Black Blogger Month: Mario Armstrong, Multi-Media Master

Gadget guru takes technology to minorities with entertaining content that also fulfills small business needs

Mario Armstrong is always connected

The Mario Armstrong brand is proof that blogging transcends the keyboard. You might not realize that upon a cursory glance at MarioArmstrong.com. But if you take a closer look you’ll see that written posts are only a fraction of the brand, which includes television appearances on CNN; a daily radio show; SmallBizGoMobile.com, a blog sponsored by AT&T to review tablets, smart phones, and mobile services; network broadcast appearances from conferences like the Consumer Electronics Show; and TechTechBoom.com, a blog to encourage youth participation in science and technology.

A tech aficionado and former Chief Technology Officer for the mayor’s office in Baltimore, Md, Armstrong is a whirlwind of energy. You can catch him every day on Sirius.XM 128 The Power, broadcasting about anything from gadgets to politics and entertainment, through the lens of technology, while also introducing listeners to little known tech minorities and entrepreneurs. In fact, he was nominated as best program host for the regional Emmy Awards in the Capitol Region. As Black Blogger Month continues, Armstrong shares his tech expertise and the importance of building brand credibility with BlackEnterprise.com.

I started blogging to…

Further build my brand. I loved the idea of being transparent and sharing information that could help others. I was doing a lot in radio and television and wanted to expand the content I was delivering on-air to online audiences. My most recent blog launch was for SmallBizGoMobile.com. I wanted to do a video-blog that would speak specifically to entrepreneurs and small businesses that needed a trusting source where they could learn about the best mobile applications, devices and other technologies that could help them be incredibly productive. With the explosion of smartphones and mobile applications there were no blogs speaking specifically to this niche audience and we wanted to share our expertise, create a ton of original content and shoot video reviews so readers could see the technology in action.

Starting my blog cost me…

Time and human capital! For SmallBizGoMobile.com we hired a graphic designer, which costs a couple hundred dollars and we paid for our domain name for five years. A blog is very easy to start and has very low upfront costs, however, if you really want to be serious and make it grow it takes a ton of your time for everything—from setup to writing blog posts to doing blog maintenance and updates.

My site stands out because…

We’re delivering content that isn’t being developed and we’re taking on the huge expense of shooting original video for the site. The team of writers that are on the site are excellent at what they do and are delivering and sharing quality content that we really care about. We aren’t running around trying to make over-the-top-headlines, we’re seriously thinking about the reader and asking them what content really helps them.

People trust the Mario Armstrong brand because…

I’ve been hustling my tail off for the past 10+ years sharing, motivating and educating our communities on how they can use technology to better their lives and businesses. They also trust my brand because we’ve worked so hard to break through traditional media and after years of hard work we are on many credible outlets like CNN, NPR, SiriusXM satellite radio, NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s Early Show and daytime TV shows like Rachael Ray, Nate Berkus and others. This is not a game for us, it’s a mission and the mission is bigger than any one person. I think over the years people have seen my genuine concern to help and be a part of a larger movement of educating our people to leverage technology to generate their own wealth.

I realized blogging was a business…

From the start. I wanted to create a content channel online that spoke specifically about mobile technologies for entrepreneurs and small business. I knew if we could build quality content and listened to our readers we could create a destination that companies would have an interest in advertising, currently we have AT&T as a sponsor and we’re starting to knock down the doors of other sponsors.

Uncle Sam got involved in my blog after…

They heard I was accepting “cash-only” for ads [laughs]. On a serious note, we knew we were trying to build a mega-blog with tons of original content, quality video production, and hiring other writers. So we were expecting to hear from the IRS anyway. When you know you’re building something with the intent of having a lasting impact you better plan up-front for Uncle Sam.

The biggest mistake I ever made in business was…

Undervaluing my fees and not hiring a CEO sooner.

What I learned from that was…

You must place a monetary value on your time and the effort it takes to do your work. If you don’t respect your value, guess what, clients won’t either and you’ll be taken advantage of in the process.

My biggest influences are…

People who are passionate about their mission, hustle their butts off, and realize that the mission has to be bigger than them!

Be sure to check out the rest of the digital thought leaders as they’re revealed each day by logging on to BlackEnterprise.com/BlackBloggerMonth.

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