Interview With David Leggett – Founder Of Tutorial9
David is a 20 year old blogger who in the last 6 months has shown he’s definitely got what it takes to dominate a niche. Since launching his site a few months ago he has the rank of top young blogger on Retireat21 and has reached nearly 9000 RSS readers! This interview offers some great advice for bloggers young or old!
First off – can we have a little background information on you David – Where you live? How old you are? (if you don’t mind answering) What motivates you? What inspires you?
Howdy, I’m David Leggett, an independent blogger from Atlanta, GA. I’m 20 years old, and have been designing websites since the age of 10 (no joke – my parents thought HTML was a normal hobby for 10-year-olds I suppose). The internet inspires and motivates me with it’s enourmous oppurtunity to help and teach others as well as with how much there is to learn online.
I actually love to teach. Design is sort of my passion. I combined the two, invited some friends to come along, and started up a little project called Tutorial9, where we teach anything and everything that interests us.
Aside from all that, I’m a learning photographer, a Frisbee enthusiast, a gamer, and somewhat of a political activist.
Tutorial9 is the worlds most popular, most free Photoshop Tutorial site for beginners and professionals. We do not however only write about Photoshop We’re slowly expanding into offering Photography, Web, and other Design lessons as well as offering quite a few free resources for designers along the way.
I launched Tutorial9 back in May of 2008 after 6 months of planning and preparing. I really enjoy teaching, and helping others (as well as learning), and It is my hope to transform Tutorial9 into a universal tutorial site for everything from design to flying a kite… to create a “Tutorial Bliss” if you will. For the time being, I use it to focus on my primary interest which is visual and web design.
At this point Tutorial9 has nearly 10,000 Subscribed readers, functions as one of my full-time jobs, and brings me great joy as I get to speak with so many interesting people in the industy.
2) A lot of Retireat21’s readers are also designers, what advice would you give to someone who wants to go from website designer to internet entrepreneur like your self?
I’m a very young, and by comparison very inexperienced designer compared to many names in the design community. For my short experience as a designer, I’ve learned a few important things that I hold to be true (at this point anyways). First and foremost, I think it’s important to do something you enjoy doing. If you decide to take the path of the internet entrepreneur you’ll have a much easier time with your work if you really like what you do.
I think it’s also important to balance the rate at which you “Do” and the rate at which you “Learn”. I see far too many people constantly learning new and better things without ever putting their knowledge to use. I myself put too much of what I know to use without learning new tricks. It’s a balancing act, and a vital component to online success.
3) In just over 6 months you have managed to take Tutorial9 to a very high level in terms of traffic, how did you manage to achieve such a large and growing audience?
There’s usually no easy way to success in Blogging. Folks have tried to sell me on different methods for quick and easy success online in the past, and we’ll probably have to endure with these idealists for years to come probably.
Even though I don’t think becoming successful online is necessarily easy, the process for becoming successful is not a mystery by any means. It takes hard work, a unique approach, and being as incredibly useful to as many people as possible (just like so many other forms of success). For Tutorial9 this meant 100 hour work weeks when we first started, producing content that really helped our viewers, offering free resources that would be widely beneficial to our audience, and even investing thousands of dollars into hiring contributors to offer more useful content.
Strategies for building websites varies of course, but as a general rule of thumb I’d say it’s important to evaluate your own content from an outsiders perspective, “Would I use this website if I weren’t the designer?”
4) I remember running my tutorial website back in 2005 when Adsense was a great source of income for tutorial sites, what would you suggestion to young entrepreneurs trying to make money online with tutorial sites today?
If you’re looking to monetize your sites, I’d recommend trying out multiple streams of revenue. I’ve been slowly trying to ditch AdSense just because it annoys me, but it monetizes alright. I’ve personally been very successful with direct ad sales through BuySellAds.com. I’ve had some success with affiliate links, especially through Amazon.
Don’t focus to much on monetization though. Sure it’s necessary, but it can really put people off and distract you from what’s most important, your viewers.
5) What should tutorial website owners be doing right now to help stand out from the crowd?
It seems like List Posts are the big thing to do right now. Actually, probably 90% of the newer Tutorial/Design blogs I see that seem alright tend to be entirely list posts. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily – I’m sure lots of people like lists – but try to mix up the kind of posts you make and broaden your writing style. For some of you, that might mean spend a few more hours every week developing a free resource. For some it might mean putting in A LOT more time to writing a good tutorial.
And for others, it might be time to make a list post or two.
6) What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date and what did you learn from this accomplishment?
Well, I’m currently hosting a contest at Tutorial9 called the Gift of Knowledge Giveaway . People submit guests posts for a chance to win prizes, and we donate $100 to “Save the Children ” for every accepted entry. My goal is to send $5,000, but I’d consider it a HUGE accomplishment if I could get just one viewer to sponsor a child for as little as $30 a month.
It took me a long time to realize that the internet isn’t everything.
7) You have published over 100 tutorials on Photoshop, how are you able to publish so much content and at such a high quality? Any suggestions on how to come up with ideas for content?
300 if you count previous endeavors! Darren Rowse introduced me to Mind Mapping which I think is a very useful way for visual people like myself to develop topics to write about.
I also keep several writeboards and notebooks around the house to write down and develop posting ideas and strategies. I actually have a 12 foot long whiteboard that I can collaborate with co-workers on in one room of the house!
8) Is there any online business that you didn’t get involved in (apart from say Google) – that later when you looked back, you wished you had thought of that idea?
Not really, but I have a few Million-Dollar ideas of my own that I’d like to eventually move forward with.
9) Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on? (You can name more than one person)
Collis Ta’eed is always very helpful, very kind, and he’s also an insanely generous guy. I only know about him through what he does online, but I have a feeling he’s the same kind of person outside of the internet. My close friends and I joke about him being my archnemesis because we run “Competing” tutorial sites (there’s no competition really, and if there were Collis who runs PSDTUTS would have been declared the winner long ago), but he’s truly someone I aspire to be more like.
Darren Rowse from ProBlogger is another guy who just continually gives. If more people had the same kind of work ethic as Darren, there would be no room for new Bloggers online. He’s a very personable kind of guy too, almost always responds to my questions on Twitter or anywhere else I see him. I think it’s great when people who obviously don’t have all the time in the world for all of their followers take as much time as possible to be friendly with their fans.
10) Do you have any favourite photoshop related or webmaster related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs or designers?
“Don’t Make Me Think ” by Steve Krug might be the best $25 you’ll ever spend as a Designer.
11) What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Never turn down free food.
12) What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur starting their first business?
Don’t consider it a full time job until it’s really making a full time income. Do something you really enjoy doing. Invest as much time as possible making your product as useful and likeable as possible.
13) What do you like best about the Internet?
The community aspect of the Internet keeps surprising me. Efforts seem to be coordinated on the spot to do meaningful (sometimes meaningless) things or to complete important tasks. In the past year I’ve evserything from thousands of bloggers coming together to help fight hunger and poverty, to hundrends of Diggers come together to complete a 1000 reply chain of “1000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”.
14) What do you like least about the Internet?
It’s not personable. It’s getting better no doubt, but I’d still rather go to a conference with some friends to hear a speaker talk about web design instead of going to that speakers blog and reading about web design all alone.
15) Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?
On the to-do list this year:
- Make UX Booth THE User Experience Blog and go-to place for web designers interested in UX.
- 20,000 Readers at Tutorial9
- Find more ways to help the community, both online and off