Tyler Tervooren takes big risks. As the man behind Advanced Riskology, he’s on a quest to do a bunch of scary things that 99% of the world’s population never will. That includes climbing the highest mountain on every continent, running a marathon in Antarctica, and living homeless for a month.
Tyler lost his high-income construction job about this time last year, but got right to work on his own legacy project. He officially launched the AR blog back in June of last year, and quickly built up a loyal following by writing kick-ass content, telling a compelling story, and focusing on high-impact tasks. Here’s me picking his brain for lessons on building a thriving online business.
1. Tyler, thanks for taking the time for this. First off, can you give us a little insight into the business-side of Advanced Riskology? How do you make a living doing what you do?
Sure. Right now, Advanced Riskology makes money through sales of my own digital guide and other various affiliate offers for products that I’ve used and think highly of. As I develop more of my own products for my audience, though, I’ll start phasing out affiliate income. It’s a good opportunity to get started and learn how to make offers that resonate with people, but in the long run, I prefer to focus more on creating products specifically tailored to my own audience. That’s just a more fun way to do business, in my opinion.
Also, building the business around my own products allows me to do less promotion, which I’m a big fan of because, first and foremost, I want Advanced Riskology to be platform for a small social movement. The business only exists on the back end to make sure the platform thrives. Products designed for my own readers are a more natural fit and it just keeps me more interested in the business side of things.
2. You’ve run a few reader surveys and are regularly requesting feedback from your audience. Why is this important, and how has such feedback influenced your business decisions?
Well, I learned very early in life that I’m just absolutely no good at knowing what people think. I’ve honed my skills over the last year or two, but it’s just not something that comes naturally to me like it does to some people. So, since I’m bad at guessing, I just try to do it as little as possible and, instead, ask my readers to tell me what’s really important to them so that I don’t just go off and create stuff and get it all wrong.
It’s important that I’m working on something that’s interesting to me (or else I’ll lose all motivation to do it), so I always start with ideas that are personally meaningful, but I like to ask for help in figuring out which of those ideas is most interesting to others because I’m not just creating stuff for myself. I want other people to love what I’m working on, too. Since I’m selling things, that’s also a critical business component. People much prefer to buy something that they feel they had a say in creating.
Also, I don’t listen to feedback equally. I always ask how long someone’s been reading and then give more weight to those who’ve been around awhile. This helps me strengthen my relationships with my best readers.
3. As regards starting and running your own business, which challenges have you found to be mostly psychological?
Pretty much all of my challenges have been psychological and mostly based around confidence and self-esteem issues like “Do people really care about what I have to say?” or “What if no one buys my product? What if they hate it?”
Those are both pointless fears, but I still struggled with them, all the same. This is all part of the trick that your amygdala (the lizard brain) plays on you in an attempt to stop you from changing your current state. Even if you’re unhappy with where you are, you’re usually comfortable, and the only job of that tiny little part of your brain is to keep you comfortable.
The way I deal with that is by committing to little tests in my every day life, kind of like what you’re doing with your random acts of courage. By taking a big scary idea and breaking it down into a little step that I can test without waking up my lizard brain, I kind of maneuver around that whole “scared stiff” state. Once I can see that it worked and I’m still alive, that builds a lot of confidence to take much bigger steps.
4. You obviously believe in being transparent and the power of public accountability, but many people are hesitant to put themselves out there like that. Have you experienced any drawbacks from putting so much of your life online?
Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m nearly as open as other amazing folks I see who spill their whole lives online, but I do try to be as honest as possible about what I’m up to because people read Advanced Riskology to learn about all the benefits of risk taking and it would be disingenuous to show all the upsides without showing some of the very real downsides that are possible.
That said, I haven’t seen any negative side effects of sharing the real me with the world wide web. Being genuine online is one of the most important things you can do, in my opinion. Otherwise, you’re just creating a false identity that takes a tremendous amount of energy to maintain, and the truth always finds a way to reveal itself no matter how hard you try to hide it.
I think if I went and applied for a job today, I’d be immediately disqualified after any type of Google search, but I don’t really see that as a drawback. That’s an escape hatch I never want to use anyway, so if it’s unavailable, I won’t have an easy out. I’ll just have to try harder to do what I really want to do.
There’s an old parable that sums it up nicely: “Just be you because those who care don’t matter and those that matter don’t care.”
5. I feel your writing voice has gotten stronger and more distinctive over the last six months or so. How have you gone about developing that and crafting your message?
I wish I could say there was some awesome, super secret technique I’ve used to figure out how to develop my voice and my message, but really it’s just a lot of time and hard work. Boring answer, I know. Basically, every time I write something, I get a little more comfortable with myself and that just helps me spit out my message easier without disruptive thoughts telling me to “be more careful” or to try to mimic someone else’s style.
Everyone starts off by learning to write like their heroes; it’s kind of the only way to start. If you stick it out long enough, though, you build confidence and start to get tired of that and developing your own voice just becomes a priority. If my writing style and message has developed, it has, honestly, been the product of hours of writing, crying, rewriting, throwing a fit, tossing everything out, and then writing again until I was so tired that I just had to hit publish or it wasn’t going to get done.
I’m okay with that, though. That’s what makes me who I am and it was the only way for me to find that person. After awhile, I’ve built some confidence, but—to tell the truth—I’m never fully satisfied with anything I create. For as long as I write, I’ll always be crying, rewriting, throwing a fit, and then hitting publish when my eyes won’t stay open any longer. Hopefully that keeps things evolving.
A huge thanks to Tyler for taking to time to write such thoughtful responses. I’m right on board with his message that we should all be taking more risks. As Tyler himself says at Advanced Riskology, “if we stagnate, struggle, and eventually fail by playing it too safe, then we also learn, grow, and ultimately succeed by embracing risk in our lives.”
Indeed. When most people think of risk, they think of things like starting your own business, traveling to foreign lands, or speaking in public. But what’s truly risky is living a life where you never push yourself to become all you can be. That’s how you miss out on all the fun stuff.
Special offer for risk-takers
Now here’s a story: I hadn’t checked out Tyler’s premium product (The Guerrilla Influence Formula) when I sent him the above interview questions. Tyler sent back his responses with a complimentary copy of GIF attached and the following message:
Please don’t promote it just because I sent it to you—I just want you to have a copy; perhaps you can get some use out of it. 🙂
Cool guy, right?
So I went ahead and read through The Guerrilla Influence formula, devoting about three hours to it in total and taking notes as I went. I was practically giddy by the time I was finished. Seriously, that thing is packed with excellent tips for building a thriving online audience, and I’ll be implementing many of them myself.
In fact, I liked GIF so much that I went ahead and paid for the copy Tyler sent me. Yeah, I already had the info for free but I don’t mind paying for great work, so that’s what I did.
I’ve also signed up as an affiliate for Guerrilla Influence Formula, meaning I get 51% commission on any sales I refer. If you’re looking for something to help you build your online audience, I highly recommend you check out the GIF info page and see if it might be right for you.
The price ranges from $77 to $97, and it’s worth much more than that if you’re willing to put the knowledge to good use.
Of course, this product won’t be right for everyone reading this, but I’m sure many of you will get significant value out of it. Contact me if you have any questions about what’s in it and how it might help you. If I think you don’t need it, I’ll let you know. You can also rest easy knowing that Tyler offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back (scroll down the info page to read more about that).
One more thing: While doing research for the above interview I came across a post by Tyler called How Does Advanced Riskology Make Money? One thing in there about affiliate marketing really stuck with me:
Most people don’t do this and it’s not a hard and fast rule, but I always feel better about promoting something to you guys when I can offer something additional myself. Why should I get paid for providing nothing but a link?
Excellent point, and in the spirit of that I’m offering a free 30-minute one-on-one Skype coaching call with anyone who purchases The Guerrilla Influence Formula through one of my links. Just forward along your email receipt to himself [at] ndoherty [dot] com and we’ll schedule a session during the next two weeks. I’ll be happy to discuss anything and everything related to Disrupting the Rabblement, and I’ll also share with you my notes from GIF and what strategies and tactics I plan to use from it.
My side of the offer is only open though until midnight (GMT) this Friday, March 4th. Buy The Guerrilla Influence Formula and forward me your receipt by then and we’ll get Skyping.
Ok, enough of that. Moving on…
Get more Tyler
Follow the links below to find out more about Tyler and learn a thing or two about taking big risks:
- Advanced Riskology
- Free Ebook: Instant Adventure (just released yesterday, I haven’t read it yet)
- Free Ebook: Take This Job and Shove It (this one I have read and can recommend)
- Follow Tyler on Twitter
Below you’ll find some past interviews I’ve done with other legendary world-changers. There’s lots of good info there. As I mentioned on Monday though, the above interview with Tyler is the last I’ll be doing for a while. I’ll be shifting my focus to guest blogging later this month.
- Building castles and laying foundations: An interview with radical minimalist Nina Yau
- How to travel the world as a full-time language hacker: An interview with Irish polyglot Benny Lewis
- How to travel the world indefinitely: An interview with pro nomad Mark Webster
- How to make serious money doing what you love (and without quitting your day job): An interview with Emmett Cooke
- How to rock it as an online entrepreneur: Video interview with Corbett Barr and Everett Bogue
- “Nobody said saving the world would be easy” – An interview with Raam Dev