles written by Benny on his experience of developing the Photo-365 app: