Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.
This week the interview is with Al Carlton of Coolest-Gadgets.com
Up until 2004, Al Carlton was a full time coder/programmer, designing and writing financial systems. During that year (2004) Al decided he wanted to leave the rat race and experimented with various web ventures. Towards the end of 2005 he created the blog Coolest-Gadgets.com which after a year of hard work was generating enough income to replace his salary and enable him to leave the 9-5 rat race. Today Al spends most of his time traveling and building his growing portfolio of websites and blogs.
Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?
Al: With blogging success means different things to different people, for me a successful blog means traffic and revenue, the two of which are closely related, the more traffic you get the more revenue you can earn.
Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?
Al: I’ve had an element of success but still have far to go (I hope). The pinnacle so far would be when my blog income overtook my 9-5 income (Jan 2007) and I was able to leave the rat race
Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?
Al: I’ve known some bloggers really make a name for themselves and a decent blog in 6 months others can take a lot longer. From a revenue perspective I’d allow 12-24 months before expecting a decent return,
Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?
Al: I think a lot of the successful bloggers have other sites and business as well as their blog. Darren Rowse or ProBlogger.net is probably one of the most successful purely from a blogging perspective.
Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?
Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?
Al: It would probably be the the about a GPS tracker it’s been viewed something like 100,000 times and has generated well in excess of $2K, not bad for 15 minutes work!
Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?
Al: Research and be interested in what you’re writing about.
Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?
Al: Be unique and let your personality show.
Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?
Al: Very. The headline is the first and often only thing people see, so it needs to grab their attention and make them want to read more.
Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?
Al: Normally no but for this Christmas season I have been promoting some of my product based posts by paying other bloggers to write about my post (with a link of course) and so far the results have been very good, more from the traffic off the search engines rather than traffic from the other blogs.
Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?
Al: Mainly I rely on quality unique content to bring the visitors
Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?
Al: The Digg.com front page that brought about 20K visitors in a day. That was nice and free.
Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?
- Be unique
- Network with fellow bloggers
- Write about something you have a passion for
- Interact with your readers
Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?
Al: They expect instant results and when quit too early
Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?
Al: Start sooner, if you have an idea for a post do it ASAP.
Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?
Al: Popup ads, plagiarized content, really crappy English (must be really bad as mine isn’t great)
Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?
Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?
Al: On my gadget blog it does best from ads, closely followed by affiliate sales. The most lucrative ad program for that site is AdSense which is closing in on $20K per month.
Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?
Al: The business blog SelfMadeMinds.com has brought us a fair amount of opportunities with other companies whilst the blog itself makes very little.
Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?
Al: Probably going to Vegas to cover the Consumer Electronics show which just happened to coincide with Adult Video Expo, I remember trying to get served at the bar surrounded by porn stars. I gave up waiting to be served in the end.
Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?
Al: The opportunity to quit the 9-5 rat race
Steph: Thank you for your answers Al.