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Interview with Chris Pirillo

Chris Pirillo (1)Chris Pirillo is one of those names that you hear as you interact with ProBloggers around the web but for some reason he’s someone that I’d never personally bumped into online until a few weeks ago when on a whim I posted this little post asking if anyone wanted to sponsor me to go to Gnomedex which is a conference that Chris runs. Imagine the surprise the next morning when I checked my inbox to find an email from Chris himself offering to help me out by finding someone who might be able to get me there! I was pretty stunned and of course excited and shot an email straight back.

Unfortunately Gnomedex clashes with a prearranged trip I’m going on to a different part of the world at the same time (and I’m thinking they’re not going to change the dates just for me) so I won’t be able to meet him in person (this year) but I thought I’d take the opportunity of him stopping by ProBlogger to see if he’d grace us with some of his time in a ProBlogger interview because this guy is very well connected and has been blogging professionally for a while now – he’s got a lot of wisdom in him – so lets get some of it out!

I hope you enjoy our interview with Chris Pirillo!

ProBlogger – Chris – thanks for your time. Who is Chris Pirillo? Pretend we’re at a party, we’ve got beer in hand, peanuts (you get the picture) and we’re meeting for the first time – I ask the aged old ‘So what do you do’ question – How do you answer?

Chris – WHAT? OH, I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU HAD YOUR HAND IN MY NUTS. I DON’T NORMALLY BRING MY NUTS TO PARTIES, BUT ONLY BECAUSE SALT MAKES ME THIRSTY AND I DON’T DRINK SUGARY SODA.

THERE’S NO EASY WAY TO DEBIBE… DESCRIBE MYSELF. SORRY, I GOTTA STOP DRINKING SO MUCH AT THESE PARTY INTERVIEWS. ANYWAY, I’M A CONDUIT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE THESE DAYS, SHARING INFORMATION WITH OTHER PEOPLE. THROUGH LOCKERGNOME, WE SHARE INFO IN TEXT-FORMAT. THROUGH THE CHRIS PIRILLO SHOW, WE SHARE INFO IN AUDIO-FORMAT. THROUGH GNOMEDEX, WE SHARE INFO IN PEOPLE-FORMAT. THEN, THERE’S MY PERSONAL BLOG, WHICH IS KIND OF A HODGE-PODGE OF EVERYTHING.

ProBlogger – Can you tell us a little about how you first got into developing websites? What was your first one – and how did you to the place you find yourself today with Lockergnome? Do you have other online projects that you’re working on?

Chris – ARE WE STILL AT THE PARTY? LET’S GO INTO THE SIDE ROOM WHERE IT’S JUST A LITTLE LESS NOISY, OKAY? I’M GOING HOARSE.

I started with HTML back when the BLINK tag was en vogue. It was long before commercialism had crept into the Internet, so my first page was a personal one. I had fun scanning photos of myself in the computer lab on campus (the University of Northern Iowa), and stealing animated GIFs from elsewhere on the Web. I understand HTML, but I’d just as soon not develop it anymore. There are far better designers with far better skills than I, and that’s obvious.

Now, if by saying “developing websites,” you meant actually the general creation of entities online, then I answered the question incorrectly. In which case, hand me another beer – even though I don’t drink.

Lockergnome started in 1996, with the idea that an email newsletter would be a great way of getting my thoughts from here to there in a relatively simple fashion. A verified email address was much more valuable to me than a random hit in the Web server log. Right now, Lockergnome rolls forward with many voices adding to its success. I’m currently busy fine tuning Gnomedex 5.0, wherein I hope to meet you face to face… I mean, face to face for real, not in some virtual beer-holding side party room.

ProBlogger – What are you trying to achieve with Lockergnome? Every time I go there I discover some new section or feature – what is the vision behind it? Did you start it with making money in mind or were there other reasons? Where did you get the name Lockergnome from?

Chris – It’s my “day job,” so to speak. I’m constantly looking for new ways to evolve what we have to offer our readers, and searching for new contributors to keep our content as fresh as humanly possible. The vision? Nowhere near 20/20.

I didn’t start it to make money, per se. I started it because I didn’t want to work for anybody else or have to wear a tie every day. Mission accomplished.

Everyone expects there to be some grand story about how I got the nickname “Lockergnome,” but it isn’t terribly exciting. I’m short; in 1991, my high school senior writing teacher started calling me shorty names (midget, munchkin, dwarf, etc.). Of course, I fell in love with “gnome” almost immediately. A few days later, I was standing by my locker and just decided to put the two words together. No, I was never actually shoved into a locker, in case you were curious.

ProBlogger – When and how did you first discovered blogging? What do you see as its potential? Why do you blog?

Chris – I started blogging before blogging was blogging, sending a personalized newsletter out to folks starting in 1996. But in 2000, I started tinkering with Blogger.com and Greymatter. Not long after MovableType sprang onto the scene, I started supporting it directly. I’m not sure if Ben and Mena Trott remember those days?

It’s potential is unseen. I blog largely because I can, not because I have to.

ProBlogger – Obviously Lockergnome is a commercial site – what are the main ways that you are monetising it? Can you give us some indication of how successful its been? (feel free to be as vague or specific as you like).

Chris – AdSense, individual sponsors, and BlogAds – and yes, I’ve been successful, and I’ll leave it at that. :)

ProBlogger – How do you manage the sheer size of Lockergnome?

Chris – Couldn’t do it without our contributing staff of writers, my fiancee / CEO (Ponzi), or Bob Fogarty (our editor). They make it relatively easy to manage, as I take a very laissez faire approach to things – which doesn’t always work.

ProBlogger – Do you see a need for us as professional bloggers to pull together in a more formal way as some have suggested with the Professional Bloggers Association?

Chris – Certainly, it’s good to make alliances, but I’m not certain it’s a “need.” There are always exceptions to every rule, but soon enough, everyone might be eligible for such an organization – in which case, why have it?

ProBlogger – You’re the guy behind Gnomedex – What’s it all about and why should readers of ProBlogger go?

Chris – We’re headed into our fifth year, and there’s no other conference out there that gives you as much bang for your buck. I ask: Why call it a “technology” conference if you’re not providing reliable Wi-Fi? Why provide Wi-Fi when you don’t include a place for power in the main hall? Why try to set attendence records when the true value of a conference is in meeting other people? Why have more than one track when it only leads to frustrations in choosing which session to see? Why pay more attention to a select group of attendees when everybody should be treated like a VIP? Why find speakers who only do what they do because it’s their job? Why involve participants who haven’t done anything interesting or exciting? Why spend a thousand dollars on getting lost in the hallways? Why force your attendees to pay more for food and beverages throughout the day?

Gnomedex is truly different.

ProBlogger – What are the biggest mistakes and the biggest things you’ve gotten right with your blogging?

Chris – I take risks with everything I do, and they’re not always met with open eyes; I often face criticism for making radical decisions. My biggest mistake? Not starting sooner. My biggest accomplishment? Not quitting.

ProBlogger – What advice would you give a blogger just starting out who wants to make an income from blogging?

Chris – It took me ten years to get to where I’m at online. For some, it happens a lot sooner. :) Just keep that in mind as you roll forward, but for heaven’s sake – start rolling already.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jason says:

    Wow. What a cool interview. Chris’ picture made me belt out a laugh, so I thought I’d take a look. He seems to be a very inspired guy, or just having a good day or something. Enjoyable interview. Thanks.

    Cheers,

    JP

  2. chat says:

    thanks