Growing up, Morrow, who has spinal muscular atrophy, had to fight to get people to listen to him; now they pay thousands of dollars for the privilege
Self-confessed workaholic Jon Morrow is an entrepreneur and the CEO of BoostBlogTraffic.com — a company that grossed nearly half a million dollars last year and is expected to double that amount this year.
Thirty-year-old Morrow has always been a smart overachiever, graduating from high school at 16, starting three businesses before he was 18 (two game-development companies and a software company), and graduating magna cum laude with a degree in English literature by age 21.
Impressive by anyone’s standards, Morrow’s accomplishments were achieved while dealing with the daily challenges of the motor neuron disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which leaves him unable to move from the neck down. Diagnosed as having the disease when he was six months old, Morrow neither defines himself by his disability nor allows it to limit him.
Social media guru
Growing up, Morrow had to fight to get people to listen to him. Now, people not only listen to him, but they pay hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars to hear what he has to say.
In the social media world, Morrow is a guru. More than 20,000 people subscribe to BoostBlogTraffic.com, and he has 22,500 Twitter followers. Each week, he conducts one or two webinars attended by 500 to 3,500 people.
A natural marketer, Morrow shows people how to stop being ignored. His company teaches bloggers how to get more traffic. “There are millions and millions of bloggers out there, but most of them quickly find out that while it is easy to start a blog, it’s not so easy to get anyone to read it,” says Morrow.
One of the best ways for bloggers to increase the number of people who follow them is by writing a guest blog for a high-profile blogger. Morrow’s company teaches writers how to write for the biggest bloggers in the world and, in exchange, receive a link back to their own blogs. Doing this increases traffic to the bloggers’ websites, helping them sell their products or services.
More than 1,000 people have taken the $600 course Morrow created, which comes with a guarantee that students will be published in a blog of their choice or receive a complete refund. Another course offered by Morrow is designed for those who are launching a blog. The high-end, small-group intensive program costs $10,000 per participant.
A writer himself, Morrow’s blogs frequently go viral. One of his most popular pieces is titled On Dying, Mothers and Fighting for Your Ideas.
In that blog he wrote: “The worst part about being disabled isn’t the pain or the struggle but how the world tries to shove you into a corner and pretend that you don’t exist. After all, what could you possibly have to contribute? You’re going to die soon, poor thing. Here’s a nice, quiet room and some morphine to ease the pain. They don’t proactively hold you back, no, but they don’t expect you to succeed either. I’ve spent my entire life fighting against the weight of those expectations.”
Working seven days a week from his home north of Miami, Fla., Morrow rarely takes time off. Typically, he spends 12 to 14 hours a day reading his students’ work, writing, researching and talking on the phone.
Using voice-recognition software and a mouth-operated joystick enables him to control his computer and move a cursor on the screen. “I can do pretty much anything anybody else can do on the computer,” he says.
When asked how he has the stamina to work so hard, Morrow jokingly replies, “Stubbornness, I guess. No — I love what I do.”
Morrow has been driven to work hard “ever since I was a little kid.” He explains he has always been aware that “my life may not be as long as other people’s. I work really hard and try to move really fast and try to make as much out of my life as I possibly can. My parents always had really high expectations for me growing up — they never allowed me to see myself as disabled. I like working. I don’t have to work 10 to 12 hours a day, but I do it because I enjoy it.
“My health doesn’t always make things super easy to do. It can be a struggle. But I just have the mentality that you do what you want to do no matter how hard it is or how you feel. I just push through it — if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have achieved anything.”
Extremely proud of his company’s success, Morrow’s business has enabled him to support himself and his parents, even during a recession.
“It is really hard to take care of yourself when you have a severe disability, but I have managed to become self-sufficient and not rely on anyone because I have the money to hire the help I need. I have three full-time nurses working for me and I pay their salaries out of my own pocket. To me, that is an honor to be able to do that and to be able to afford that.”
Morrow’s inspirational story has caught the attention of the publishing world, and he is currently in negotiations for a book deal, with plans to have a book completed within the next two years.
Advice for entrepreneurs
The key to being a successful entrepreneur, says Morrow, is to “find the intersection between what you love to do and what other people are desperate to buy. A lot of entrepreneurs fail because they focus on one or the other.”
Morrow is an idea man. “Ideas have been a huge part of my life — it is the strength of my ideas that allows me to do what I do.” Morrow’s goal is to help as many writers and thinkers as possible to communicate and share their great ideas with the world, whether through a blog, book or webinar.
“What I’d like to accomplish is to help hundreds or thousands of people, who are experts, become the authorities in their fields. It will be cool if they can point back to me someday and say they succeeded because ‘Jon helped me get where I am.’”