This week is the first week of our Q&As, a series we’ll be doing weekly with experts in our field, so we can learn and grow from their wisdom. Stay subscribed so you can read them weekly!
We’re excited to present our first one: last week, we had the chance to (virtually) sit down with Adam Connell from Blogging Wizard. We asked him all about blogging—and he gave us some awesome insight and great blogging tips. It’s a must-read for any serious blogger.
Essential Blogging Tips: Interview with Adam Connell, Founder of Blogging Wizard & Julia McCoy
If you’re at any stage in blogging (just beginning, several years in the game, etc.) you’ll love what Adam has to say. Let’s get started!
1. What inspired you to create Blogging Wizard?
Before starting Blogging Wizard I’d launched a few different blogs and the success I’d had helped me land a marketing job. After working at the agency for a while I wanted an outlet to share what I was learning, and in particular help other bloggers. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and scribbled “Blogging Wizard” on a piece of paper and went to sleep. The following day I purchased the domain name and started planning.
2. Tell us a little about your success story.
Like most new blogs, it took a while to take off. Especially as I didn’t have much free time to grow Blogging Wizard. But as time went on I landed some good guest blogging opportunities on the likes of Problogger, and Search Engine Journal. I focused on connecting with other bloggers and began being featured in group interviews, as well as some coverage in HuffPost and CIO. In June 2014 I’d grown my blog to the point where I could leave my full time marketing job and focus 100% on blogging. Since then I’ve been mentioned on the likes of Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. At the moment I get around 60K-70K monthly readers.
3. What’s one piece of advice you would give someone just starting out in blogging?
The most important thing to get nailed down at the start is what you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you make sure that you get there? Sure, you might end up there by chance but if you take control of your goals, you can make sure it happens.
The next step is to work backwards from your end goal and figure out exactly how you’re going to get there. Break everything down into smaller, more manageable steps.
Look at it from a tactical level too. You want to grow your audience and be able to keep more people coming back to your blog, so what’s the best way to do that? For most blogs, it means building an email list! So once you know what to focus on, you can build your blog around it and prioritize other things like social media accordingly.
For example, I get more traffic from my email list than my social following, despite my social following being larger. So while I still work on improving my social presence, my blog is geared more to encourage email sign ups than social follower growth.
The bottom line is this: know what you want to achieve, break it down into smaller steps and you’ll achieve your goals much faster. These are my blogging tips.
4. What’s a good way a blogger can narrow down on the right audience?
First you need to make sure you’re in the right niche. I see so many blogs that start off so well and then fade into obscurity, this is usually because the blog owner has lost interest or they weren’t able to make the blog financially viable.
So, start off right and consider 3 things – what you love, what you know and can you make money in that niche? Even if your goal isn’t to make money now, it may be in the future, after all, we’ve all got to put food on the table.
The truth is that there’s usually a way you can make a blog profitable with some out of the box thinking, but when all other methods fail you can offer the skills you’ve attained as a blogger as a service – still, it’s good to consider revenue potential at the start. Having knowledge and experience you can draw upon is a valuable asset but I’m a big believer that you can learn anything you put your mind to, but the bottom line is that it helps.
Above all else, the biggest consideration should be what you’re passionate about. You can make a success out of a blog that you’re not passionate for but it’s VERY challenging. And it defeats the point of starting a blog, most bloggers blog because they want to do what they love. By focusing on a niche you’re passionate about you will grow an audience faster (passion shows through in your writing) and you’ll be far more motivated to succeed.
This is just the starting point though, the next step is to get as clear as possible on WHO you’re helping and HOW you’re going to help them. Be as specific as possible and really get to the core of who your target audience is. Creating an elevator pitch is a good idea, something like “I help ____ to _____”. For example, for a new project I’m working on, our elevator pitch is “we help solopreneurs streamline their life and streamline their business”. So get clear on who you’re helping and how you’re going to help them (i.e. the problems you’re going to solve) and your blog will grow so much faster. You’ll find it easier to speak to your audience and your audience will immediately see why they should follow your blog.
To get clear on the WHO and the HOW, you could try to find online communities in your niche and ask people to fill in a survey. You can then use this data to flesh out some reader persona’s.
But, you may find that you need to launch your blog initially and cast a somewhat larger net. This is because you learn so much more about your target audience after you launch your blog.
Everything from email exchanges, comments and research for content ideas will teach you something more. After a while, you’ll start to clarify the vision for your blog.
5. What’s a good typical consistent blogging schedule for any business starting their blog?
Every industry is different and every target audience has their own unique dynamics. The best advice would be to publish content as often as your audience can consume it, but factor in content length too. The longer the content you publish, the longer it’ll take your readers to consume it.
But, when you first launch a blog, it’s worth publishing more content over the first few months and then settling into a more consistent schedule afterwards.
6. What’s one tip you’d offer on writing an awesome blog post?
An awesome blog post is subjective but for me, I prefer to read blog posts that are usable.
Actionable advice is key. The web is littered with blog posts that are surface level and for the most part, difficult to use. The main thing is that someone can read your post and implement some of your advice, without being left thinking “yeah, that’s great but how do I do that?”.
7. How would you describe the way SEO keywords should fit into blogging?
SEO in general cannot be ignored, unless you want to give up on the potential of thousands of extra targeted visitors. Looking at keywords is a great way to come up with proven topic ideas but when it comes to writing content, forget keywords. Use keywords to discover proven content using tools like SEMrush.com and BuzzSumo but above all else, ensure that your content is written for people above search engines.
Search engines have evolved and engagement metrics (e.g. pogosticking between search results) will show search engines what people think of your content.
8. What’s one thing important to keep in mind about blogging specifically in 2015?
This isn’t anything new for 2015 but it’s important.
The web is a noisy place and with blogging becoming increasingly popular, it’s becoming more difficult to rise above the noise. This means we’ve got to keep trying out new things and pushing boundaries to ensure we cut through the noise.
9. How would you say blogging fits into the content marketing sphere this year? For one, it’s vital, right?
As a blogger, I’d say it was vital but the truth is that it all comes down to what you want to achieve. And there are some businesses that aren’t a good fit for blogging, a good example is a client I worked with in the financial sector, they had restrictions on what they could share on the web, so much so that they couldn’t start a blog.
Starting a blog is a huge investment and it’s not a quick content marketing fix; It takes time to start seeing results.
But, if blogging makes sense for your business and you’re ready to focus on creating a long term, viable business – Blogging is vital.
10. We love the content you share! Thanks for being a great inspiration in the content marketing community and sharing your blogging tips.
My pleasure, thanks for inviting me to take part in the interview Julia!
Adam Connell is the Founder of Blogging Wizard and Marketing Director at UK Linkology. He spends his time helping others get more visibility online.