The extraordinary story of Jon Morrow

By Leon Tranter | Uncategorized

Nov 03
sunrise

This is going to be a bit different from my usual articles. I’m not going to pick up much (if any) organic search traffic from my title, I’m not going to go scouring for Latent Semantic Indexing keywords, and there are no punchy calls to action or anything to finish this off.

I’m not going to carefully structure my headings and sub-headings, and I’m not going to use any sneaky copywriting tricks to get you reading from one paragraph to the next.

It’s going to be shorter than most of my articles, with no big juicy teachings or anything.

I’m just going to tell a story. A story about a man called Jon Morrow. You might have heard of him, or you might not.

He’s generally considered to be the most successful blogger (as in, not successful people who then started a blog, but people who became successful purely through blogging) in the world.

He has started, built and kept or sold multiple blogs that are worth multiple millions of dollars. He’s got bored of and sold blogs for millions of dollars – more than most people make in their lifetimes, including some pretty successful people.

He’s written some of the most read and shared articles in the history of the world wide web. He’s generated hundreds of millions of pageviews.

But the really, really freaky thing is?

He can’t move a single muscle in his body below his neck.

Who is Jon Morrow?

Jon Morrow is a man from the United States, who suffers from a horrific disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). This is a genetic defect that results in muscle tissue in the body wasting away until there they cease to function.

Some people get SMA later in life. They will be permanently crippled, but they can live with a normal life expectancy. Jon Morrow wasn’t like that. His SMA came on when he was a baby, and the doctors gave him two years to live until his body collapsed from weakness and pneumonia.

He and his family fought tooth and nail and he’s still alive today, against all odds.

Jon has been in a weelchair for a long time and cannot move any part of his body other than his face. He was stuck in a dilemma where he needed $100,000 each year in medical aid from the US government just to stay alive. But if he earned more than a tiny amount of money, he would no longer be eligible for the medical aid.

So he worked – for free. He started writing for an up and coming blog called Copyblogger (it’s still around, and a big thing in blogging circles) But instead of being paid, he just built up networks and influences and connections and respect.

Then when he started freelancing and needed clients, he had them in droves. He started his own blog called KISSMetrics, which became very successful. Things were going well for Jon.

Then disaster struck

In 2006, in case his already difficult life wasn’t difficult enough, Jon Morrow was involved in a horrific car accident that put him in hospital for months, and left him more crippled than before (if that was possible).

Faced with ever-mounting medical bills, Jon made the tough decision to leave his life and family behind, move to Mexico (where the cost of medical care is a tiny fraction of that in the United States), and go all in on blogging.

Remember, this is man who can only move his face, and was then nearly killed in a car crash. And he went on to become probably the most successful blogger of all time.

He didn’t give up, ever

He built up KISSMetrics to be an enormously successful blog, which he sold for millions of dollars. And that was because he had eyes on bigger prizes. He started another blog, Boost Blog Traffic, specialising in blogging. This later changed name to Smartblogger, which is one of the most popular and respected blogs on blogging in the world.

He’s had articles published in major international publications. He’s started more blogs, like Unstoppable.me. He has email lists in the hundreds of thousands.

I don’t know how much he’s worth but he sold KISSMetrics for millions of dollars and I’m pretty sure that Copyblogger is worth multiples of that (it’s believed to have generated $50m in revenue). It’s estimated his articles have been viewed 200 million times – that’s one in eight of the English-speaking people on the planet. Here’s one of his articles that has been shared (not read, shared) seventy-five THOUSAND times.

And again, this is a man who can’t move his hands or any part of his body. He writes by controlling a keyboard simulator with his mouth.

It might sound like some ridiculous Hollywood story, but I’m not making any of this up.

In case you don’t believe me, this is a photo of Jon Morrow.

Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow in a weelchair

This is a podcast interview with Jon Morrow by blogger and entrepreneur James Altucher.

I find Jon to be an enormously inspiring person. Every day that I’m tired or grumpy or feel I can’t be bothered, I remind myself “this guy can’t lift his arms, and he can do this, and has done this, better than pretty much anyone on the planet”.

I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. I’m saying this to make you feel good. I’m saying this to make you feel encouraged and empowered and inspired.

Because much as I hate empty platitudes and shallow cliches, this man really is proof that extraordinary things can come if you apply enormous effort.

That’s the lesson I get from this man. What’s yours?

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