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Chris Guillebeau: Transforming an Online Community into a Marketing Tactic


Chris Guillebeau: Transforming an Online  Community into a Marketing Tactic

Who is Chris Guillebeau?

After over 20 years of experience, Chris Guillebeau is well versed in the art of making money online. In 2008, Guillebeau produced his first blog, The Art of Nonconformity, which helped to boost him directly into the emerging digital marketing space. He explains his journey in more detail. 

Chris Guillebeau: Transforming an Online  Community into a Marketing Tactic

‘I started a blog in 2008. That was kind of a kickstart for me in terms of a new career. This blog was called The Art of Nonconformity, where I went to every country in the world and I just had this quest to start writing books.’ 

Guillebeau released his first book in 2010, named The Art of Nonconformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World, which quickly became a cult classic within contemporary digital marketing circles.

With this rapid success, Guillebeau quickly realized that his travel work could become his full-time career. 

‘This is so much more than I thought it was going to be. I thought I was just going to write about my travel stories and like all this stuff. But it’s actually making an emotional impact on people. So, that was really exciting. It made me think differently about the whole project.’ 

Guillebeau then traveled to Africa, using his travel knowledge to support developing communities within the region. He continues to explain how this transition impacted his overall lifestyle.

‘I was in West Africa for four years as an aid worker, I was doing a whole bunch of different stuff. So, for me, it was all kind of integrated and aligned. I just started shifting over to like, okay, this is going to be my focus now.’ 

In 2012, Guillebeau released his second financial advice book, The $100 Startup, an intuitive guide that helps individuals become their own boss and achieve optimal happiness outside of traditional working practices. 

Using social media for non-commercial means

Despite being a prevalent author within the personal finance industry, Chris Guillebeau still focuses primarily on making his content more accessible to his follower base. The author goes into more detail about how he remains financially stable as an unconventional influencer.

‘I started to make 80% of my work for free or very accessible, like the books, you can get them at the library and that’s great. But, you know, then the 20% is how I make my money.’ 

Since building the Art of Nonconformity concept back in the early 2000s, Guillebeau has been determined to see great success in his own endeavors. He also describes his animosity towards larger corporations and his wish to work on his own terms.

‘I was really nervous because my whole blog, everything, it’s the Art of Nonconformity, it’s non-commercial. I do an event every year called The World Domination Summit and we have no sponsors. It’s not anti-corporate, I’m just trying to be very independent.’ 

Building the Side Hustle School podcast 

Since 2017, Chris Guillebeau has been contributing to a daily podcast named Side Hustle School. This platform aims to help people to build an additional revenue stream without having to leave their regular jobs. Over the past five years, this podcast has built an incredibly devoted following and has seen an impressive amount of engagement.

‘So, the podcast is called Side Hustle School and over the course of five years, we’ve worked with just about every major podcast advertiser. I’m fortunate that I have an agency that I work with so I don’t have to do any of the selling.’ 

Guillebeau also has a lot of advice for budding podcasters, helping them to better communicate and collaborate with prominent brands. 

‘I think a lot of newer podcasters or people that are just starting up, they’re actually interested in forming direct collaborations with the right kind of small businesses. So I think just reaching out and saying ‘Hey, are you interested in doing something?’ You might be able to get a good deal that way.’

Creating a community without traditional marketing strategies

Guillebeau is known to stray away from conventional marketing tactics, as a way to better benefit his audience. However, it seems that he is still able to make great strides in his respective industry and has built an audience that he can rely on.

‘With my first book, I wrote about the concept of recruiting a small army of remarkable people. It’s kind of like the 1000 true fans model. If you’re cultivating this loyalty and relationship with people, then, when the time comes to launch your book or whatever it is you’re trying to do, then you ask for help.’ 

Chris Guillebeau: Transforming an Online  Community into a Marketing Tactic

As his content continues to evoke many thought-provoking reactions, Guillebeau believes that his growing community is paramount to his ongoing success.

‘It’s not just important, it is vital. It’s like a core part of it all. So, it does give me something and I do feel very connected to it. It feels very personal to me. I would rather do this than scale the business.’ 

Guillebeau also goes on to discuss his fondness for creator-focused events, highlighting their importance in the growing influencer marketing sphere. 

‘This event I am very much interested in is so-called Web 3. I don’t really love the phrase Web 3, but just the idea of connecting creators with that and the decentralized platform or relationships. So I think there’s a lot that’s happening over the next couple of years. It’s scary for a lot of people, they are a little bit afraid of it. People are skeptical of it but there’s also a lot of opportunities there.’ 

As he continues to blend the world of publishing and influencer marketing, Chris Guillebeau ends with his hopes that more people understand that numbers do not define the overall quality of a creator.

‘It’s the misconception that follower numbers of subscriber numbers or whatever the metric, is directly correlated to your success. Either to your influence or your money or to some other standard of success.’ 

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Melody Day is a UK-based copywriter, working in developing industries such as travel, beauty, and lifestyle. She creates digestible copy that is fully optimized for SEO and gains positive engagement from readers. They are able to create engaging blogs and website copy for a range of unique brands.

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