Public speaking is one of the biggest fears in the world today. Fear is, unfortunately, holding many of us back when it comes to accomplishing great things and experiencing the many opportunities that this life has to offer. Blogging is a perfect example of something anyone can do, but still — many people don’t want to put themselves out there, or there is some other underlying reason for not taking action.
If you ever needed some inspiration and reason to appreciate everything, Maxwell Ivey is known as “The Blind Blogger” and he will be sharing his story with you today in the latest installment of our Meet the Bloggers series. Maxwell has quite a story, so be sure to read through it all and then take action like never before!
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
Hello! My name is Maxwell Ivey, Max to my friends. I am a totally blind man who grew up in a family of carnival owners in Texas. After my father’s death, me and my brothers realized we wouldn’t be able to keep our small show going. Knowing that I needed to figure out what I was going to do next, I thought about trying my hand as an amusement equipment broker. I had helped my family buy and sell equipment for ourselves, so I thought I could turn that into a profession.
After starting my website Midwaymarketplace.com, people started telling me that if I was going to be online I needed to have a blog. Many of them couldn’t even tell me exactly why just that most online businesses had them. So, I looked into how a person starts a blog. Not too long after that, I wrote my first post. Then when I started my second website TheBlindBlogger.net to share the more personal experiences of being an entrepreneur who happens to be blind, I had a blog on that site from day one. My first post was called I think I’m ready to be an inspiration.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
As mentioned above I have two blogs. I am much more active on The Blind Blogger. So, I’ll concern myself with it from here on out. The niche is personal development. I didn’t plan to be a self help blogger or author. I didn’t even used to think of myself as anything special. I certainly didn’t see myself as an inspiration. But friends pointed out that with all I was doing online, I was example to all those people who sleepwalk through their lives with no ambition or courage.
They said, “Max if anyone had an excuse to sit at home on their couch, eat junk food, and watch tv, its you”. They said it’s because you show up in your life that we are inspired and motivated. So, the focus of the blog is sharing those every day events that happen to all of us and the lessons that can be learned from them. You see lessons and teachers are all around us if we are just willing to open our hearts and minds to them.
I also write posts about past interviews both as the host and the guest. And I plan to write posts about future speaking events and other adventures that I think will motivate people to take action. I want to live up to the expectations of those people who so often say “If Max can do it, then what is my excuse?”.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
I have written two books Leading You Out of the Darkness Into the Light: A Blind Man’s Inspirational Guide to Success and It’s Not the Cookie, It’s the Bag: An Easy to Follow Guide to Weight Loss Success. I’m working on my third book about my recent crazy solo trip to New York City during the holidays. I won the trip as part of being one of the 2016 Amtrak Writers in Residence.
I sell my books on Amazon, Create Space, etc., but I also sell them directly from my website using selz and gumroad. I do this because it means more cash money in my pocket. Instead of giving up thirty percent or more of the gross sales, I only give up five percent to pay pal for the payment processing part of the sale.
I have done so many interviews that people have asked me to teach them how to get booked on shows or they have asked me to do the work of getting them booked. I have created an online course and now offer an online media publicity service. I have priced this media service for those authors who are on the way up and who may have more passion than cash. I am also available for public speaking where I share my message of finding solutions instead of making excuses.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
Well, there are so many things I wish I had known. You have to realize that when I started, I knew absolutely nothing about having an online business at all. I had to learn how to build a website, how to set prices, how to recruit clients, how to record videos, how to use social media networks, how to grow an email mailing list, and so much more.
One of my hardest lessons came when I decided to accept my role as an inspiration. I thought I needed a separate website because I didn’t feel like the carnival and amusement park folks would want to hear about my work as a author, coach, and speaker. I didn’t feel like those people needing motivation and inspiration would want to hear about the amusement equipment stuff.
My good friend Adrienne Smith, formerly the blog commenting super star, tried to talk me out of having two websites. I wish I had listened. I mean its a lot of work having one website and blog. Its even more work having two. One of them always has to suffer from lack of attention. It also means you have to have two pages on face book, linked in, google plus, twitter, etc.
I realized my mistake and for the most part do all my social media stuff under the name Maxwell Ivey. I’ve purchased the domain name www.maxwellivey.com and my plan is to combine everything under one website. But I’ll still have to have and maintain content for both of them. So, if you are considering additional websites, be really sure that you actually need more than one website, blog, email list, social media pages, etc.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
Ryan Biddulph at Blogging From Paradise.
Lorraine Reguly, my friend and editor, runs WordingWell.com where she blogs about writing, editing, and promoting your work. Its also where you can find her books.
And while he doesn’t have a blog, my friend David Steele posts some amazingly upbeat poetry every day. He does this in spite of losing his vision. He is a major inspiration to me. You can find his work on his facebook page at fb.com/Steele75
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
The most important tool for me is a third party blogging app called MarsEdit. It is only available for macs, but I highly recommend that windows users try to find something similar. What it does is allow me to write and edit my posts without being connected to the net. It also helps me format the posts and insert the photos and video links. So, when you are traveling and don’t have a good internet connection; you can still create your posts for upload when you get the opportunity.
Second would be Facebook Messenger. This is because, to me, a key part of blogging success is building and maintaining relationships both online and off. So many people are on Facebook whether they want to be or not. Messenger allows me to have quick access to these friends. It also allows me to send voice or video messages as well as the opportunity to have face to face conversations using its video calling feature.
Another key ingredient to a successful blogging business is our email mailing lists. I firmly believe that your list is one of the few things you can truly own in today’s online business world. You can take it with you no matter what happens to your social media accounts. I use Mad Mimi. Now, I know there are services that offer more features; but there are few that I have found to be easier to use or more responsive to my specific problems that come from being a blind computer user and blogger. If I choose, they will even take my text document with links and create the email for me then sending it out from my account. They ask my advice about changes to their website. And they make a real effort to understand my needs. When I had trouble creating my signature, they went into my account and did it for me. They even went to my website at The Blind Blogger to find out what colors I use on my site. They then created a color scheme in my emails to match my website. They added the links to my top social media sites. Then they explained about how to create my auto reply message when people sign up to my list. When I ask them about problems, they will start by sending me a tutorial link. But if I am still having problems, they will walk me through it via email. You see, we don’t generally use products or services that are difficult to use. Having an email system that is so simple is a real blessing to me. I should also mention that Mad Mimi doesn’t offer an affiliate link. I make nothing by endorsing them.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
I would tell them two things. First, write in your own voice. Don’t try to be anyone else. It’s easy to fall into the trap of emulating people who are successful, but this will not help you to stand out and be successful long term. Also, people are pretty good at recognizing fakes. They will quickly move on to someone who is authentic. Don’t be upset if it takes you a few posts or even a few months of them to find your own voice. My personal style is to write like I am writing to a close personal friend.
Second, be consistent. You don’t have to blog every day. You shouldn’t even want to blog more than once a day. I personally think once or twice a week is just right for most people. You want your readers to get used to getting a new post from you on a certain time and date to the point that they will miss it if they don’t hear from you then. I personally struggle with this one, but there is no doubt that it works.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
I would say it’s to know who you are and what type of blogger you are. I was recently reminded about this when leaving for my trip to New York City. I was worried about taking photos and video while traveling. I wondered how this blind guy would handle it. I was also wondering if my two week trip would be enough for its own book. My friend Lorraine said, “Max you are not a travel blogger you are an inspirational, motivational, self help blogger”. She said as long as I remember that, I would end up with a great book. There are so many types and styles of blogs and bloggers. Always be true to yourself in this way.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’m going to give you what sounds like an unusual maybe even wasteful way of spending this $100. I don’t know about people outside the United States and Canada, but here $100 is not a lot of money. There aren’t a lot of things you can really accomplish with it. To me, successful bloggers network. They go out of their way to meet people and to help them by writing great posts and offering value to their readers. So, I think I would spend it in taxis to and from Starbucks and coffee or cappuccino while there. I could sit down with my laptop and enjoy the people around me. I could say hello to people and do that thing where I turn strangers into friends. I could strike up conversations about writing, blogging, podcasting, working online, etc. I mean people are usually going to ask you what you are doing. If you tell them with pride I’m working on my first novel or I’m building my website, you will be surprised how many great people you will meet. Many will want to keep up with what you are doing and how much progress you are making. Some will even ask if there is some way they can help. It does take a positive outlook, a friendly smile, and a hug or a handshake. But being out in public meeting people face to face has lots of value in my mind.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
They are also welcome to send me an email to email@example.com.
I’m always happy to meet new people and make new friends! So please don’t think you have to have a good reason to contact or connect with me. I’m not one of those people who only talks to others if he knows a check will be forth coming. This is because there have been so many times when being willing to talk to someone without knowing how it would benefit me lead to a great opportunity.
Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed for your blog. I am honored to be included along with the many other top bloggers who have appeared on your site. To me, every opportunity to share my experiences with people is a treasure. I hope to spread my message of finding solutions instead of making excuses. I hope that like a lot of my other friends and fans you are now asking yourself if Max can do it then what is my excuse.
Thanks and take care,
He is known around the world as The Blind Blogger, host of the What’s Your Excuse Show, founder of the Midway Marketplace, and so much more!
Thanks again to Maxwell Ivey for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.