One of the biggest reasons why people find so much success with blogging and online marketing is because there are so many useful resources out there and people to help you along the way. Sean Si created his SEO-Hacker blog to help others better understand how to rank in the search results and also spread awareness about his business and WordPress too. Now that’s a great example of how to put your WordPress blog to use for you, and all of it will be explained in this week’s latest installment of Meet the Bloggers.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
Hey guys, my name’s Sean and I’m the blogger and editor-in-chief of SEO Hacker and God and You. I’m a motivational speaker who loves to read and write. Writing was always my muse since I was young. I figured to take it on the world stage through blogging – I started my first blog, God and You when I was 19 years old. Wrote some articles there and figured out that I needed more traffic. That eventually led me to finding out about SEO and starting out an SEO blog.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
For God and You, I blog about my beliefs as a born again Christian – things about philosophy, apologetics, love and dating, and so on and so forth. For SEO Hacker, I blog about all things SEO and inbound marketing – from news, to how-to’s to data-driven case studies.
Well for SEO Hacker, it started out as a journal of the things I’m learning about in SEO. When people started sharing my articles and asking me if I can do their site’s SEO, it quickly turned into an SEO services gig. So I kept writing because it fueled my business as I shared my expertise to other people who are interested in learning the ropes of SEO.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
I have affiliate products such as Hubstaff, Monitor Backlinks, Cognitive SEO, Inspectlet, Pivotal Tracker, and SEMrush (who are also my business partners) as well as my own products such as SEO Hacker School and Qeryz being advertised on my blog entries, toolbox and sidebar.
These haul in a pretty good amount to pay the bills. But my main stream of income right now comes from clients – which the blog has referred consistently as well.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
When I first started, I had no idea about SEO, Social media marketing, awesome internet marketing tools, and a lot of other things. Things that helped me get where I am today.
To make my answer a little more specific, here’s a shortlist:
SEO is all about awesome quality content but it doesn’t stop there – you have to make sure that it goes out, people read it, and people eventually link to it and/or share it over their social media properties.
Social media marketing is an amplifier. It’s not meant to drive in consistent, ‘passive’ traffic to your website. It’s better used for increasing brand awareness and spreading word or promotions to target demographics.
PPC (pay-per-click) is a brilliant form of rental. Unlike SEO where you are pretty much fixed on your website’s rankings after a good, successful campaign, PPC is a short way to get to the top – unfortunately, it’s only temporary. Once you stop paying rent, your ranking doesn’t just go down, it disappears altogether.
CRO (conversion rate optimization) is one of the best things an analytical person can play with. You can go crazy with tools like Unbounce, Google Analytics Content Experiments, Qeryz, Inspectlet and a lot more besides. In fact, this blog entry tells you all about how we’ve used the tools to improve our signups by 80% at Qeryz.
These tools make you understand your traffic in their behavior like no other – and it’s just fascinating to see them work as your visitors go in and out of your site.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
It has changed overtime. What I’m reading now is not the same list of blogs I was reading when I was starting out. So I’ll list a combination of both in no chronological order.
- Search Engine Land
- Occam’s Razor
There’s a lot more but I don’t visit them as often as the ones I listed down here. We usually give out the best of inbound marketing news that me and the rest of the SEO Hacker team reads at our Growth Hacks Top 10 newsletter.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
For blogging one of my favorite tools is Aweber. People who subscribed to your newsletter are people who are 340% more likely to share your content over social media and email. These are your listeners who are tuned in. Email marketing has played a huge part in growing my blog.
Just recently, Qeryz has helped me out by gathering user insights which helps me publish data driven content. There’s really no better way for you to know your traffic than asking them. Qeryz helps you by eliminating the hassle of a web survey while providing your users an unobtrusive platform to give their responses – all in your website. (If you’re interested, you can sign up for free here)
Google Analytics – There’s really only a handful of ways to measure a blog’s growth and success than the traffic, pageviews, time on site, bounce rate, and subscriptions among others. Google analytics gives you all that in one place. It also helps you track goals you may have for your blog through events tracking, URL destination or browsing duration. You can check out our guide about how to start using Google analytics here.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
When I started blogging, I wrote about the biggest thing in my life that I love – God. That’s one huge reason why I keep on going. There will be roadblocks, there will be dips and there will be challenges that you are going to face along your journey of blogging. The only way you’ll get through that is if you love what you’re blogging about.
Passion has a huge part to play in going through the dip.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
Start with a laser-focused niche. Don’t blow a hole open and charge forward blogging about an entire industry – let alone a popular one.
You can’t compete with the bigger blogs – they’ve been there for a while. They have better domain age and authority than you. They have more content, thicker index, better link profiles and what have you. If you are going to go against them, you’re going on a steep uphill climb.
Rather go for a small niche, be the best at it, and when the traffic starts to roll in and people start to appreciate your work, make connections then spread out to other relevant niches.
That’s what I did with SEO Hacker. I started with SEO then spread out to social media marketing, email marketing, analytics, CRO, etc.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d buy a domain name, 1gb of hosting and start writing. No need for a good designer or for any fancy internet marketing tools. Feedburner or Mailchimp can work since it’s a new blog and I have only $100 to boot.
I guess in the end, I’ll use it for Stumbleupon ads just to be able to spend it (as your question requires). I’ll link out to all the authorities in the niche I’m trying to target and then get some traffic so I’ll get noticed by them. I’ll start tweeting them too – and work my way to publishing a guest post or two in their website.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
The best way to get in touch with me is through Twitter @SEO_Hacker or via LinkedIn. A quick email from my personal blog will also do.
Thanks again Sean 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.