The #1 organic Google search result for “mobile strategy consulting” is Jonathan Stark. He even ranks above IBM for that search term, and giant companies like Accenture have to pay to get on the first page for it.
How did he get there? Did he use SEO consultants, heavy-duty inbound link-building, and the latest Google-manipulation techniques to claw his way to that #1 spot?Nope.In this 45-minute interview with Jonathan, he explains how he did it. I’ll spill a few of the beans now: it involves passion, authenticity, and consistent focus. And sharing. A LOT of sharing.Jonathan spills the rest of the beans on how you build the kind of authority that results in a six-figure consulting consulting contract landing in your lap as you walk off the stage at a major conference. No kidding, this is something that happened to him.The audio and text transcript are below. Enjoy!I’m going to be opening up new My Content Sherpa seats on July 22. If you’re on the waiting list, you’ll get first crack at reserving your seat so you can start building your company’s online authority every month.
How did you choose a focus? I have a technical background. From what I know of developers, they’re just naturally curious people, right?Jonathan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).Philip: They’re interested in what’s new. They’re interested in what’s related to what they already know. You’ve had a consistent focus for a number of years. How did you get that focus and how did you maintain it?Jonathan: Great question. I’ve had … I’ll give you a little background because I think it’ll give you the context that you’re looking for.Philip: Great.Jonathan: The short answer is I just pick stuff that I’m just like obsessed with, like I couldn’t help myself from doing it. There is a little bit of self-control involved in what you share and how you position is, so that you’re not just randomly sharing stuff. It relates to your topic area. In some way, it might be this. Like I might post something about like, I don’t know, Oculus Rift or movie studios or like Internet regulations about net neutrality, but I’ll tie it back to why I care about it. The reason I care about it is because of mobile or whatever, or the mobile web, even more specifically.The background is that back in the day, I was a database guy. I came from a database background and I was introduced to a product in, I think, around 1999 called FileMaker which is like a desktop database thing that … If people aren’t familiar with it, it makes it incredibly easy to create a multi-user database backed view application. It’s super powerful. It’s kind of a toy in one sense. It’s very simple, but it is incredibly powerful if you use it the way it’s meant to be used, I guess.I was really excited about that for a few year and I did consulting on that and built upon just stuff and started writing about it, blogging about it. Then I ended up writing magazine articles about it. One thing just led to another and then the FileMaker … The whole time though, I knew that there were some limitations to FileMaker that are deal breakers for me. I really liked it, the power of it, but the whole time I was learning how to do web development, because I wasn’t a web developer really yet.By the time I got to the point where I felt like I knew what I was doing with PHP, I was like, “Okay, I need to make this shift from FileMaker to PHP because that’s really where I want to go. I want to play in that bigger realm.” Very consciously, I started blogging about using FileMaker with PHP. Because I already a reputation with FileMaker community. I was sharing lots of like AppleScript, macro things that people still download to this day.Like I said, I consciously started … My magazine articles would be in a FileMaker magazine about FileMaker but it would be a PHP thing about FileMaker. I started to associate myself very consciously with PHP. Eventually, I started blogging but I kept blogging about it. I kept writing about it. I spoke about it at … I think I talked about it at … yeah, FileMaker conference a couple of times. The next thing you know, a publisher calls me who’s like, “Hey, could you write a book about FileMaker and PHP integration?” because there are really only three people in the whole world that were talking about it. There was like me and two other guys.It was really easy to stand out. Another-Philip: Right. Did you … sorry to interrupt. Did that worry you though that there were only two others and you having this conversation?Jonathan: No, not at all.Philip: Okay.Jonathan: No. It was obvious that everybody needed it. The reason why there are only two other people doing it is because the FileMaker pool is relatively small in the scheme of thing. I’m only one dude, so I only need like one or two big customers a year and I’m covered. I knew for sure … I knew from talking to people that there were, at least, a dozen customers that needed this in the world. If I didn’t try and like hire a bunch of people and create this big firm of FileMaker/PHP developers and have like payroll every month, all I needed was, like I said, a couple of big customers. If you’re the go-to guy for this particular extremely niche thing, you’re going to get the call. You don’t have to advertise you wrote a book on it.The point is that I was extremely conscious that I … In fact, I made the publisher put PHP first in the title because I was trying to make the transition over to PHP.Philip: Yeah.Jonathan: Yeah. Then at one point, I just said, “Okay, I’m going to take all the FileMaker stuff off my website and just do web development.” That was … when you get it deep in business, I continued to get FileMaker leads and stuff, but I would say, “I don’t do that anymore. Send them to other people who do FileMaker.” That was pretty hard because like I said, you do take a financial hit a little bit. Not too bad, but it’s definitely not … it definitely takes a little time to make that shift or … But then it’s like a step change after that because now you’re in this huge pond of people who need websites which is drastically a hundred times bigger than the FileMaker community, at least.Philip: Yeah.Jonathan: At that point, I was like, “Well, I really need to specialize way more, like way, way more.” Right around that time, the iPhone came out. I was like, “Ugh!” as soon as I saw that. I was watching the announcement. As soon as I saw that, I was like, “That’s what I’m doing from now on.”Philip: Wow.Jonathan: I’m just [inaudible 00:15:01] for that.Philip: It was a revelation.Jonathan: Yeah. I mean because if you rem- … It was. I mean, if you remember the phones back then, it was like a joke. I still, every once in a while, I give talks. Probably every couple of months, I give a talk that includes … I cut together highlights of that Steve Jobs presentation and people gasp at stuff that you do a hundred times a day now. People freak out when I’m like the … Anyway, the point is I was really excited about it. He said at the time that the way that you build apps for was going to be with web technology. I was stoked. Then there was … I reversed that position a year later, but it was obvious to me. I was like, “That’s what I’m going to focus on because it was just so exciting.”Philip: Yeah. Yeah, the best part of that was other people’s reactions. Steve Ballmer losing a shit and laughing out loud about the price and I heard that the folks at BlackBerry disassembled it because they couldn’t believe that it was not a mock up or a prototype. I guess it was a prototype when it was first shown, but they couldn’t believe that was real. That it could really work.Jonathan: Right, right, right.Philip: What you’re describing is very different than what you hear from people who are all like, “I want to write a book.” That wasn’t the endpoint for you, it sounds like, at all.Jonathan: No.Philip: It was more of an outcome of just “I’m going to share. I’m really interested in what I’m doing so I’m going to share.”Jonathan: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yup.Philip: Okay.Jonathan: I will say, I should add, that I was working for a FileMaker firm, a very popular FileMaker firm at the time. The owner of that company, a great guy named Chris Moyer had written a FileMaker book. I had a front row seat to the advantages of being the guy that wrote the book because you don’t need to do sales. The phone rings every single day. It’s like planting seeds in the garden and just like customers come to you.I knew a book would bring me customers. I feel silly saying that because I don’t even buy books anymore, just eBooks now and everything. Being the author of a book still has a ton of cache and it’s … I knew that I want it but I wasn’t knocking on publishers’ doors. I didn’t have enough … Yeah, I was just blogging about my passion and publishers came to me.Philip:
onathan, how can people find out more about you?Jonathan: JonathanStark.com is a great place to go, although I’m much more active on Twitter, so usually if you just go to Twitter, my Twitter name is @jonathanstark and I link to everything in the blog and podcast and all of that stuff from Twitter, so that’s probably the best place.Philip: Awesome. Jonathan, it was really educational talking to you. Thank you.Jonathan: My pleasure, really.Philip: Very cool.Jonathan: Thanks for having me.Remember, I’m going to be opening up new My Content Sherpa seats on July 22. If you’re on the waiting list, you’ll get first crack at reserving your seat so you can start building your company’s online authority every month.