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Yes I’m Still Alive And Well

UpAndRunning

Yes I’m still alive and well. I know you’re not suppose to post a where have you been or sorry for not writing in a long time, but I’m going to break the rule since it’s been over a year since my last post.

So where have I been? Working very very very hard. It’s not an excuse for not posting yet at the same it is. I’ve been so overwhelmingly busy that I just haven’t had the time to post. Each post takes me about a day to write, well this one is an exception, but on average they take me several hours to about a day to write. I wish I had more time but I just don’t. As my company LandlordMax continues to grow I find that my time is more and more limited.

I’m not the only one, I remember for example reading Joel Spolsky’s blog JoelOnSoftware on a regular basis. I just looked at his blog recently and he’s only written two blog posts in two years, which made me feel better for not having as much time myself. He’s not the only one, it’s actually quite common, he’s just the one that came to my mind first as I was writing this. Unfortunately this is one of the side effects of growing your business. I’m of course going to do my best to be the exception to the rule!

That being said LandlordMax is now on it’s 12th year of business! We’re preparing to launch a web based cloud version of our property management software LandlordMax very shortly. Our current goal is before the end of the summer and we’re working very hard to achieve this goal!!

This obviously opens up a number of questions, such as what will it cost, and so on. All that I can say at this time is that we’re working out the details of our business model. A web based cloud version is very different than a downloadable version, there are different cost factors and so on to consider. So although we’re ready to announce that we plan on offering a web based cloud version very shortly, we’re not quite ready to announce it’s pricing model yet. That being said we’d love to hear your feedback and comments so please feel free to contact us.

That being said you should expect to start seeing some previews of the new web version shortly, including video previews. We’re not quite ready yet but it shouldn’t be too much long. The previews will not just be here but also through our email newsletter. I have to admit our email newsletter has also fallen quite behind but I plan on resurrecting it very shortly. And the closer we get to the release the more details and information I will be able to share.

So in the spirit of breaking the blogging 101 rules, here’s to apologizing for not posting more often and that I plan on posting more in the near future! Your classic Blog faux pas.






Blog Blazer Friday – Bob Walsh of 47 Hats

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 Bob Walsh of 47 Hats

bobWalsh

Bob Walsh
47 Hats
http://www.47Hats.com

Biography:

Bob Walsh is a cross between blogger (47 Hats, ClearBlogging.com, and ToDoOrElse.com), author (Clear Blogging and Micro-ISV:From Vision to Reality (both published by Apress), consultant helping microISVs and startups succeed through 1-to-1 consulting on product/company blogging and product positioning and microISV entrepreneur.

As a microISV’er, Bob is the founder of MasterList Professional, a Windows personal task and project manager. As well Bob is involved with Project X which is currently in stealth mode (some details are available through his blog).

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Bob: Depends on what you want from your blog. If you’re a microISV – or a regular company for that matter – you want your blog to be a conversation with your current and prospective customers, a source of valuable information to them about that part of the world your product lives in. It’s not about ad revenue – there shouldn’t be anything like an ad on your blog.

If you’re talking about blogging professionally, it’s all about traffic because traffic drives ad revenue and that’s what keeps food on the table. But you have to really, really care about what you’re focusing on in your blog – every week there’s a thousand “I’m going to be rich by blogging” blogs started; 990 are dead within a month.

The key to traffic is providing value to your readers. Whether that’s through finding value out there and bringing it back to your readers, sharing your experience/insight/questions, or whatever approach you take.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Bob: 2009. Seriously, my blogs are a work in progress, and I have miles to go with each before I’d say I’ve really done what I’ve set out to do.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Bob: Minimum of 3 months, more like 9 – Tim Ferriss is the exception that proves the rule.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Bob: In the parts of the blogosphere I focus on (productivity, tech, marketing and digital life) Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, and Seth Godin and Leo Babauta have all catapulted to the top of the blog food chain, done so quickly, and sustain their leads through the force of their passion and creatively.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Bob: About 400, actually. But the blogs that are on my must read list right now, the blogs I make time to read not just scan are:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Bob: One blog rules: Darren Rowse’s Problogger.net. This is THE blog to read: be prepared to spend a week or so reading and absorbing Darren’s great information.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Bob: Well, since you asked… Clear Blogging, by yours truly. What I set out to do in Clear Blogging is give someone who is brand new to blogging an understanding of how the major moving parts of blogging work, why they should blog, the kinds of blogs that currently exist, and just how much impact they could have as a blogger. Judging by the emails I get, and reviews, I succeeded.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Bob: In a nutshell, you’ve got to care about what you’re writing. Passion is what makes a blog worth reading. I’m not talking about passion as in shouting, screaming; I’m talking about passion for a subject that makes you hot and eager to write.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Bob: First, edit what you write. Go back, make sure the spelling and grammar work, and most of all make sure your ideas aren’t getting tied up in a knot by your words. Second, find and refine techniques that work for you to keep a steady flow of words from your keyboard to your blog.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Bob: Not very. I know the SEO-centric people will tell you different, but I’m trying to telegraph to my readers in one line why (hopefully) the words I’ve written are worth their time, not to please Google.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Bob: My blogs are my main marketing tools: the more I blog well, the more the phone rings and sales happen.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Bob: Commenting – with value and passion – elsewhere and creating posts that the people I want to reach find valuable. Google does the rest.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Bob: Guest posts – I’ve done guest posts for several blogs, most recently Lifehack.org. Each guest post lead to a jump in readership.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Bob:

  • Be passionate.
  • Be polite – trashing others comes back to haunt you.
  • Be pragmatic – don’t try to create perfect posts, you won’t succeed.
  • Be persistent – count on 4 months of obscurity before you get traction.
  • Be proactive – decide what you are going to blog about this week, then execute.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Bob: Not having a blogging plan. A blogging plan is very much like a business or marketing plan: it answers why you are here, what are you doing and why anyone will care. Not having the answers to those questions will doom a blog.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Bob: Beware of and be prepared for blogger’s blight – the strange affliction when your blogging dries up and you just don’t feel you have anything to write about. Every blogger I know of, except Scoble, has come down with this malaise, as have I.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Bob: Advertising in excess of the value of the blog.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Bob: Nope. None of my blogs currently exist for that purpose. Instead, they’ve brought me sales, consulting engagements and various opportunities worth far more than advertising would have brought in.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Bob: The only monetization I do is Amazon Affiliates – I figure if I am helping my readers by talking with them about a book, they won’t mind if I pick up a little pocket money in the process.

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?

Bob: Opportunities by far, but then again, my blogs exist because I want to talk about, and converse with others, about those subjects, not sell eyeballs.

Steph: Thank you for taking this interview Bob.






Blog Blazer Friday – Benjamin Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog

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 Benjamin Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog

Ben Yoskovitz

InstigatorBlog

Benjamin Yoskovitz
Instigator Blog
http://www.InstigatorBlog.com

Biography:

Benjamin Yoskovitz is a 10-year veteran of startups and entrepreneurship. He started his first company in 1996 while studying Psychology at McGill University. His focus has always been on technology and Web-related companies. His expertise is in building successful businesses from the ground up, as well as helping others to do the same.

Benjamin started his blog, Instigator Blog in 2006 and continues to blog regularly about startups, entrepreneurship, business, marketing and technology.

He is now also CEO & co-Founder of a startup in the recruiting space called Standout Jobs.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Benjamin: It depends on what goals you set out for your blog in the first place. The most common goal is to make money. A lot of people see blogging as a “get rich quick” scheme, and that’s certainly not the case. But, lots of people are making money from blogging, although very few, comparatively, are earning a living.

My preference, in terms of defining success, is based on the reach and influence you can have through your blog, as well as the opportunities your blog brings you as an authority (in whatever space you’re in.)

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Benjamin: My blog feels like a success each and every time it brings me a new opportunity that I otherwise would not have gotten. That might be as “small” an opportunity as meeting someone new (that otherwise would have been much more difficult to reach), or as “big” as generating significant consulting and speaking opportunities.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Benjamin: It takes forever. Blogging successfully – like being successful in business – is not an end goal, it’s a process.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Benjamin: There are too many to name. Certainly, there are a number of bloggers that make big money, and as much as making money from blogging fascinates me, it’s not my own goal (at least with Instigator Blog.)

So, I’d say:

  • Darren Rowse from ProBlogger – He remains a leader in the “blogging about blogging” world. Lots of people have followed, but no one comes close to his success.
  • Brian Clark from CopyBlogger – He’s been my writing guru. One of my “secrets” to success has been following his series of posts on writing great headlines. That’s not exactly a secret, of course, but surprisingly few people really follow what he writes.
  • Liz Strauss from Successful Blog – She’s a force to be reckoned with when it comes to building relationships through blogging. Heck, there’s an entire conference (SOBCon) named after and dedicated to her.
  • Fred Wilson from AVC – He’s setting the mark for venture capitalists that blog, and as an entrepreneur with a startup, this is great for me. And I bet Fred would tell you that his blogging has led to many interesting opportunities.
  • Maki from Dosh Dosh – He’s had one of the most meteoric rises as a blogger in the social media/blogging/online marketing worlds. Every post is detailed and thought provoking. I wish I could write like that.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Benjamin: I read over 100 blogs regularly, but here are 5 choices:

  • TechCrunch – It’s still one of the top resources for news on Web 2.0 startups and Internet technology companies. I also track: VentureBeat, Mashable, BlogNation and CenterNetworks which are all in the same vein.
  • JobMatchBox – This is an incredible blog on the recruiting and HR space, which is of particular interest to me because of my startup, Standout Jobs.
  • eMomsAtHome – Wendy is an amazing person and blogger. And don’t let the title of her blog dissuade you; she’s a master of Internet marketing, blogging, social media and much, much more. Wendy provides me insight and inspiration. Plus, she’s a friend.
  • Daily Blog Tips – A great blog about blogging by Daniel Scocco.
  • Cheezhead – Another killer blog about recruiting, and specifically the online recruiting world.

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Benjamin: I’ve already mentioned some, but here’s a list:

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Benjamin: Depends on how you define success. If you’re basing it on traffic, there are a few that stand out:

One of my favorites is – How-To Start a Company and Family at the Same Time. For starters, it’s quite personal, and it also uses a different format than most blog posts, relying heavily on images.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Benjamin: Write a great headline.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Benjamin: This is basic advice on how to write a good blog post. But even though it’s basic, people still don’t follow it well. I try and follow these tips religiously (even if I don’t succeed all the time!)

  • Stick to your niche (you’ve picked a niche, right?)
  • Write a great headline
  • Format posts well – use images, use sub-headlines, use bold & italics and other font treatments
  • Edit content vigorously before publishing it
  • Link to other bloggers often

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Benjamin: I don’t spend any money, but I do spend lots of time marketing. Of course, we need to define marketing:

  • Building relationships with other bloggers (start by linking to others and commenting on other blogs)
  • Using social media and social bookmarking sites (i.e. Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.)
  • Writing guest posts on other blogs (which I’ve done on Pronet Advertising and Copyblogger)

I don’t have any issues with spending money on marketing, but generally I think it’s hard to buy an audience.

I do think you should spend money on your blog design if you can’t design a great blog on your own.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Benjamin: I’m still surprised, from time to time, by the eagerness and willingness of the blogging community to help other people (including me.) The concept of “reciprocity” is still strong within the blogosphere.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Benjamin:

  • Write great content (Ha! That’s a huge tip…)
  • Interact with others – You can’t blog by yourself and expect people to find you
  • Link to others frequently
  • Learn about social media / social bookmarking and how to take advantage of those
  • Build one on one relationships with authorities in the blogging world (and in your niche) before you focus on building lots and lots of traffic.
  • Make sure you have a good blog design (Yes; design matters.)
  • Register a domain name

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Benjamin: There are a few:

  • Obsessing over traffic. It’s hard to not study your traffic numbers on a minute-by-minute basis, but try not to get overwhelmed by the lack of traffic your blog might get initially.
  • Thinking that blogging is easy. It’s not. It takes lots of effort, planning, networking, etc.
  • Not linking to other blogs in an effort to keep visitors from leaving.
  • Writing poor headlines.
  • Focusing on monetization too quickly.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Benjamin: There are two:

  • Know what you want to talk about. I started blogging without knowing what niche I’d focus on. In fact, I still don’t focus on a specific niche, but I’ve learned to live with that. It’s just the way my blog works; but I know it could be more successful from a traffic perspective if it was more focused. I write about multiple niches because I have multiple interests and my blog is designed to increase my own reach and improve my personal brand in those subjects.
  • Write better headlines.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Benjamin:

  • Too much advertising.
  • A crappy design
  • Lousy writing (including dull headlines)

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Benjamin: Yes, but very little. I don’t focus on monetization since it’s not the point of the blog.

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?

Benjamin: I make more money from opportunities that come because of the existence of the blog, without a doubt. That’s because my blog is designed to bring me opportunities beyond blog monetization.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Benjamin: My startup, Standout Jobs, can be traced back to blogging. I started my blog in an effort to build some name recognition and personal brand in the spheres of entrepreneurship and business. As a result of blogging, I went out to some local blogger meetings and other tech meetups in Montreal. I met my co-Founders in Standout Jobs at those meetings. So, by virtue of starting a blog, I ended up with more opportunities to network locally, and was able to meet the people I started Standout Jobs with. If that doesn’t show you the power of blogging, nothing will.

Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Benjamin: Blogging isn’t for everyone. But it’s one of the most effective ways for people and businesses of building authority, name recognition and personal brand. It’s one of the most effective ways at building up opportunities for yourself – locally and from all over the world.






Blog Blazer Friday – Ben Casnocha of My Startup Life

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 Ben Casnocha of My Startup Life (now called The Start-Up of You)

BenCasnocha

TheStartupOfYou

Ben Casnocha
My Startup Life
http://www.thestartupofyou.com/blog/

Biography:

Ben is one of the younger bloggers in this book, being only 20 years of age. However don’t think his age has anything do to with lack of world experience. By the age of 14 he had already founded his second company, Comcate.

Unlike most other high school students who skip school to have fun, Ben was sneaking away from school for early morning flights to visit prospective clients. This is all the while captaining his high school basketball team and editing the school newspaper!

He has also been featured on CNN Headline News, TechTV, and profiled in the SF Weekly . He has spoken at Stanford University and many other business forums.

Above this, Ben has also written the book “My Start-up Life” which is full of specific and actionable advice for any and all entrepreneurs.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Ben: For me, it’s influence. I want my ideas to spread.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Ben: When people told me I changed their opinion on something. That’s influence.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Ben: Depends. It takes several months to get in the groove and attract an audience.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Ben: I look up to Jeff Jarvis, Brad Feld, Tyler Cowen, and others.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Ben:

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Ben: I wrote a popular post on “What Society Overcomplicates” – I argued that parenting and writing are two examples of things which are really really hard – but simple. And that society tends to overcomplicate both these tasks.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Ben: Be brief, be interesting, be personal.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Ben: Imported but overrated. Actual content is more important.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Ben: Not really.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Ben: Word of mouth, commenting on other blogs.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Ben: How powerful a link from a popular blog can be.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Ben:

  • Be it on for the long term
  • Write for yourself as much as for others
  • Be personal
  • Write well
  • Have fun

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Ben: Give up after a couple weeks since they feel no one is reading it. It takes time!

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Ben: Posts which say, “I haven’t posted in 10 minutes and received 20 emails about whether I was still alive. Yes, I’m still alive, just really busy!” If you’re too busy to post, then don’t post. Just don’t talk about how busy you are.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Ben: Some off advertising.

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?

Ben: Definitely related opportunities. By a HUGE factor. Most of the monetization is indirect.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?

Ben: I traveled through 20 countries overseas and in many big cities stayed with readers of my blog. Stayed in their house, that is. A wonderful experience.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Ben: The platform I have because of my blog probably helped convince a publisher to offer me a contract to write my book My Start-Up Life.

Steph: Thank you Ben for your time in taking this interview.

 






Blog Blazer Friday – Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks

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 Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks

Asha Dornfest

parentHackLogo

Asha Dornfest
Parent Hack
http://www.ParentHacks.com

Biography:

Asha Dornfest is the founder and publisher of Parent Hacks, a site devoted to parents’ scrappy, real-world tips and product recommendations.

Starting a blog was a natural outgrowth of Asha’s background in writing and technology. Before the Web was in popular use and well before kids, she and her husband Rael started a “Web design” business. In the early 90s, if you knew HTML, you were practically a Web designer by default. From there, Asha went on to write several computer how-to manuals, including “For Dummies” titles about Web publishing.

After her kids were born, her interest and writing inspiration turned to parenting, not because she felt a sense of expertise – in fact, just the opposite. Parenting was the first endeavor Asha undertook in which “reading the manual” had no effect, and, in some cases, made things harder. She started Parent Hacks as a place where parents could find those priceless tidbits of “worked for me” parenting advice one usually stumbled upon by chance – stuff that rarely showed up in the “expert” parenting manuals lining her bookshelves. Along the way, she discovered a generous and smart community of parents all of whom understand that when enough of us throw a bit of wisdom into the pot, it gets easier for all of us.

Asha is the mother of two children (an eight year-old son and a four year-old daughter), and the wife of a charming and brilliant geek. They live in Portland, Oregon.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Asha: Traffic, reach, and revenue are all metrics that can be measured so they get a disproportionate amount of attention. They’re important numbers. Absolutely. But even though I’m working on ways to make those numbers grow, I don’t actually think they are the most important indicators of success. Nothing like leading with a cliché, but I’ll do it anyway: a successful blog (or publication or business) improves the lives of its readers. That may mean supplying a time-saving tip, saving readers money, or making them laugh. Whatever…if a blog improves the lives of its readers, they’ll keep coming back, and when they do, the traffic, reach and revenue will follow.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Asha: Reached success? Hmmm, I don’t think success is an end point, really. That said, I’m thrilled with my readers’ level of enthusiasm and involvement. I’ve always enjoyed the role of community facilitator, and I feel like that’s what I’ve become at Parent Hacks. It’s more than a one-way blog…it’s a conversation.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Asha: There’s no way to quantify the time it takes, although folks in it for the long haul certainly have an advantage. Parent Hacks is one of those unusual cases of a site taking off almost as soon as it launched (disgusting, I know.). I wish I could take all the credit and say that it was my brilliant forethought and subtle design, but serendipity played a big part.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Asha: My role models are Leo Babauta, J. D. Roth (Getting Rich Slowly) and Merlin Mann (43 Folders). Each writes a highly-engaging blog with a distinctive voice. Each built authoritative blogs because they wanted to improve an aspect of their own lives, and then share what they learned with the world. That generosity comes across in every page. None of these writers rests on the laurels of a “successful site;” they’re always looking for ways to give readers useful, well-written content. While each of these writers earns revenue from their sites, and is open about it, money never feels like the purpose of the blog. The bottom line is almost too simple: I like each of these people a lot.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Asha:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Asha:

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Asha: I find that books on blogging generally lag too far behind the info available online. On the other hand, marketing books, with Seth Godin’s books standing out in particular, are good reminders that our blogs are, indeed, worthy of great content AND good promotion.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Asha: Hard to judge, really. The post I’m most proud of is the one in which I shared the story of an American grandmother stationed in Iraq who collected toys and distributed them to children she met there. I encouraged Parent Hacks readers, along with all the bloggers I knew, to spread the word and donate toys, and we managed to create an incredible toy drive. People were so happy to be able to do something positive in the face of a terrible situation.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Asha: Economical writing. Follow those journalism rules — lead with a strong hook, and only write as much as you need to. But don’t make it so sparse that it feels impersonal. Readers should never wonder if there’s a person behind the blog. Bonus tip: if you’re funny, use humor. If you’re not (be honest), stick to useful.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Asha: Good writing counts. Connect with your readers.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Asha: Exceedingly important, both for time-challenged RSS subscribers and for a good showing in search engines.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Asha: No money (except a few hundred bucks on business cards and a great logo), but I should spend more time. I’ve really focused on community-building rather than on expanding the audience.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Asha: These would be my main methods if I spent the time I should on marketing: reaching out to print pubs, swapping posts with other sites, and just reaching out to people whose work I admire — that’s something I do naturally because I’m so interested in how people do things. I toy with working the Diggs and Facebooks of the world, but I never stick with it.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Asha: One thing I’m terrible at is analyzing my stats and testing my site improvements. As soon as people start asking me these sorts of questions I start stuttering. The quality that has likely made Parent Hacks as successful as it is — my focus on content and community — may bite me down the road, because I don’t do anything with the pile of Google Analytics data I’ve got right in front of me.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Asha:

  • Read Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style.”
  • Open your eyes to the world…soon you’ll be following every observation with “I’ve got to blog about this.”
  • Email your readers. If you don’t have any, email writers you admire (briefly, they’re busy). Jump in!
  • Don’t neglect your life offline.
  • Get your own domain name.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Asha: Trying to affect a cynical, snarky blog persona. I can’t STAND authors who throw around the negativity in an effort to appear intelligent or edgy. Come to think of it, I don’t like people who do that in real life, either.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Asha: Get help.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Asha: Bad writing.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Asha: Yep. Advertising (through Federated Media, Google AdSense and Feedburner) and Amazon Associates affiliate fees.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Asha: Depends on the time of year, but my Amazon earnings have had the biggest growth curve.

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?

Asha: I’ve gotten lots of offers (paid blogging jobs, book projects, etc.) as a result of my blogging, but I’ve turned almost all of them down in order to focus on my site.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?

Asha: Once again, the Iraq toy drive that happened as a result of a Parent Hacks post. It is so humbling to think that there are little children in Iraq, many of whom are orphans, that have toys, clothes and supplies as a result of my spending a couple of hours writing a post and emailing people from the comfort of my dining room. I don’t relate this story to pump up my self-importance, but to point out the amazing connective power blogs can have.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Asha: The chance to collaborate on a book with one of the most well-respected pediatricians in the country.

Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Asha: I just want to thank you for including me in this fascinating project! I can’t wait to hear what your other interviewees have to say. I still have so much to learn.

Oh — one last rah-rah. I just want to encourage folks who want to write anything to start blogging. For us extroverted writers, the isolation that comes with writing is often the most difficult part. While blogging still happens behind a computer, it thrusts you into a fascinating community of people, many of whom may even become friends.






Blog Blazer Friday – Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends

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 Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends

AnitaCampbell

smallBusinessTrendsLogo

Anita Campbell
Small Business Trends
http://www.SmallBizTrends.com

Biography:

Anita Campbell is the CEO of Small Business Trends, providing information and intelligence about the small business market and business trends affecting that market.

Her flagship website is the award-winning Small Business Trends, named a Forbes Best of the Web, a CODIE 2007 finalist, and noted and written about in the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC television.

Anita is a prolific writer with articles and columns published at Inc Technology, BNET.com, Work.com, Online Merchant Network, and a variety of other sites and print publications. She is the host of Small Business Trends Radio, broadcasted over the Internet.

Before starting her own business, Anita held a variety of senior executive positions, culminating in the role of CEO of an information technology subsidiary of Bell & Howell. Anita holds a B.A. from Duquesne University and a J.D. from the University of Akron Law School.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?                                                                   

Anita: Three factors, in this order:

Influence and community—in blogs you have the luxury to cover subjects that large mainstream publications can’t really cover—and you can cover them in a more personal style. This tends to increase the influence of a blog over mainstream pubs, because people identify with the style and the people behind the blog, and become members of a community. Once you achieve a community it can have a powerful influence.

Revenue—a business blog should lead to revenue, although it can be indirect. A blog can help with lead generation and in that indirect way can drive revenue.

Reach to niche audience—reach is important, but with blogs it’s reach to a niche audience. So it’s not just pure numbers, but rather whether you’re reaching particular niche audience in sufficient numbers. Plus you have to consider the size of the niche market and the type of market. A blog could be extremely influential at 10,000 visitors a week—if it’s the right 10,000.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?          

Anita: Success is a never ending journey, so I’m not finished yet! However, when I started receiving far more emails than I could comfortably handle, I knew I was making an impact. Success is a reflection of the demand for one’s time and involvement.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?                    

Anita: Unless you’re backed by a substantial financial stake and can hire researchers, writers and marketers, it really takes a good two years to get established today. Blogs are an example of the network economy and the “law of increasing returns.” At first the gains seem small, but as the network effect increases, it increases exponentially. So once a blog starts growing, the growth rate seems to accelerate.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?                                                                          

Anita: That depends on the markets they serve and the types of blogs they have. As a category, I’ve found blogs by entrepreneurs and small businesses to be successful compared to the size of the business—because a blog acts like a megaphone for the business.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?                                  

Anita:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?                                                                        

Anita:

Read and study some blogs in your industry or covering the same or related topics
Sign up for a good RSS feed aggregator, such as Bloglines.com and subscribe to 20 or 30 different feeds
Then find your own style and just get out there and start doing

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?                                

Anita: Get some good, regularly updated eBooks:

For SEO, either get SEOBook or Search Marketing for Small Businesses (by SearchEngineGuide.com).

For blogging as a business endeavor (i.e., to directly generate revenue) try Yaro Starak’s Blog Mastermind course. Subscribe to MarketingSherpa.com for great marketing insights.

As far as other blogging-related topics, my feeling is that if you are dedicated and spend time each week reading other blogs, you will learn the craft. Some of the most helpful, most specific and up-to-date information about blogging can be found online at other blogs. Print books on the topic tend to be either too general or may quickly be outdated.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?                               

Anita: I’ve written a couple of thousand posts, so it’s hard to point to just one. I’d say the most successful either have given very specific advice that is hard to find, or they’ve covered situations where I’ve provided some personal experiences.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?                 

Anita: Choose the right title and you’re at lest halfway there. Include a keyword (for search purposes) in a title, too. Think of how someone might search in a search engine to answer a question or research a purchase or solve a problem—mirror that in your title. This is not only good for getting the post listed in the search engines, but it tracks what is likely to appeal to readers.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?    

Anita: Write about what you know, and write original content as much as possible. Don’t waste too much time quoting other articles, unless you also have something to add. And don’t try to be like everyone else or a copycat. March to a different drummer.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?               

Anita: Crucial—see above. They can make or break an article. If you only have time to learn one blogging technique, I’d say focus on learning how to write great titles that speak to your audience and their pain points or desires.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?                                     

Anita: I spend lots of time on marketing—wish I could spend more time. You can’t expect to just write and have visitors come to you—that’s too passive. I have spent small amounts of money on marketing, running small Google AdWords campaigns and other techniques off and on. But my expenditures have not been large. But the hours I’ve invested are huge over the past four years.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?                                

Anita: Commenting on other blogs; guest posting in a select few other blogs; writing guest articles for business newsletters; occasional emailing of posts to other bloggers (not more than once a month); participating in blog carnivals; inviting guest posts on my blog; treating PR people with respect and giving them interviews for their clients or radio show appearances for their clients and thanking them afterwards; practicing good SEO copywriting techniques when writing blog posts; some social media optimization.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?                                                                           

Anita: Treating PR people with respect and interviewing their clients—wish I had time and resources to do conduct and write up interviews twice a day—I’d do it in a New York minute. What happens is that companies who get interviewed often will link to your post from their press section, blog, newsletter or sometimes even their home page—or all of the above. So the investment of time (sometimes it takes 2 to 4 hours to do an interview, review a product and write an article) can pay off. Of course, this tip only works if your blog is in effect a magazine—if your blog is there primarily to generate leads for your business then this technique does not translate well.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?                        

Anita: If your goal is for your blog to be highly trafficked and an 800-lb gorilla in your niche, then you must post once or twice a day—Technorati.com stats show that the most popular and influential blogs average two posts a day.

Hone your own style. I read style tips from other bloggers laid down as if they are hard and fast rules. But in reality, they amount to style preferences. One blogger may like posts that are quick, 200- to 300-word posts that are highlyopinionated. Another blogger might like to write objective data-rich essays of 750 to 1000 words. There’s no right or wrong—just make it fit your purpose and your audience. Example: if you’re writing a celebrity blog, readers probably do not want long essays filled with statistics. On the other hand, if you’re writing an economics blog, you’ll have more credibility with that audience if you write essays with detailed charts.

Chunk your content for the Web: Keep the chunks small visually, so that the eye can take them in. (Note: this is not the same as style—this is for readability on the Web where there is not as much contrast as the printed page.) Sentences between 10 and 25 words. Paragraphs between 3 and 5 sentences max. Liberal use of bullet points. Use of an image to break up large expanses of text and grab the eye’s attention.

SEO your posts. This means you must use a keyword in your posts. Generally you should use a keyword in the title; 2 or 3 times minimum in the post body; in tags in your post; and in alt tags for the accompanying image.

Try to post early in the day, by 7:00 am EST if you can. This ensures that the widest English-speaking audience across time zones will view your content as “fresh.” It can make as much as 10% difference in traffic.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?       

Anita: Wanting instant gratification and getting discouraged after 30 days. Building an audience and standing out from the crowd take time and hard work.

Steph:If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?                                         

Anita: Don’t stay on a free or hosted service longer than 90 days. For instance, don’t stay on Blogger, WordPress.com, or TypePad for long. If you really plan on blogging in a serious way, you need to host the blog with your own arrangements at your own domain URL. If you wait too long you end up starting all over again when you finally move—moving disrupts everything: your existing inbound links; PageRank; Technorati rank, RSS subscribers; and similar metrics.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?                                                            

Anita: Finding something I didn’t expect to find on a blog, such as a business blog that makes political statements. If I want business, I’ll go to a business blog. If I want politics, I’ll go to a political blog. But don’t mix the two.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?                                                      

Anita: Yes.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Anita: In this order:

  • Flat fee sponsorships (i.e. $xx per month for sponsorship rights)
  • Banner ads
  • Text link ads (with no follow tags, of course)
  • Selected affiliate programs
  • Google AdSense—I’ve never made much from AdSense, and consider them filler ads when I don’t have other ads filling the ad slots.

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?             

Anita: Opportunities that come from existence of the blog. But interestingly, that was not my goal. I was hoping that the blog would get me out of selling “time” and help me avoid doing consulting. I wanted to make money while I slept. But I find that the more popular the blog becomes, the more companies want to hire my services for consulting and speaking. I don’t even prospect for services work—it comes to me. But all due to the visibility and reputation established on the blog.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?                                                                     

Anita: I put up a SitePal avatar which looks like me because it was designed from my photograph. A former colleague from my corporate days ten years ago was so taken by the avatar that he emailed me. Turns out, he had been a regular reader of my blog but I hadn’t known it. It took the avatar to break the ice and get him to touch base with me. Now his company is a client of mine.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?                                                                           

Anita: The opportunity to work with companies like American Express OPEN and Intuit. As a small business owner, I can’t imagine figuring out how to break into companies like those, were it not for my visibility established from the blog.

Steph: Thank you Anita for taking this interview.






Blog Blazer Friday – Andy Brice of Successful Software

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 Andy Brice of Successful Software

AndyBrice

successfulSoftware

Andy Brice
Successful Software
http://SuccessfulSoftware.net

Biography:

Andy Brice is the founder of the software company Oryx Digital Ltd. He is also the creator of the software called PerfectTablePlan (sold by Oryx Digital Ltd.), a table seating planner for weddings, banquets and dinners. In addition to this Andy writes a blog about developing and marketing software called SuccessfulSoftware.net. He makes his living from the sales of his software product PerfectTablePlan through his company.

The blog SuccessfulSoftware.net was originally a sideline to his main software business however it has since generated significant interest and traffic from the community. On it you will find many useful and interesting articles, especially if you’re a small independent software vendor (ISV).

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Andy: It depends on what your objectives are for your blog. But obviously readership is important. I don’t think there is much point writing something if no-one else reads it.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Andy: I don’t think I have reached that point yet. Getting lucky once doesn’t count.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Andy: Ask me again in a few years.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Andy: Amongst the thousands of people blogging about software, I would guess that Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood are the most successful, in terms of readership and influence. They have very different styles, but their blogs are always very insightful, well written and entertaining. Although you could argue that Joel On Software isn’t strictly a blog, because it doesn’t have comments.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Andy: I track about 30 different blogs in my RSS reader, nearly all related to software development and marketing. It’s tough to single out a few. But three that stand out for me are:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Andy: None really. Blogging is far too incestuous as it is. Just write about things that you care about that you think other people will care about.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Andy: I haven’t read any books about blogging, so I can’t comment.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Andy: I wrote a minor investigative piece showing that many software download sites were giving out bogus awards to get back links. I think every software author who submits to download sites knew this was going on, but I proved it by getting a page full of awards for a program that didn’t even run (it was a renamed text file). I hoped a few hundred people might read the article, but the response was quite overwhelming.

It made it to the front page of Digg.com, Reddit.com and Slashdot and even got a mention in the Guardian newspaper. According to my WordPress stats it has had 157,000 hits in the three months since I wrote it, with 53,000 hits on the peak day. I hope that the article will make some small contribution to ending this ugly practice.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Andy: Write well. Don’t listen to people like me who got lucky once.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Andy: I think the headline is important to draw people in. But they won’t stay long if the rest of the article isn’t well written.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Andy: Not really.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Andy: I include a link to my blog in my email signature. That’s it.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Andy: Too much commentary and not enough content. Try to write something interesting, rather than comment on something someone else wrote.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Andy: I don’t run ads on my blog and I always try to make clear any interests I might have.

So far I have managed a free t-shirt from Eric Sink, $10 in e-junkie referral fees and 2 additional sales of my PerfectTablePlan software. I don’t think I will be retiring from writing software any time soon.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Andy: Writing a blog takes a lot of time and effort. I think most people who write a blog hope for something in return for their efforts. One of my goals is to raise the profile of the consulting side of my business. But I currently don’t have any time to spare from PerfectTablePlan, so it’s a long-term goal. Also I like writing. It’s nice to be able to sound off about things you care about.

Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Andy: Register your own domain. Don’t rely on a blogging service to provide one for you. It is very cheap, convenient and easy to use a free service, such as WordPress.com. They are also very well set-up to handle the inevitable traffic spike if you get ‘slashdotted’. But it does come with its own risks. WordPress can shut down your blog without a warning, without a reason and without any right of appeal. It happened to my blog not long ago. Apparently it was an honest mistake on their part and they restored full access. But if they hadn’t, at least I would have been able to redirect somewhere else from SuccessfulSoftware.net.






Blog Blazer Friday – Alex Papadimoulis of The Daily WTF

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

TheDailyWTF

Alex Papadimoulis
The Daily WTF
http://www.TheDailyWTF.com

Biography:

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.

Interview:

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?

Alex: I guess I’d have to refer to what the “authorities” say on the matter, Technorati.com, Alexa.com, etc.

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?

Alex:

  • 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.






Blog Blazer Friday – Al Carlton of Coolest Gadgets

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

Al-Carlton

coolestGadgets-logo

Al Carlton
Coolest-Gadgets.com
http://www.Coolest-Gadgets.com

Biography:

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.

Interview:

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?

Al: Problogger.net would be a good place to start, I also like DailyBlogTips.com.

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?

Al:

  • Be unique
  • Persevere
  • 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.?

Al: Yes

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.






Blog Blazer Friday – Abdylas Tynyshov of AdesBlog.com

Each week I will be 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 Abdylas Tynyshov of AdesBlog.com

abdylas-tynyshov

adesLogo

Abdylas Tynyshov
AdesBlog.com
http://www.adesblog.com

Biography:

Abdylas (also known as Ades) was born in 1978 in Kyrgyz Republic, popularly known as Kyrgyzstan internationally. It’s a tiny republic in Central Asia with a population of approximately 5 million people .It’s one of the former 15 countries that gained independence after the collapse of USSR in 1991.

This important incident brought along a lot of opportunities to Kyrgyz people from the outside world. Suddenly lots of countries were opening businesses, schools, and universities in Kyrgyzstan. One of these schools was his high school, which was opened by Turkish educational organization called SEBAT, in conjunction with Kyrgyz Government.

After graduating from Kyrgyz-Turkish High School in 1996, Abdylas applied to International Islamic University, in Malaysia (IIUM). He was accepted to the Department of Information & Communications Technology (ICT). He then graduated from IIUM in 2002, and went straight into the IT Industry. Initially, he worked as a Web-Designer, with his last position being a Creative Lead. But after working for about 3 years, he decided to concentrate on his own projects and pursue his education. By this time he was running a few online projects generating some income, so much that in November 2005, he was officially self-employed.

Today Abdylas is doing his MBA at Management Centre of IIUM, majoring in Strategic Management. He is also actively involved in several personal projects, including his blog and a few other websites which generate over 2 million unique visitors a year combined.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Ades: Personally I think the person behind the blog makes the blog successful. His or her ideas, expertise in certain field, his or her thoughts and predictions make the blog stand out from the crowd.

However on internet, mostly traffic, monthly revenue and the number of RSS subscribers determine the success of the blog. Not always, but most of the time.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Ades: Success is very subjective. Personally I believe that I have a long way to go. Some people might consider me successful already, however I think I still have a lot to learn. So for me, success is a lifelong journey.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Ades: It takes several months to fully grasp how various tools and technologies related to blogging work. It takes another few months to perfect your writing skills. So basically, it could take up to a year to be a successful blogger.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Ades: It would be Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net and John Chow of JohnChow.com.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Ades:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Ades: I think Problogger.net is a great place to start. Darren has covered most of the blogging related things already.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Ades: I personally think you don’t need to buy a book to learn how to blog. There are plenty of websites and blogs that teach you how to start your own blog for free. However new bloggers can consider this book The Rough Guide to Blogging 1 by Rough Guides

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Ades: I have written a post (guide) on blog posting frequency that consists of three parts. It’s one of my favorite posts. You can read it at http://www.adesblog.com/2007/10/06/guide-on-blog-posting-frequency/

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Ades: The first and foremost, the post must be useful to the reader.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Ades: Always incorporate your own thoughts and analysis when blogging about particular issue or topic. Because at the end, it’s your personal opinion that counts. Your thoughts and ideas are your competitive advantage that differentiates you and sets you apart from other bloggers.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Ades: Extremely important. Because people like to scan the headlines, especially the new visitors. Your regular readers might read the whole post from beginning till the end, but new visitors will often scan the headlines first. Thus it’s important to have catchy and descriptive headlines that will turn these new visitors into regular readers.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Ades: Yes, sometimes.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Ades: Sometimes I would buy a banner advertisement from other blogs for a month or two. I have also used StumbleUpon’s advertising service. Other than that, I try to concentrate on producing quality content. After all, it’s the quality of the posts that matter the most (at least for me).

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Ades: StumbleUpon. If you have great content, you will be surprised how well StumbleUpon can perform. StumbleUpon can have the multiplier effect that other advertising programs don’t. You can read more on this effect on my post titled “Effective advertising strategy using StumbleUpon” available at http://www.adesblog.com/2007/07/02/effective-advertising-strategy-using-stumbleupon/.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Ades:

  • Blog in a category that you have expertise
  • Register your own domain name
  • Use WordPress, it has many advantages over other platforms
  • Blog in your own style, do not imitate others
  • Have a professional design for your blog

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Ades:

  • Start blogging on free blogging platforms like blogspot.com
  • Being carbon copy of popular bloggers i.e. talking exactly on topics that these popular bloggers are currently talking
  • Monetizing the blog too much, filling the blog with all sorts of advertisements

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Ades: Register problogger.com and problogger.net (wink).

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Ades:

  • Too many ads inside the content.
  • Too many posts a day, anything more than 5 would be too much for me.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Ades: Yes. Most of my income comes from advertising, and some from paid reviews.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Ades: Text links ads. Text-Link-Ads.com and LinkWorth.com has been working really well on my blog. But it might not be the case in the few months to come, because of Google’s tough stance on paid links.

Another method is of course direct advertisements. This includes text links, banner ads, and paid reviews for me.

From affiliate marketing programs, Shutterstock.com has been doing really good for me. It’s a website where people can sell their digital photos. When you refer people to ShutterStock.com, you get paid for every sale that the referred person makes.

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?

Ades: At this point in time, definitely from the direct monetization methods

Steph: Thank you Ades for the interview.






 
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