Hi, this is Morty Lefkoe with another addition of the weekly podcast, Conversations with Top Personal Development Bloggers. Every week we have a conversation with a blogger who has a slightly different take on personal development. There is so much valuable material being offered by personal development bloggers. This is the best place to find out which ones might provide you with just what you’re looking for. What is unique about each blogger, why they started writing their blog, are there personal experiences informed their blog, why you want to be reading their blog and a lot more. Today I have the pleasure of talking to Will Edwards who actually has several different blogs and he’ll tell us all about the different blogs and the different books and all the stuff he has to offer right now.
Morty: So Will, it is good to talk to you. Thanks so much for joining us on our conversation today.
Will: It is a pleasure, Morty. Thank you for inviting me.
Morty: Okay, sounds like your accent, you’re coming from the UK, some place?
Will: Yes, that’s right. I’m originally from Liverpool, and whenever I tell anyone in the US that, they always ask me if I know the Beatles.
Morty: Did you?
Will: No. No. Around about that time in the 1960’s, there was several pop groups that came from the town I lived in. And I got their autograph. I don’t know if you can remember people like The Searchers, and Billy J. Kramer. I’m not so sure if they were so international as The Beatles. But they came from my hometown.
Morty: Okay, well, what was the influence to start your blog? How did it start?
Will: Well, it’s going back sometime. It’s just over ten years ago. It was the Christmas of 2003. And I remember I was off work for a couple of weeks over Christmas, the normal Christmas holidays. And I got a bit bored just floating around home. We’ve done all the holiday stuff and I thought, I think I’ll just set up a site.
I had no idea what I was doing really. I had no vision. I had no thought for, you know, it was just a bit of fun. And I set up my site, White Dove Books. It’s the .co.uk site, not the .com, and I started thinking then, “Okay, I’ve got this site I’ve been running. What am I going to do with it?”
I just started, I see myself fundamentally as a writer, first and foremost as a writer. And I just thought, I’m going to start putting samples of my writing up there. And I ran personal development workshops and I thought I could make this into a really useful online resource for people who attended those workshops.
So that’s how it started. And the reason I called the site White Dove Books was because, although it didn’t have a clear vision for the site at that time, I knew that writing was going to be an important part of it, and as the site has matured, it has become much more of a free ebook site than a blog. I mean, it’s a blog. It’s a WordPress blog. But it’s much more focused around providing free e-books which, as I say, there are samples of my writing. I also sell my own books but I give books away as well.
Morty: Okay. So how long have you been writing this now? You said 2003? Christmas 2003?
Will: Yeah, that’s right. So just over ten years. And during that time I’ve started lots of little projects. I often have a little idea for a site and I generally just started and see what happens. And if it takes off, it takes off. If it flops, I’ll just allow it to die. So over the years, I don’t know, I may have started about twenty or thirty sites. I’ve got three main sites, it’s the White Dove Books sites, the site I told you about. There’s MotivateTube which is motivational videos, and there’s Monify Me, which really charts my entrepreneurial journey. So it’s really me telling people what it is I’m doing and how I make money doing what I do. And so, and really, that’s a lot of fun to write. I write about the good times and the bad times and what happens when Google changes its algorithm and how that affects me and so on, and really, really enjoy doing that.
Morty: Oh, that’s great. Okay. What’s your background in personal development? What got you into this field to begin with?
Will: Yeah, a long time ago, I think probably in excess of twenty years ago. I was involved in IT, I was a Technical Manager for Apricot Computers which was the largest UK computer company. Sadly, they no longer exist.
Morty: A lot of companies twenty years ago no longer exist.
Will: Yeah. And so, I left the company eventually and I decided to give sales a go. I’ve done everything in the IT industry except sales. And I thought I would have a crack at it. And I was useless at selling. But it was my first exposure to what we would call personal development material. And I was instantly hooked. I was about forty at the time and I thought, how can you live on the planet for forty years without ever having come across this stuff before? So I was really hooked. I listened to these tapes.
Morty: Let me stop you one sec. I don’t understand. How did studying selling lead you to personal development?
Will: I was really trying to learn how to sell but one of the courses I listened to, which was a series of tapes, was much more focused around personal goals and mission.
Morty: Got it. Okay.
Will: And that’s really what got me into it. I think it was put together as sales material. And I think the thing is that many salespeople do get exposed to this type of material. I might say it’s different here in the UK to the US. There’s a great tradition of this type of literature in the US, going back, you know, as Stephen Covey says, “Write the way back to 1789.” And so it’s hundreds of years of it. But in the UK, if you, ten or twenty years ago, if you went into a leading bookstore, you would not find this material and yet over the last ten, fifteen or so years, there’s been a massive proliferation of this type of material. And of course, it was all there, already written in the US so all of that stuff has come in to the UK. But, yeah, that was a nugget of gold that came out of my first exposure to sales that I certainly started thinking about things differently. It made me really stop and think, “Hang on a second, what is my life about? What am I here to achieve? What is my life purpose? What is my mission? And what are the most important things I want to achieve?” And so I didn’t stay in sales but that was a watershed moment for me.
Will: And I moved back into the technical side of the IT industry. And I started using this material. I started using it when I was a manager and I started using it in the way I managed people. And then later on, I realized that it was, it becomes so important to me and so useful to me that I wanted to teach it and I started teaching it to technical people. And so the company I worked for at the time, this is going back maybe fifteen years or so, were quite cutting edge in that they had the vision and the understanding that this stuff would be useful taught to technical people rather than sales people. And I developed a number of workshops and courses for that company and taught them. For the past ten or eleven years or so, I was doing that and thoroughly enjoying it.
Morty: Oh, great. That’s exciting. Were there any particular personal experiences you’ve had that are useful? The first one was the awareness in taking that selling course. There was this whole area of personal development. But are they any particular things that happened to you or had you grow and then say, “Wait a minute, this is something I could share?”
Will: Yeah. I think there are a number of such moments in my life I can really remember. I would listen to some of these tapes over and over again because I enjoyed them so much. And I think I was listening to the tape by Zig Ziglar, the late great Zig.
Will: And I’ve heard him say this many times before because I listened to it so many times but on this particular day when I heard him say something to the effect of, “How can you hope to hit a target that you haven’t set?” Those words really, really resonated with me and it was one of those moments when I thought, you know what, I’ve been listening to this stuff for years. Isn’t it about time actually I did something with it?
I remember taking myself off to place not far away from where I now live. I live in a beautiful part of the world here in England in the National Park, Exmoor. And I took myself off to Clevedon, which is not as far away from where I live, and I took a flask of soup, and a notepad and a pen and I was there for a few hours. I sat at the end of the pier, and I deliberately chose to go there because it’s somewhere that’s inspirational and it’s somewhere I felt I could be alone for a few hours with my thoughts.
I worked through this exercise that Zig had given. Writing down. He begins his book with his book, See you at the top, with the words, “You can go where you want to go. You can be what you want to be. You can do what you want to do.” And one of the things he suggests is that you start writing all of that down. You start to write everywhere you want to go, everything you want to be, everything you want to do down.
He says, “You might think it would take you forever but, actually within the first hour or two, you’ll have done most of that,” and I find that to be true. I mean, maybe after the first couple of hours, you might go back in and add a few things on. But most of what’s in there, most of what’s within you will be on the paper within a couple of hours.
And then there was a question of looking through that material and sort of distilling from what you’ve written, what are the key things here? What are the things that recur? What are the things that really motivate me? What are the things that really interest me? And it was a kind of soul searching which is the kind of preliminary spade work, I think, to identifying who you are and why you’re here, why you’re fundamentally here and what you’re here to achieve. So that was a big moment for me.
Morty: Right good. Got it, thanks for saying so much. That’s an interesting way to start. Who would you say is your typical audience nowadays? You have any sense of your demographics? Who they are, what they’re interested in, why they’re at your site?
Will: It’s interesting. I have discovered that most of them are middle aged to, how can you put it, to senior citizens. So what’s that generation called? It’s not generation X, is it? It’s the baby boom generation.
Will: From the tools I’ve been able to use and I’ve discovered that they’re mostly female, so more females than male.
Will: And mostly US. Mostly US citizens.
Morty: Mostly US. That’s interesting.
Will: Yes. And a fair number of Christians amongst them.
Morty: Okay, interesting. Would you say you have essence of your message, is there any particular message? It actually sounded as if you might have three totally different messages on each one of your three blogs?
Will: Well, I put them together because they belong together really. They’re not unrelated themes. Motivational videos or inspirational videos. It’s totally related to what I’m doing with books, writing inspirational books.
The Monify Me site was just the desire to, there are a lot of other people who want to do what I’ve done. They want to start a successful blog and they look to people who’ve done it, to try to discover, well, what is it that they’re actually doing? And I thought, yeah, that would be an interesting blog and it will be interesting and quite a natural thing for me to do, to just shot my progress as a writer.
So the three things are linked together but if I have an over-arching message, I would say it’s about life purpose. It’s that this is life. We’re here once. It’s not a dress rehearsal. This is your life. Make sure you’re doing the right thing with it. I mean, I’ve never always believed that life holds a specific purpose for everybody.
So that was somewhere along the line, I came to believe that. And I do, I do firmly believe that now. If you’re a religious person, then obviously that messages ties up with your faith but I also think for people who are not religious, it’s still an important message that life has meaning and purpose. And you are here to make a difference.
Morty: Got it. Very good. Thank you. How often do you post? How often do you write for your blog?
Will: I try to post every day. That could be on any mixture of those three blogs because they’re all linked together. And they’re not just linked together on the menu at the site. They all feed into the newsletter which is generated automatically from the RSS feeds of the blogs. So the three RSS feeds of those blogs are aggregated and they drive the newsletter. So the newsletter’s produced automatically every five posts. So for that reason, I’d like to post everyday on at least one of those blogs.
Morty: Got it.
Will: And that way, the newsletter comes out about once every five days.
Morty: Got it. Very good. Is there anything you would say is unique about your blog? You may or may not be familiar with the literally hundreds of other personal development bloggers, but to the extent you are familiar with any of them, is there something you would say that this is unique, this is something about my message or how I go about communicating this that’s unique compared to most other people?
Will: Well, it’s my own thinking. It’s my own take on these universal themes. I don’t try to regurgitate what other people have said. Obviously, there is a certain amount of that because we’re dealing with the common themes and there are some central principles which are undeniable so we were talking about vision and mission and goals and so.
But I’ve given all of these things a lot of personal thought and if I write a book, it’s never regurgitation of what somebody else has said. It’s original thinking. So, that’s what I think the main thing is that sets my blog apart from other people in the same genre.
In addition to that, I would just say that we try very hard to provide top quality. And we give a lot of stuff away too, and if there is a one technical thing that separates my blog from others, for last year I’ve developed a plug-in so that other people can put my free books on their blog. And that was done in response to the Google algorithm changes which took place last year, which seriously impacted the traffic.
So, as a consequence, believe that was necessary was to come up with a business model which would be independent of Google for its main traffic source. I mean, White Dove Books was very well ranked on Google and still got decent rankings but it was still ranked from many, many terms on page one.
We got about 1.7 million visitors a year so it was a significant chunk of traffic and that’s been seriously impacted. And I thought, well, okay, I’m not going to play the Google game again. I’m not going back to trying to be on the front page of Google. I’ll let other people do that. But what I would be able to do is to deliver my books through their site. And in addition, allow them to earn commission in the process.
So that’s something which I think is unique. I mean, I’m not a programmer as such although I have programmed and I have even taught programming. I don’t consider myself to be a programmer. And certainly not a PHP programmer but I did program the plug-in myself. It was my own idea.
Morty: Very interesting.
Will: And I did it myself.
Morty: Great. Well, congratulations.
Will: Well, thank you.
Morty: People do have to stay one step ahead or at least one close step behind Google’s algorithm changes. Do you have a long-term goal for your blog?
Will: Well, I would say, well, I’ve got the blog’s mission statement here which, our mission is to help people develop their own unique talents, abilities and passion in order that they may lead more meaningful, joyful and fulfilled lives. I mean, that’s just not lip service. That is what the blog is about. And in terms of how do we make that a reality, it’s a question of the visionist to become the best source of quality free e-books in the genre. That’s the vision, if you like, or a long-term goal for White Dove Books.
With regards to the plug-in and the developments of the plug-in, I’m actively seeking to partner with other leading writers in the genre. Other people who are like me who have quality products to offer, I want to partner with those people and offer their products thru my plug-in.
What the plug-in gives me access to is a lot of affiliates. There are a lot of people installing plug-in on their sites. So, as I said earlier, that’s kind of become my primary source of traffic. And what I want to do is to work with other people so that we can provide a quality service.
Morty: Very good. Okay. Did you have, do you accept comments on your blog? Do you get comments?
Will: Yeah, I do. I do publish comments on White Dove Books and also on Monify Me. I turn commenting off on MotivateTube. But yeah, I do accept comments. They have to be meaningful and relevant and not the spammy things that you often get.
And if there’s anything just as good posts or something, I don’t generally publish that type of comment. But if it’s a meaningful comment, even if it disagrees with what I’ve written, I will publish it because it gives me an opportunity to reply and so engage with people. So I’m very happy to do that.
Morty: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I actually invite people and say, “I’m interested in your comments on this topic but I’m just as interested in disagreements as agreements. I’m just interested in your thinking.” So that’s great. Do you take the time to respond to comments? Do you actually answer people?
Will: Yes, I do. Yes. I mean some comments I think they’re not really expecting a reply. It’s a comment, a meaningful comment. But other comments, really, really are trying to engage and perhaps even asking a question. And where I feel a comment is appropriate, I do reply.
Morty: Very good. You may have said this when you read your mission for your blog, but I guess what your mission in life and how does writing your blog contribute to it, is what you read for the mission of your blog, your personal mission?
Will: No, it’s not. No.
Morty: You have a personal mission that the blog is sort of a manifestation of?
Will: Yes. I think that’s exactly right. Yes, exactly.
Morty: What is your personal mission?
Will: Okay. I very rarely tell people what it is but it’s to walk humbly with God. And to encourage other people to live more meaningful lives. Actually, there’s been a long time since I’ve tried to recall it from memory. I’m sure there are three elements to it, not two, but that’s the essence of it.
Morty: Great, thank you. And the blog seeks to contribute to it.
Will: Yeah, absolutely.
Morty: Helping people live more meaningful lives.
Will: Yes, yes. I guess I really did feel called into what I do. I felt called into a ministry of encouragement which was the actual phrase. And for a long time, I felt that calling but I didn’t know how that would be played out. I didn’t know how it would be manifested.
And it was a way of gaining another one of those moments where all of the pennies drop and things clicked into place. And I realized that my love of personal development and what I’ve been teaching and me starting the blog, it was really all part of the same thing.
Morty: Got it. That covers most of the material that I was interested in asking you about. Is there anything else you’d like our audience to know about you personally or about your blog? Obviously the people who are going to be listening to this conversation and the reading the text of it, the transcript, are people who are in some way interested in personal growth and for the most part, this is going to be an opportunity to introduce you and your blog to them.
So is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you’d like them to know about you or your blog that might indicate why they ought to start paying more attention to you?
Will: Well, I don’t think there’s anything I want to add.
Will: I think we probably covered most of what was on mind to say about the blog. We have a great newsletter. We offer a lot of great free personal development material. Certainly, when I started the site, I had this vision for White Dove Books, as to say, developed over time but I had this vision of the site which was full of all these free e-books, hundreds of them.
And when it came down to actually doing that, I felt, well, where are all these hundreds of books going to come from? It’ll take me years to write them. So I started writing some and I started paying other people to write books for me. And I also started purchasing the rights to some books and I published, it’s a mixture of books there.
Over the years, as I’ve started looking at some of these books, I was paying people good money to write for me, I felt oh my goodness, this really does one seriously tidying up. So I’ve changed the site a lot really. There’s one page of free books there at the moment. I think about thirteen free e-books on the first page.
And what I’m gradually doing is I’m gradually going through, there were sixty-four there, gradually going through all of them proofreading them, knocking them into good shape and re-publishing them. But anyway, what I would say is, we’ve got a great site with lots of good quality free information, a good quality newsletter too. And people love it, and we love doing it.
Morty: Well, that’s great. Well, thank you so much. What’s the URL for your blog? How are we going to find it?
Will: Sure, it’s whitedovebooks.co.uk.
Morty: White Dove, D-O-V-E, books, b-o-o-k-s.co.uk.
Will: That’s right.
Morty: Not dot com. It’s a UK site, so it’s .co.uk.
Will: That’s right.
Morty: Well, thank you so much.
Will: Before you go Morty, before you go, I have come across you before I think. I think you have a personal development product in ClickBank, is that right?
Morty: I don’t think I have anything in ClickBank. I might have had something a long time ago but I don’t really use ClickBank anymore.
Morty: I just sell on my own site or sometimes affiliates. But I have my own blog that I write on a weekly basis. Generally, pretty long thousand to two thousand words. What I wrote yesterday is just a little over two thousands words. So they’re pretty long think pieces. Almost small ebooks.
Will: Absolutely. Yeah.
Morty: But I don’t think I’m on ClickBank. But we have an audience in the UK. I’ve written some guest posts for Steve Asherson in the UK.
Morty: And if you take a look at my audience people who come to us to either read our blog or come to us for private sessions, UK is one of the top areas that they come from. So we have a bit of an audience there.
Will: Well, I should go have a look at your blog then sign up for a new session if you have one. It will be fun to do that.
Morty: Okay. Well thank you again so much for your time Will. I wish you the best of luck. It sounds like you’re doing something really worthwhile and that material should certainly be checked out by everybody.
It may or may not be everybody’s cup of tea but the one thing that I seem to be finding with all of the bloggers is, some cases they’re more focused on career or money or different things, but the one thing that’s in common with all of the top bloggers is that they don’t write with the common stuff.
They write what their personal experience is. They all write from themselves, that’s what makes sense to them, what’s real for them. Sometimes it’s totally original, sometimes it’s not. But it’s not copied from any place else. It’s not a compilation of other things. It’s an expression of who they are. And obviously, you’ve become a top blogger and obviously, you’re using the same basic approach.
Now what you say may be similar, may be different but it’s authentic and I think it’s the authenticity that’s making for the personal bloggers who are particularly successful. So I thank you so much for your time and I’m looking forward to putting this up so lots more people can find out about you and come visit you. Take care, Will.
Will: Thank you, Morty.