This case study kicks off a new series at Copyblogger: Real-world stories of people like you who have used the “Copyblogger method” of content marketing to strengthen their businesses, launch strong new projects, and do epic work.
We’re starting with the story of versatile content marketer Aurélien Amacker. Sonia Simone met him at a marketing conference late last year, and they immediately hit it off.
Aurélien was a great example of someone who had refused to fit himself into the comfortable, cubicle-shaped box that was expected of him … and has made a great business and life for himself. He’s entrepreneurial, a nonconformist, but also an eminent pragmatist.
He’s also a longtime Copyblogger fan, and he’s based his content marketing strategies on the ideas he’s been reading on this blog.
And he’s living proof that content marketing transcends culture. Aurélien lives and writes in France, but he could as easily be in Brazil or Japan or Norway or South Africa. Like the rest of us, he listens carefully to the needs and desires of his particular audience … and then gives that audience precisely what they’re craving.
Here’s Sonia’s interview with Aurélien:
A short interview with Aurélien Amacker …
What is your site, and what do you write about?
I own four blogs — one is about personal development (how to get out of the cubicle), two about internet marketing (how to make money online), and one about learning English. I left university without being able to speak English, and I learned it on my own.
What kinds of content are most important to your business? Blog? Email list?
Both are important because the blogs allow me to build my list and create a relationship with my readers, while the emails I send to my list allow me to nurture the relationship and make money.
Who are your readers and how do you serve them?
Mostly they are people trying to get more of their life. They are not satisfied with their job or they want to make extra income so they can live their dreams.
Here in France TV newscasters are so pessimist all the time. All they can talk about is the economic crisis. It’s so depressing. So I think people are starving for more optimistic ways of looking at things. I try to inspire them with my articles, or to teach them something of value (like how to start a blog or how to speak English). I sell products to teach people how to make money blogging.
Do you think blogging is different in France than in the U.S.?
I think it’s the same. Most of the bloggers are amateurs just willing to share their thoughts online. Then a few bloggers try to make a living out of it by publishing great content, attracting traffic and then monetizing it. On the French market, we are lucky though — because the Americans are more advanced, we just have to watch what you do and do the same. It’s like having a crystal ball!
What was your situation before you started blogging? Were you always a business owner, or did you have a more traditional career?
I started my career as a systems and network engineer. Then I tried to work in sales, but I got fired after six months. So I went to Australia, where I spent two years. When I came back to Paris, it was clear to me that I didn’t want to go back to a corporate job. So I started looking around for another opportunity.
Why do you think you became an independent business owner and blogger, when most people just stick with the career they have, even if it’s unsatisfying? What’s different about you?
Funny story — because it all happened in one day. Six months after I came back from Australia, I hadn’t yet found an opportunity, so I started to look for a job in the corporate world.
One company offered me a job with a very good salary, but the same day I had lunch with a blogger who was making (at that time) about 500 euros a month. I had been blogging for two years at that point, but I didn’t have many visitors (like 5 or 10 a day) and I wasn’t making any money from blogging.
But I thought, “Hey, if I start working full time on my blog, I think I can do better than this blogger.” (He was running his blog as a side gig from his day job at that time.) And if I tried full-time blogging, I could keep traveling.
So I declined the job offer (one of the toughest decision I’ve ever made — my mom wasn’t too happy about it) and I decided I would dedicate one year to traveling and trying to make money out of my blog.
I started making a few hundred euros a month, and after six months I reached the one thousand euro mark. And I did it all while traveling in Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary). Then I went to Colombia (where I met the woman of my dreams!)
Of course, I was afraid to fail. But at the same time I thought, “Worst case scenario, I’ll get a job in an office. What’s so terrible about that?”
Having a “What-is-the-worst-thing-that-can-happen?” mindset is very powerful when you need to make decisions.
What did you learn that helped you when you were getting started?
I was very dedicated, so I met all the bloggers I could, so I can learn from them. I also invested in my first online course — it was Yaro Starak’s Blog Mastermind. I learned how to drive traffic to my blog, how to monetize the site, and how to improve my positioning.
But you know what? Most people fail not because they don’t know what to do — but because they don’t do it.
And because I had no choice, I kept doing it. And that is why I succeeded.
What challenges did you face along the way?
For any business, the hardest part is getting started. And working online is fighting against yourself. So I learned a lot of techniques to be more productive.
With time, I also learned what strategies are efficient to grow an online business and what strategies aren’t.
Now as my business grows, I’m facing different challenges (I’m now managing a team of two) but I love to learn and I’m passionate about what I do.
How important is your blog to your business?
My blogs allow me not to depend entirely on my affiliates to get leads. Plus it’s a way to position myself on my market.
What does your business look like today?
It’s pretty modest compared to what I see in the US. [Editor's note: Actually, a lot of U.S.-based businesses would be delighted with Aurélien's revenue numbers.] Every day about 5,000 people visit my blogs, and 100 people subscribe to one of my newsletters. I’ve got a list of customers of about 1500 people.
What’s next for you? What are your upcoming goals?
Like a guitar player, I want to master what I do. So I read one book every week about personal development or marketing, to learn new stuff and keep me inspired.
I’m lucky to have two amazing guys on my team, and I want to take them as far as I can. So I want to grow my business as much as I can.
But it’s not about money. My business allows me to live the life I was dreaming of when I was stuck in an office six years ago. Last month I was in the U.S., this month I’m in Colombia, next month I’ll be back to France.
I can work whenever I want. I can cook my lunches, so I can eat healthy food. I can take a nap after lunch. I can wander in the street while everybody is at work. I can work out every day. Plus I love my work. I love to learn. I love the people I work with.
It’s not about money anymore. It’s about being happy
Introducing Copyblogger Case Studies
This post is the kick-off for our new series of content marketing case studies. Over the next few months, we’ll feature inspiring stories of bloggers and content creators — and we’ll be asking them to share their success secrets with you.
To get the full series, watch for future posts here on Copyblogger.
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About the Author: Beth Hayden is an author, speaker, and social media expert who specializes in Pinterest marketing. To find out how to get more traffic to your website or blog using Pinterest, grab your free copy of Beth’s e-book, The Definitive Guide to Driving Traffic with Pinterest.