The Netsetter: Interview with Glen Stansberry of LiveDev

The Netsetter: Interview with Glen Stansberry of LiveDev


Thursday Bram: Hi, this is Thursday Bram from WorkAwesome and I’m here with Glen Stansberry.  Glen, can you tell us a little bit about what you do and who you are?

Glen Stansberry: Hey, Thursday.  First off, thanks for having me.  This is pretty cool.  So I am a Web developer/writer – well, that’s good for now, web developer and writer.  I live in Lawrence, Kansas and I currently work for a company full time called Media for Media, which develops websites for news organizations and things like that.  I’m a designer there.

Thursday Bram: So in addition to that day job, you have a lot of your own projects going, right? Can you tell us a little bit about LifeDev and some of the other projects that you’ve got?

Glen Stansberry: Yeah.  So probably my first, the project that’s done the best over the years has probably been LifeDev, LifeDev.net.  Basically it’s just a blog where I write about – it’s actually kind of taken a few twists, but it started out as a personal development blog, hence the name.  And then over time I kind of got sick of that topic because I felt like it was kind of beating a dead horse.  So I kind of shifted a little bit to the whole helping creative people realize, I don’t want to say their dreams, but make their ideas happen, so to speak.

So that site is currently about that now and it’s doing really well.  It’s growing like crazy actually, so I’m really happy with that.  I currently redesigned it and so that’s helped a lot too.  There’s a lot of to be said about design and quality of, perception of quality and all that.

Thursday Bram: With such a change in the direction that you were going on the site, did you have to take any steps to keep readers interested, that they wouldn’t be put off by the shift?

Glen Stansberry: Well, it’s kind of funny you mention that.  I probably should have, but I didn’t.  So it got to the point where I was just kind of sick of slogging my way through writing.  I knew I needed to write on a consistent basis and at the time I was really trying to get on Dig.  I was doing a pretty good job of that, I had gotten a few articles up there, but I hated writing for it, it felt like a chore.  I stopped writing as much, and then pretty soon it became like a post every month type thing, and I realized that that wasn’t the best use of my time, even at that point.

Unfortunately, I know it sounds selfish, but it really wasn’t a question of what my readership thought, it was more of a question of how do I keep this going?  The only way to do that, I thought, was to change topics to something I was really passionate about.  Yeah, so I guess it was more of a selfish decision, but – and I understand that people left and stop reading, but they weren’t going to be happy anyway if I stopped writing at all.

Thursday Bram: You manage LifeDev and your other projects in addition to having a full time job.  What led you to go looking for a full time job when you were already doing the freelance, the entrepreneurial approach to making a living?

Glen Stansberry: Well, that’s a good question.  So when you do – most entrepreneurs have to have multiple streams of income, otherwise, as we know unless you have venture capital or rich grandparents, you can’t just do that full time.  So I did a lot of freelance work, freelance writing was good.  I did a lot more freelance Web design and freelance development, and the freelance development and design side of things was – I enjoyed doing it, but I hated finding new clients and I hated finding work.  It just drained my soul.

So I figured that if I still liked development and design and had passion for it and all my other projects, but I hated the finding the work part, I should probably switch jobs so that I could actually not have to worry about finding work.  So today I still do design and development and I’ve improved quite a bit, but I don’t have to look for work.  Which, Thursday you’re a freelancer too, so you know that 50 percent of the time is finding work and 50 percent is –

Thursday Bram: Just 50?

Glen Stansberry: Okay yeah, that was conservative.  I hated that part of it.  So I switched jobs and I love it.  It gives me time to – I’m learning a lot, I have smart co-workers, really smart co-workers.  I’m the dummy of the group and they help me along, and I’m learning the process.  I have time to do side projects as well, so I continue to write and I continue to do work on another Web application.  So it kind of fit the needs that I was looking for at this time.

Thursday Bram: How do you balance your time in terms of getting your work done for your job and still doing all of the projects that you’re interested in?

Glen Stansberry: Well, it’s a two-part process.  The first part is you ruthlessly cut away any little project or commitment or whatever that you aren’t really excited about to only the bare minimum, and then whatever little time you have leftover, you work on that.  So what that means for me is – well, and the other side is that you tend to put in more hours.  I know some people don’t like that, but if it’s stuff that you’re really working on and love, I’ll gladly put in a couple hours a day or even a week just to keep stuff going.

So the other thing I do is my wife is a nurse and she has to be at work at 6:45 every morning.  I just get up with her and take her to work, and then I work in a coffee shop until my real job starts, and then I go to my real job.  Then I’m done at 5:00 or whatever and I can do whatever I want.

So that is how I do that.  It’s probably not the best solution.  In a perfect world I would just be working on my own Web applications and my own ideas, but for right now it works well for me.

Thursday Bram: Very interesting.  But you did say that it means that some of your projects get back burnered a little bit.

Glen Stansberry: Right…or sliced in half.

Thursday Bram: Sure.  So that would mean projects probably like Web Warrior Tools?

Glen Stansberry: Yeah.  WebWarriorTools.com. My friend Leo Babauta and I started two years ago or three years ago, and we really liked the concept at first.  But again it’s one of those projects that was kind of we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into, and also a lot of the work was, again, things that I hated.  Like finding writers or finding – it was like freelancing for me.  I had to find work and I just don’t like that side of things.  I like to just do.  I don’t like to have to go out and convince people to help me.

So I guess…wow…this has been a great interview.  I’m learning so much about myself.

Thursday Bram: Always a good sign.

Glen Stansberry: Yeah.  So yeah, the project, I mean it started off really well and we got a lot of good coverage, but it just kind of died over time because neither of us, one, really had a time for it.  But two, and probably more importantly, neither of us really had the heart for it.  It’s just the way things go sometimes and that’s the thing about life is you’ve got to be ruthless about the things you love and protect those, and everything else kind of just falls away.

Thursday Bram: But you did mention that LifeRemix, one of your other projects, you are still working on and there might be some new stuff coming?

Glen Stansberry: Yeah.  I co-founded LifeRemix.net with a friend, Brett Kelly.  So it’s done really well over the years.  It is essentially a blog network of only – I mean it’s a really small blog network, but it has really incredible writers and we were really lucky to get them on board about three years ago, I think.  But yeah, it hasn’t had a design change or functionality, nothing’s been added or taken away from it in about three years, in Web years that’s like three decades.

So it’s time for a new design and we’re working on that and some new functionality.  It’s going to be cool.

Thursday Bram: One of the things that really impressed me was the caliber of blogs that you do have in the LifeRemix network.  How did you connect with those people?  How did you find the right people and convince them to be a part of something that you were building?

Glen Stansberry: Well, honestly I just picked people that – so I went out and emailed, and I think Brett did some too.  We just emailed people that we had a lot of respect for and we enjoyed their writing.  There was a lot of factors.  We really liked what they were writing about and we really respected what they were writing about, but more importantly we could tell the kind of person they were by what they were writing and how they were interacting with people in their comments.  We figured that out before we even emailed them, and then once we emailed them, then – I mean we had a really good success rate.  It wasn’t because we’re smart guys or we knew what we were doing, we just picked what we thought were good people.

Ultimately, I mean we all started out – a lot of our blogs weren’t that popular.  I mean my still isn’t, but definitely the least common denominator of the group.  But, for example, Gretchen Rubin, when we got her onboard I don’t think she had that big of a following, and now she’s a number one New York Times bestseller, going crazy.  Leo Babauta is another one with Zen Habits.  And Chris Guillebeau of Art of Nonconformity; we just got really lucky and we just picked what we thought were good people.

You can kind of see a pattern after a while of who’s going to make it and who’s not, and who’s really passionate about something and who’s not.  Yeah, that was the formula.

Thursday Bram: There’s one thing that’s sort of stuck with me about your story.  You live in Kansas, which is not necessarily known for being a hot bed of social media.

Glen Stansberry: No.  No, not at all.

Thursday Bram: I just was wondering, how has that worked out for you?  Are there a lot of benefits to being there?  Are there some challenges you’ve had to work around?

Glen Stansberry: To be honest, for what I do, not really.  I mean, for example, Leo Babauta, he just moved, but for the past few years he’s been blogging he’s been in Guam, and Guam is probably even less of a hotbed of any type of Internet activity.  So I really don’t think location has a lot to do with it.  I don’t know, that could just be me.  But for me, I haven’t had to struggle with anything.

If I was going to go find another Monday through Friday job, it’s hard because, you’re right, the tech community isn’t as big.  But it’s actually not that bad.  I mean it’s not like San Francisco or anything, but I haven’t really had any hurdles I guess.

Thursday Bram: Okay.  So what do you see in the future?  Are you going to stick with your job, do you think?  Which projects are you really going to pursue?  What’s next?

Glen Stansberry: So yeah, I don’t want to work in a 9:00 to 5:00 job for the rest of my life.  Ideally, I would like to just work on my own projects 24/7, all the time.  But as of right now, I really like where I’m working and I really enjoy my co-workers, so I’m going to stick with that.  But on the side I’m working on a Web application called Howdy and it’s at Howdyapp.com.  Essentially what it does is it tailors your Web site for each unique visitor, in theory.

So you could set up rules based on certain factors about that visitor, like where they’re from or where they’re coming from, all these different factors, and tailor your site so that it’s most beneficial to that user, if that makes sense.  It’s kind of an abstract concept, but it’s actually working really well and I’m really excited about that.  My co-worker and I are working on it in our spare time and it’s coming along really well; I’m really excited about it.

It’s just basically all I’ve learned through blogging and writing and building Web sites.  You kind of see patterns of what works and what doesn’t, and how to change your site and things like that.  It really, it’s a great little tool so I’m excited to get it out in the public hopefully sometime very soon.

Thursday Bram: Very cool.  Okay, so here’s the tough question: if you were talking to somebody or a “group of somebodys” who were thinking about starting their own business or their own venture, what’s the one piece of advice that you absolutely would have to give them?

Glen Stansberry: If you were starting your own venture or company and you didn’t have venture capital and you were self funded, I would say do it as a hobby.  Maybe even more than a hobby, do it as something that you – well yeah, a hobby’s good.  Do it as something that you would love.  Because ultimately that’s what it has to start out as because you’re not going to make any money off of it for a long time, and if you can’t do it as something that you love it’s just not going to work.

Even if it’s just an idea, this is just me, but even if it’s an idea that I know will make money, if I’m not totally in love with the idea then I’m not going to work on it.  Because ultimately it’s not going to be a good fit for me.  It’s probably not going to make that money because I’m not going to have the passion and the desire to work on it as opposed to an idea that I really feel strongly about and have a lot of fun working on.

So my biggest piece of advice is just start it as a passion.  And then after a while, if it really is your passion, then it’ll start to bleed through on how it works, whether you’re writing or whether you’re developing a Web application, and then pretty soon, people like passion, people can sense that.  You can’t quantify it, but people know.  And then that’s, if you can make money off it and turn it into a career and it’s something that you love, that’s perfect.

(Glen Stansberry can be found at LifeDev.net and on Twitter @GlenStansberry.)


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Discussion

  1. TrafficColeman on the 5th November

    Thursday..Great interview..I never knew of Glen till today..I will be checking him out some more…

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

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