This is an interview with Henrik Edberg – the founder and author of the 40 000+ reader blog, the Positivityblog – focused on positivity and opening up new possibilities for happiness and awesomeness through motivating and practical articles on how to improve your life.
Henrik is a huge inspiration to me personally and I’m super excited to share his answers with you today.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where did you grow up and what did you think as a young child that you were going to become or what did you think you were going to do after high-school?
Well, I grew up in the south of Sweden, in city called Vaxjo. When I was a kid I loved to read and sometimes wrote and drew my own comic books. The interest in reading and writing was something that that stuck with me as I got older.
I wrote about movies and music in various online magazines when I was a teenager, created one popular website about Bruce Springsteen and one about the music group New Order about 10 years ago and by the time I had spent a few semesters with film studies at the Gothenburg University I decided that I was going to be a journalist. So I studied journalism for a few years at the University and at the end of that period I also started up The Positivity Blog as a way to express myself and write about my new big interest: personal development.
What did you do after high-school, and in retrospect would you have made the same choice now as you did back then?
Before I went off to Gothenburg in 2001 I did my 10 months of mandatory military service and also worked as a computer salesman for about 10 months. The military service quickly became quite boring but it grew my patience which is something I have had much use of during these last few years as a blogger. So that is one experience I would have wanted to have even if I could choose again.
If I knew what I know now I probably would have done most of the rest of the things I did too (although I would have studied for a semester or two less, at times I was pretty aimless). I would have also pursued personal development earlier, I didn’t get into that until I was about 24 years old.
What led you to start Positivityblog.com and did you ever think that it was going to grow as big and successful as it is now?
No, I could never have imagined that so many people would read it each day. I was pretty surprised at the beginning that people actually started to read it, commenting and recommending it to their friends. It was fun but quite surprising to me that people seemed to like it that much. The blog was just a small and fun hobby at first but it pretty quickly got thousands of readers so I realized that this may be something I could make into my own small business instead of just a hobby.
You started Positivityblog.com back in 2006, and today it has 41000 subscribed readers. How long did it take you to make a decent income from your blog?
Well, it probably took me two years to make about 500 dollars per month. Which is kinda slow, but I had some odd and misguided idea that all I needed to do to earn more was basically to write more and better. While that was a very important part it was also important to look at this as a business and to figure out how I could make money besides from advertising (like from selling my own products and affiliate sales). Also, during the first two years the work I put in was at times pretty sporadic and unfocused so that did not exactly maximize the flow of readers or income.
Can you share some tips that were a key part of the growth of your online business/blog?
Hmm. The first tip is to write really helpful articles. The stuff people really want to know so they can improve their lives. This is not always easy, but if you do that and put in the hard work then you tend to get more and more readers. So spend a lot of time on actually taking action and on creating. Not on thinking about doing those things.
The second tip is to learn about how things work. I read a lot of the archives of problogger.net when I started so I knew how many things about blogging worked. And over the years I have learned more as new social media has popped up like Twitter and Facebook. Understanding how to use these tools makes it a lot easier to attract more readers and to grow your blog.
A third tip is to not stop at writing articles. I wrote a free 47 page e-book about happiness and anyone that subscribes to my newsletter gets the book. This has helped me gain a lot of loyal readers from all the people that pass by the blog for the first time each week. I have written two larger e-books with workbooks and audio guides and now they are my biggest income stream from the blog. Doing things like these is harder work than just writing a blog post but the rewards for all that work is also larger.
Negativity and limiting beliefs are the biggest obstacles that hold us back from living a happy life and from taking action to change the things we aren’t happy with (e.g. our job, relationship or social circle). What is your advice to overcoming negativity, where do you start?
One place to start to look the biggest influences in your life right now. Take a look at the people you socialize with, the newspapers you read, the music you listen to and the books you read. Are they supportive and positive for you? Or are they holding your back and dragging you down?
If these influences are negative then find ways to minimize your time with those influences or cut them out completely. Then replace the time you spend with those sources with more time with the positive and optimistic sources you already have in your life and new ones you can find. You can do this little by little. And you can take small steps to try other new things too. The important thing is that you get started and get some new experiences. With some new experiences and better influences your beliefs about things and your results will start to change.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to quit their 9 to 5 job and start a business of their own?
Stick with your 9-5 job and work on your business on evenings and weekends. It usually takes time – longer time than you want it to – to make enough money through your business to quit your regular job. At least I think that is the case here online. It takes a couple of years to start making a decent income.
Also, make sure that you develop a schedule and routines so you make the most of the time you can spend on your business. I and many others have wasted too much time online without having gotten that much done.
Do you recommend building an online business?
I would recommend it if you are the right person for it. There are many kinds of online businesses of course but a few things you usually have to have or develop to make this work I think are: patience and persistence, good work habits, being able to work alone and being able to make decisions and take full responsibility.
This is not easy. I quickly grew a pretty popular blog, it had almost 4000 subscribers after the first year. But I fumbled around with the business side and it took me a long time to make a good income from it all.
But it is also a lot of fun. I make all the decisions. I can write about anything I want and tens of thousands of people will read what I wrote. I can sleep in every day. I get thank you emails every day from people who have been helped through small and very large problems thanks to my blog.
I have certainly have had times when I just wanted to give up and go home. But somehow I always continued. I’m very glad I did because I really love doing this. It is a very good fit for me.
Any last words of advice or wisdom you want to leave the readers with?
That things can change for the better even if you don’t think it can right now. Back in 2004 I was pretty lost. I was overweight, I was one of the most unproductive persons you’d ever encounter, I was really shy and socially not very good at all. I hadn’t had a date in ages. My confidence was low and I was pretty pessimistic about most things.
Today things are very different. I’m in shape. I have meaningful and fun work to do. I work harder and smarter than I ever have before. I am confident in myself and my abilities. I am much more open socially and have an awesome girlfriend. And there are so many more things to explore, so many more things to do and experience in life.
So there is hope. You really can change your life in a dramatic way. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Thank you for the opportunity, Diggy! I hope your readers will get something good out this interview.
Henrik Edberg is the Author and Creator of the Positivityblog and an incredibly inspiring and remarkable guy.
The Positivity Blog is focused on positivity and opening up new possibilities for happiness and awesomeness through motivating and practical articles on how to improve your life.
Have a look at his blog and if you want to spread the word, click ‘Like‘ or ‘Tweet‘ below.