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 Alex Papadimoulis of The Daily WTF
The Daily WTF
Alex Papadimoulis lives in Berea, Ohio. He is a managing partner at Inedo, LLC. which brings custom software solutions to small and mid-sized businesses and helps other software development organizations utilize best practices in their products.
He is also the creator of TheDailyWTF.com. It all began when he initially posted an entry entitled “Your Daily Cup of WTF” on his old blog in 2004, complaining about the quality of development at his then current employer. Three days later a reader suggested that Alex should start a new website dedicated exclusively to “bad code” postings, and a few days later he indeed went ahead and registered TheDailyWTF.com where he began posting stories from readers.
Within a few months the traffic exploded and he had to switch from self hosting in his basement to a dedicated server. TheDailyWTF.com now receives approximately 5 million page views and 1.5 million unique visitors per month.
Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?
Alex: Readership. With marketing and SEO, it’s not a huge challenge to drive one-time click-throughs and traffic, but I think what’s really important is a real readership. Folks who visit every day or two and read what content you have to offer.
Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?
Alex: When I realized that I could no longer use the Internet at home due to all the bandwidth WTF was using up, and had to move the site from my basement-hosted server to a “real” dedicated server at hosting facility.
Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?
Alex: A lot depends on luck and timing of course, but I’d estimate two to three years. At least, that’s what I’ve seen from colleagues who now host successful blogs.
Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?
Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?
Alex: In no particular order:
Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?
Alex: None specifically on blogging, but any book that teaches one how to write better would certainly help.
Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?
Alex: It’s hard to say, especially by how I measure success (steady readership). But the one that comes to mind is a series of posts, The Virtudyne Saga. It was a four-parter that told of the rise and fall of one of the industry’s worst software disasters.
Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post? As well what’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?
Alex: Write well and write consistently.
While a typo here or an improperly used word there may not seem like a big deal, it really hurts the overall quality of the publication.
Readers aren’t nitpicky, but mistakes certainly come through in the writing. It gives it an “unfinished” and “rough” feel, and a lot of readers aren’t looking for mediocre content.
As for consistency, generally speaking, no one wants to read a publication that’s about cats one day and politics the next. It’s important to stay on topic and write on deadline. If you want to write daily, then write daily. If it’s weekly, then make sure to write once a week. Too little or too much variation on the schedule hurts, too.
Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?
Alex: At first, they’re critical. In a sea of posts from other blogs, there’s just no other way to grab someone’s attention. But a title alone won’t keep readers; good content is key.
And on that same line, a deceptive title doesn’t help anyone: sure, readers will click it, but no one’s going to come back, and eventually, no one will trust the blog.
Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?
Alex: I’ve been fortunate not to have to do any marketing.
Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?
- Write well
- Write consistently
- Be accurate
- Develop policies
- Take it seriously
Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?
Alex: The biggest mistake that I’ve seen new bloggers make is meta- and linkblogging. Meta-blogging is writing about blogging (“sorry I haven’t updated in a while, I promise to soon…”) and link blogging is merely passing along a
single link to another blog without any additional insight or commentary on the matter.
Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?
Alex: I would have told myself, “Are you sure you want to get in to this? It’s going to be a lot of work, and take up a lot of your day, and will be almost impossible to get away from.”
Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?
Alex: Intrusive advertising.
Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.? And if so what is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?
Alex: Yes, and by far the best has been ads.
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?
Alex: It’s hard to place a value on the opportunities, especially in my line of work (consulting). While I think it has certainly helped with networking, no one has come up to me and said, “I read your blog, I’d like to pay you for your
services.” Well, unless you count writing services—I certainly have had the opportunity to write articles for other publications as a result of blogging, but the rate for writing articles is certainly less than advertisements (and a whole
lot more work).
Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?
Alex: As a direct result of the blog—probably the opportunity to write in other publications. I’ve written in a few books and magazines, and am a regular columnist for Redmond Developer News.
Steph: Thank you for your answers and taking this interview Alex.