The business of blogging is now more important and bigger than ever. With Google indexing more web sites and content daily, not only is it more effective than ever to create original blog content to rank more often, it’s also a requirement. With more than a billion active sites online creating content, it’s no longer about ‘just creating content’, it’s about ‘creating the best content’ possible.
For businesses and brands that are blogging, this is simply one of the best ways to reach new audiences, while also establishing yourself as an expert or trusted source in the process. In today’s Meet the Blogger interview, we are highlighting the business and blogging success of Andrew Lowen, who uses blogging to grow his online business and SEO marketing services.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
It all started back when I was trying to find my place in the world after college. I picked up web design alongside working toward a Firefighting career, and one fateful day one of my clients asked me to “optimize their website.” They paid me $50/mo for TWO websites, which was the single most awful SEO deal I have ever agreed upon. But it got me started. Fast forward seven years later, and I own a small business-focused digital marketing agency. Blogging is an essential part of getting SEO results for clients, and so it was of paramount importance to become good at it.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
We blog for many clients, but our company blog is based on helping small business owners spend their money wisely on digital marketing services. It’s so common for SMBs to get robbed by sketchy freelancers and SEO marketing or website design companies, and we put out information to equip them with the information they need to make wise choices.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
We monetize our blogging efforts in a few ways – we rank each blog for desirable keywords that being in the right traffic to our site, and small business owners request consultations. In addition, our blog is a major tool of acquiring back links to our website. High-quality back links add more weight and authority to what your website says, and as a direct result of writing great blogs that get quality links, the phone rings with people looking for advice or to purchase services! And lastly, our blogs have really helped prospective clients to trust us as the authority in our niche. If a client calls us about a particular service, we have many resources that we can leave in their hands for further research, including our blogs. Our honesty in our blogs have proven to earn more than just a prospective visitor’s trust — it also helps to earn their business!
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
Blogging every day or every week is pointless if you’re not focusing on delivering useful information to your audience, optimizing your page titles, writing the appropriate amount of content (2,000+ words nowadays), or editing so that your visitors can easily scan through your blogs (because nobody reads from start to finish). Beyond this, a blog post is almost pointless if you are not working to promote your content! If you write it, you must also have a strategy to get it in front of people. Your content may be excellent, but if nobody knows it exists, then you are “spinning your wheels” for nothing.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
Does Facebook count? We actually find a great many blogs through groups on Facebook! This proves my point that I made earlier: You need to be promoting your content. People are not as loyal to a brand nowadays as they once were if you are not promoting through social channels.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
First, I highly recommend using a social sharing plugin for your blogs. A colleague recommended using Social Warfare for WordPress once upon a time, and I have never looked back! People will share 10x more often if you make it easy – the ability to click one button and immediately share to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, etc. takes the thinking (and debating) out of the equation.
Second, you really need to use a decent keyword research tool. Since we are Google Partners with a significant amount of PPC [that] spend on Google AdWords, we get the best version of Google’s Keyword tool (the one that shows near-exact search volume). There really isn’t a better tool than this to use, but since most bloggers won’t be spending $10k+/mo with Google, the free tool is very lame, and we’d recommend SEMRush.
Third, you really need a tool to assist you with outreach and content promotion. We use Buzzstream to keep track of our outreach to bloggers as well as to gather blogs and blogger contact info. It really streamlines a labor-intensive process to get your info out there!
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
In addition to my advice in #4, don’t start with a heavy WordPress theme. Start with a light and simple theme that doesn’t have too many frills. You can always add more later, but the worst thing you can do is get distracted with the frills of your blog and avoid focusing on what makes you money: creating content!
A second piece of advice here is this: Do not be afraid to “curate” content (aka – take a successful blog post and restate it in your own words). Constantly producing new, innovative content is really tough to maintain over time, but there is a near-unlimited supply of content that you can source from the internet! Don’t be afraid to do just that. People need to read on the same subject 7 different times from 7 different authors to finally “get it.” So go curate and rank in the top 7 for legitimate traffic 🙂
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
I’m not kidding in any way when I say: The best way to make money blogging is by blogging. This is clearly more than common sense for most people. People love to talk about working hard, they love to read blogs about blogging (Looking at YOU, reader), and they love to take coffee breaks before they write a word on the keyboard.
Lock yourself in a room and write a gosh darn blog. JUST. DO. IT. NOW. (Or after reading #9 and 10 below)
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
If you’re going to do this, you probably work a part-time or full-time job. Blogging usually starts out as a side-gig, and your job is where you’ll come up with the $100, right?
Spend the first $90 on a simple WordPress theme (~$20-30), an easy install (Free – $30) and a few months of hosting ($30), and a social sharing plugin (Social Warfare is $29 paid, and can also be free). Plan on upgrading your hosting later (don’t pre-pay for a year), and don’t fret too much about buying a domain name that makes everyone think about how creative you are. Spend your last $10 to buy energy drinks so you can pump tons of hours into developing great content right from the start. And spend your remaining time engaging with influencers or on community forums related to your niche building a presence and connecting with the community (before you promote the crud out of your content… people will out you quick if you don’t learn the rules and earn some respect first).
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
You can always find our content at NextLevelWeb.com/blog or connect with us on Twitter at @NxtLvlWeb. We’re on Facebook and all that, but if you want to get in touch, there’s no better way than reaching out here!
Thanks again Andrew for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.