One of my favorite things about running a business on the internet is that you can meet with people all over the world and discover new ways to make money every day. In addition to blogging, I’ve done a lot of advertising through major social networks like Facebook and Plenty of Fish. Tom Fang has become a master at advertising through POF and has also done well with helping others in the process, thanks to his blog. Be sure to read the full interview below and also read up on our previous meet the bloggers series to learn how others are monetizing their traffic and advertising online.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
My parents and I were first generation immigrants (I was 9 years old). They divorced soon after I came to the US, and I remember a time when my single mother was making $400/month to support us because she couldn’t get a real job with a student visa.
I just worked really hard, and because of the opportunities in this country and the free education and healthcare it provided me as a child, I was lucky enough to get into Wharton, where I studied finance and real estate.
After some time spent in real estate private equity, I decided to take a huge pay cut and try to start my own business. I practically grew up on the internet and eventually ended up in the performance marketing space.
I have a deep passion for technology, so I decided to start a company, iPyxel Creations, that built technology for performance marketers to make ad buying more efficient and hassle-free. The iPyxel blog I started was inbound content marketing, and I was surprised that it became relatively popular in a few months.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
The blog’s focus is to provide actual learning through tutorials, case studies, and specific tips and insights for digital marketers to improve on their marketing repertoire, which includes topics on creating landing pages, copy-writing, conversion optimization, data-analysis using, Excel, and traffic source-specific tips.
A lot of people think our blog only focuses on the POF traffic source, but in reality, most of our posts apply to any performance marketer. Most of our case studies is on POF, and that’s because our first technology product, POFpro, is a specialized ad buying platform for POF.
When starting the blog, I thought there were enough news sites, income report blogs, and personal blogs that wrote about people they met and places they went. We wanted our blog to truly add value as an actionable learning resource.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
We don’t. I think maybe we used an affiliate link in one of the posts before, but I honestly don’t remember. We turn down requests to do paid posts and actually do them for free if I think it’s a product that will help our readers. I’ve turned down all requests to do banner advertising.
With our blog, the one and only purpose is to create value for readers so that we hopefully get their trust, mind share, and maybe someday they will try our products. If they do, they will love it and hopefully spread the word. I want readers to know that we’re never getting paid to do or say something.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
I wish I knew the importance of networking with other bloggers and actually catering posts to bloggers rather than just readers. If you write a great post that other bloggers like, they will retweet to their followers, which is equally as important as getting visitors through Google.
Most of the bloggers I know are way better than me at garnering a following, and I feel really thankful that I have had the support of many of them. There is no way our blog could have grown without the support of these guys, and I will remember them as having done me many favors.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
AdExchanger, TechCrunch, AffPosts (not a blog, but a blog aggregator).
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
Like I mentioned, most of the good bloggers I know are way better than we are at doing these special tweaks and using special tools. We just come up with topics that we think marketers can benefit from, usually because it’s something we wish we knew before we knew it.
We use pretty basic stuff: WordPress (with Disqus, Feedburner, All in One SEO Pack plugins), Buffer for posting to Twitter/Facebook, and Photoshop.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Pick out a specific audience and really focus on exactly what type of resource you want to be. You should try to be better than everyone else at that specific niche or type of resource. If you’re just writing the same kind of stuff everyone else is, no one would need to come to your blog. Also, become an expert at something, and especially in the beginning, guest blog! Give your best content to the best blogs you can guest blog at.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
That’s a hard one because there are so many, but I have to reiterate the importance of guest blogging. A lot of blogs have readers, but blogs take a lot of time and energy. If you can just hand over an awesome piece of content to a blog with readers who will be interested in what you have to say, that is a no-brainer for the blogger. Don’t target the biggest and best blogs as they probably have too many requests. There are a lot of mid-sized blogs that people just don’t try to blog for.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d probably pay someone on Elance to create a simple product, software or info, that would be easy to use and valuable for my targeted readers. I would give that away for free to collect emails and gain readership. This is actually exactly one of the things I did. I hired someone from the Ukraine and paid $100 to make an Excel spreadsheet that allowed you to copy and paste a couple reports and crunch the data to compare ad performance.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Thanks again Tom 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.