Lunch with John Chow

by Ed Lau on November 27, 2006

John Chow and I have been friends for years. The man is often strange, quirky and says “Oh well!” entirely too much but once you get to know him, you know that he is the epitome of absolute evil…but in a good way! I met him years ago when I still worked at hardCOREware.net when we had to combine our efforts to do a review. Since then, we’ve caused all kinds of trouble in Vegas and Los Angeles and combined with Carl (of hardCOREware.net) to make for easily the noisiest table at any restaurant we go to.

Most will know him as the owner of TheTechZone.com or from his blog, JohnChow.com. Despite what his page says, I assure you that he is not an Ultimate Fighting Champion although I’m not sure if he does, in fact, control the black market on baby seal pelts. It seems like something he would do along with throw rocks at baby pandas or destroying hotel rooms.

Today, however, he is taking a break from being the root of all evil and having lunch with me at a local eatery that we frequent. If you didn’t know him, you’d think he’s just another dude and not (as he says) “Google’s #1 Dot Com Mogul” (actually, he’s somewhere around #5). During the brief pauses between making fun of my shark hoodie and stuffing his face with chicken wings, we take a minute to discuss blogs and such.

Why the heck did you start a blog? It seems like just about all webmasters have one these days.

I got tired of having the same page on JohnChow.com for years without a single update. Google had removed me from the #1 spot for my name. I always wanted to put my ramblings online and a blog was the best way to do it. Within 2 weeks of starting the blog, I was back at the #1 spot for Google.

Yeah but you had TTZ so I’m guessing it wasn’t hard to get some traffic.

No, I never told anyone at TTZ about it. It was a personal blog and very few people actually knew about it. If you look at some of the early entries you’ll see it talks more about what I was doing everyday instead of the website building and investment stuff I talk about now.

So you actually started with a small reader base? What did you change to get the traffic that you get now?

Traffic was building natually. I find that WordPress does a pretty good job at SEO and there are few plugins you can use to exhance it even more. I worked my way up to over 1,000 page views per day just by constantly updating the blog. That’s one of the keys to building traffic. You have to update. I’ve come across countless blogs where the owner hasn’t update in over a week? Why do they even have a blog? The big traffic day came when Stephen Fung read my story about the self parking Lexus and decided to submitted it to Digg. Until then I never subbed a single post to Digg. The story hit front page, sent a lot of traffic, and we got a good laugh from it. Then I decided to send another story and that made front page, then the 3rd story made front, then the 4th. The blog had no advertising on it at the time. I decided at that time I should add some advertising to recover some of the bandwidth cost. Then it dawned on me that monetizing a blog would make a good case study and I can use this as an example to help others.

I’m actually incredibly surprised that you didn’t have Google Adsense on the blog from day one. It doesn’t seem like something you’d do…

Well, JohnChow.com is a personal blog and I felt a personal blog shouldn’t have advertising on it. I still actually feel that way. That’s why I’m giving away the income the blog made last month to charity.

Help others?! That doesn’t seem like something a man so evil would ever say!

There seem to be a number of people that aren’t big fans of the blog and don’t like you in general. I mean, most of us have attributed that to your recent banning from Digg to that.

I can’t help how other feels. My blog is out there for everyone to read. Some will take the information and use it to their benefit. Other will take it as me putting down people. There will always be groups who are pissed that you made it and they didn’t. They’re the ones, who because they can’t do something, will tell other they can’t do it as well. I don’t have time for those people.

Good point. What are you going to do about Digg?

Nothing. If Digg unban my URL, great. If they don’t, I’m not going to cry over it.

Digg says you were banned because of spam. Most of us think that’s BS, really. I mean, other than someone submitting your post about Agloco…I don’t see how anyone can say your site is spam.

That was just the standard Digg form letter that they send to anyone who got banned. Digg likes to say they are democratic but the truth is, they’re control by a small group of users. How democratic is it when a story gets over 1,000 diggs yet it will be pulled from the front page if just 10 Diggers bury it? So you get a group who don’t like someone and they go around burying all the stories of that site. Once a sites gets 10 or so stories buried, that site is banned from Digg. And it doesn’t matter if that site had thousands of Digg in their favour.

It would seem that way. Don’t hate the player, hate the game? (laughs)

They can hate me all they want. I don’t have to work.

So what tips do you have for aspiring bloggers wanting to get their site read? It’s been…what…three weeks since I started this site? I consider it a relative success in such a short time and you’ve given me plenty of helpful tips.

My advice is simple. Keep adding content. If you’re going to blog then make a commitment to do a certain number of posts each day/week and stick to it. I’ve seen too many people all gung ho about making money on their blog. They do a few posts, see they make nothing and then stop updating.

Big mistake.

Also, you really should be blogging because you like to do it, not because it can make you money.

Oh, we should probably tell people a bit about your other sites too.

TheTechZone is the site that started it all. It’s the flagship. I have other smaller sites but they were done mostly to as test sites to what will work and what won’t work on the net.

How the heck do you explain to people what it is that you…do? I have a hard enough time explaining what I do…

I tell them I’m a Google Whore. When they ask what is that? I say, “I whore Google.”

I usually just call you a regular whore.

There’s nothing regular about me.

Too much information. One of the things I recently wrote about is YouTube. Now we all know what Mark Cuban said…what do you think the future of YouTube is. …and dude, have you checked out lonelygirl15?

I made a post about Mark Cuban and YouTube here. I don’t watch her videos. The few I did see were pretty funny. I think Youtube is a reflection of the direction we’re heading – short attention span. YouTube videos are short. People don’t seem to want to sit around and enjoy things slowly anymore. They want that instant hit for some reason.

Alright, to end, how would you describe yourself?

My description can be found in my About John Chow page. But in case you don’t want to go there to read it, this is what it says.

John Chow, a damn fine person, friend of the community, Ultimate Fighting Championship contestant, member of the Save the Whales Foundation, the man who controls the black market on baby seal pelts and member of the “probably yo’ daddy” foundation.

The internet?

Crazy.

How would you describe me…keeping in mind that I can, in fact, beat you up?

You are Ed.
The man who fell on his head.
The doctor thought you were dead.
But your mom said:
He’s not dead.
He’s Ed.

What the heck? Are you, in fact, the cause of global warming, a provoker of serial killers, a puncher of babies, a destroyer of companies, a thrower of rocks at baby pandas and generally the root of all that is evil?

I didn’t cause global warming. I only provoke one serial killer. I never punched any babies. I only destroyed two companies that I know of. I never threw rocks at pandas, it was a rock fight! I am evil, but not the root of evil.

I know of at least one baby panda that you’ve thrown rocks at. Carl can confirm it.

The rock fight was in China. Carl wasn’t there.

I don’t even want to know why you were having a rock fight but I’m going to bet that you killed at least one baby panda.

in Tech and the Net

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed November 27, 2006 at 2:12 am

Hey Ed, nice post! I wish I could have an opportunity to have lunch with John like you did, I dont know him much, or maybe at all, but what I have gathered in our conversations, he is simply a cool guy!

Nice Blog!

Ed

Reply

Carl November 27, 2006 at 4:04 am

John was having a rock fight, but later found out that it was a group of baby pandas he was throwing rocks at! EVIL~!!!

Reply

Gdog November 27, 2006 at 5:28 am

Nice interview…where did you guys eat lunch? Is that an iced lemon tea in your hands? I want one.

Reply

Nomar November 27, 2006 at 12:41 pm

Great Interview !! Nice to read

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John Chow November 27, 2006 at 4:04 pm

One of these days, I will tell the real story about the rock fight.

Reply

Michael Kwan November 27, 2006 at 4:40 pm

Gdog, that looks like Kam Do to me. I’m surprised those goofs are still driving in this weather. Don’t you know that Vancouver (and by association, Richmond) shuts down at the slightest sight of the white stuff?

Reply

siong1987 November 27, 2006 at 5:17 pm

John’s effort in blogging is really inspiring to all the bloggers.

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Sonia November 27, 2006 at 5:31 pm

Reminds me my past travels in Tibet. When we went hunting for baby seals, they swallowed all the bullets and spitted them back at us at such a rate, so we played run and hide game. And pandas did not even have teeth. But we all came in one piece and mommy said that was good.

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Sunny December 1, 2006 at 8:36 pm

lolz…interesting and funny interview; did he really have a rock fight? Lolz, I enjoyed reading it, keep up the good work.

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John Chow December 2, 2006 at 4:09 pm

The rock fight was a long time ago. And I can assure you I never killed any pandas! But I’m sure some humans got hurt.

Reply

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