Every blog has a story. Whether they were started as a side project, by mistake or just something that was thrown together for fun… each blog is special in it’s own way.
Some of the best blogs in the world are ones that started as one thing and ended up as another. That’s what’s amazing with blogging — anyone can start a blog and there are no rules that you must follow once you get started.
John Hunter kept trying to convince his work that they should get into the world of blogging, but he kept hitting the wall. Instead John took things into his own hands and started a blog of his own and never looked back.
Learn more about John and his series of blogs in this latest edition of Meet the Bloggers.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
My background is in improving performance of the organization (management improvement). From there I moved into software development as I had difficulty getting the IT departments to deliver what was needed and found it easier to just create it myself. Over time my official role moved into the software development department; while I also retained responsibilities for management improvement.
I actually got into blogging when I suggested my organization should create a blog for the benefit of the organization and repeated attempts to make that happen failed. I just decided to create my own blog. This was similar to how I had decided to just create my own software solutions – though in this case I did it outside of work.
At that time (2004) I had my Curious Cat Management Improvement website. I decided to start with a science and engineering blog (I worked for an engineering association) and one for management improvement. I wasn’t really sure I would have that much to say about science and engineering so I wanted to give both a try to see if blogging would be a good fit for me. I started on blogger to get a quick and easy feel for how it would go and if I wanted to continue.
As part of the launch of the self hosted blogs I also decided to also launch a 3rd blog: Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog. I have been active with those blogs for 10 years now. I also eventually convinced work to launch a blog, though it is dormant now.
I authored a book based on my management blog – Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability. I used Leanpub which does a good job of automatically converting your blog to a draft of a book. Then I had to do fairly heavy edits, but it was a great start. I discussed the process in a podcast with Leanpub.
2.) You author several blogs in different niche, why did you choose those niches?
I write about what interests me, that is how I decide. I have added numerous blogs for that same reason over the years. If I keep wanting to write posts that I don’t think fit in an existing blog and decide it is worth a new blog I create a new blog.
A couple that I started on topics that interested me had a duel motive; I was also motivated to see if they could bring in some cash. Years before I started my digital nomad lifestyle I was planning for that idea (or something similar) and so I was trying to build up some sources of income.
That experiment, to bring in cash from the blogs, hasn’t worked very well for me. A couple of web sites have done much better in bringing in money for me over the years. I just think that is how it worked for me not some innate difficulty in making money from blogs.
Over time the topics of those first 3 blogs, and one new one topic (travel), have remained the main topics that I have an interest in blogging about; still I have launched several new blogs in niches under those topics, and a couple outside them. The Curious Cat Blog Network has grown to 18 blogs. I would say about half are fairly active, over one post a month, and others are less active but still worthwhile (in my opinion).
Orangutan with baby at Semenggoh National Park, Borneo, Malaysia by John Hunter
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
Not very well. I use AdSense and Amazon and occasionally direct advertisers contact me. I don’t do any monetization on a majority of the blogs.
I think the experience and reputation may well provide benefits for a career that outweigh direct monetization (consulting, freelance work, being hired, giving seminars, etc.). I probably have benefited that way, but it is hard to measure what success is due to.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
The only thing I wish I knew that I can think of, I still don’t know: which is how to find someone to find direct advertising for me. Just waiting for people to contact me about advertising brings in the more money that other streams of revenue. I believe it has to be profitable to pay someone knowledgable to bring in more advertising. Marketing and seeking advertisers doesn’t interest me much. My attempts to find a service that finds advertisers has not worked and attempts to hire someone to find advertising for the blogs has also failed.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
I use Inoreader daily to manage my blog feeds and read lots of blogs; but I don’t have clear leaders or any individual blogs I visit daily.
Daily, I read: Reddit, HackerNews and Twitter.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
I use Inoreader to organize blog feeds, WordPress to power my blogs and Hootsuite to schedule tweets.
Screenshot of the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Write about what you are passionate about. Most blogs fizzle out fairly quickly. I think largely because people tried to write about something they don’t care about – or they just don’t really want to write. Finding out blogging isn’t for you is fine. But not giving yourself a fair chance to like it is a shame. And that often happens when someone picks a topic they are not passionate about.
Most success takes time, and more time than most people think. Prepare yourself for a marathon, don’t think you are going to do a great job for 2 months and be hugely successful (though if you have some other huge following you could – musician, comedian…).
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
The best advice is what I mentioned above; write about what you are passionate about. When you are passionate you are not only able but excited to learn about the topic and then share ideas that are worthwhile with your readers.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I would use to pay for hosting a WordPress blog on my own domain.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Thanks again to John 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.