Blogs can be used for a lot of things. One of the most common is to create content for a main website or business. For most site owners and brands, there is already a main website where most of the business already takes place. When it comes to creating original content or even a blog for the site, this is as simple as adding a new directory and a quick WordPress install.
The concept of blogging to further complement your main site is nothing new. It’s actually the basis for how Chris Makara currently uses blogs for his brand and business today. Learn more about his story and how to get the most out of your blogging efforts in this latest edition of Meet the Bloggers.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
I’ve been involved in websites since 2003 when I created an e-commerce site that sold bowling equipment while in college. While the site itself did not have a blog, it’s what got me started in my various website initiatives. I’ve created quite a few sites for myself over the years in addition to that one. Among them was a “Myspace” site for Ford Mustang enthusiasts back in 2006 which became very popular, really quick. I later sold it and moved into more client work after that in addition to my full-time day job.
Only years later did I start blogging on my personal website.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
My personal site, for the most part, focuses on hacks and strategies I use to be more efficient with various online tasks. I cover quite a bit on scraping hacks as well as analytics and data. The one thing I try to be conscious of is to try to write about something than many others aren’t. For me, I get tired of reading the same regurgitated, high-level posts that aren’t very actionable.
I know I am not alone.
So, while I don’t post often on it – but when I do I like to think it’s something worth reading and will leave the reader with actionable takeaways.
As for Bulkly, I do post a little more frequently on it. Bulkly is a new side project I am launching that will easily allow Buffer users to add never-ending, automated content to their various Buffer queues.
Therefore the focus is generally around various aspects of social media automation tips, tricks, and best practices.
I still try to take the same approach with Bulkly as my personal site in that I don’t necessarily want to cover topics that have been rehashed to death. But instead, provide insights and tips on how to get more out of your social media automation efforts.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
I don’t really attempt to do any direct monetizing on my personal blog. Instead, I utilize some of the posts as a way to have readers contact me for custom work. Most of the work will revolve around scrapers and data, while others will be around SEO/SEM and web design.
An example is a post I wrote about scraping Twitter with Excel. It’s an easy way to get data from various users. However, there are quite a few people who need specialized data from Twitter and I am able to help get it for them.
For Bulkly, the current blog traffic is used to get readers into my list for when the product is ready to be launched. I do this by offering various cheat sheets, checklists, scripts, and downloads to take further action on the blog post. Since the majority of Bulkly blog posts focus on social media automation – I know that users who subscribe will more than likely be interested in my product when it is ready.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
For me, the biggest thing is to provide something new and actionable for the reader. In my earlier blog posts, I was pretty hit or miss on what value my posts would deliver to the reader. I was falling in the trap of writing about what most others were already covering. There’s only so many ways you can write about the same high level topics everyone else is.
So that’s when I decided that I wanted to try to bring something new to the table.
I wanted to write about things I didn’t see others talking about – whether it was because it wasn’t common knowledge, or it was something others are afraid of.
For example, social media automation. Isn’t that completely against what social media is? Perhaps, in a way. But there are countless people that use some form of social media automation in their day to day activities. And I want to reach those people with my content.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
As mentioned earlier, I am not a fan of high-level, non-actionable content. So I don’t really visit any particular blog daily.
Instead, I have a handful of blogs I am subscribed to that I will definitely check out whenever they publish something new. I’d say my current 3 favorites are Brian Dean, Brian Harris, and Ryan Stewart.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
This is always a tough question with so many options – and believe me, I know how many social media tools there are. (Hint – there are over 600).
So, when it comes to what I use, here they are:
- Ahrefs – It’s the must have for any sort of keyword research, content exploration, rank tracking, and more.
- Bulkly – I’m a bit biased on this one since it is my own tool, but it allows me to create social media posts just once and recycle them again and again. Automatically. It’s the best way to leverage your evergreen blog content.
- Google Analytics – You can’t know whether you are successful or not without measuring. And Google Analytics helps with this. You’ll be able to see what is (or isn’t working), where users are coming from, and more.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
The biggest tip I can give is to not get bogged down in the details. For example, don’t worry if your design is not perfect or if your autoresponder sequence is not complete.
Chances are your first blog posts are going to more than likely suck.
I don’t say this to be mean.
But, if you have never wrote a post before it’s going to take a few tries to find your groove.
Not only that, but if you are blogging on a brand new site you’re not going to have much (if any traffic). So there’s not going to be a lot of people reading your posts.
With that said, you’ll eventually need to worry about all the details that truly go into your site.
But now isn’t the time to allow those from preventing you from publishing.
You’ll find out that your site will never be 100% complete/perfect.
The important thing is that you get started so you can find your voice.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
I’d say the best tip is not to blog just to blog – you need to have a goal in mind with each blog post. Whether it is to try to rank for particular keyword phrases or a post to offer up a content upgrade to increase your email list, you’ll need to know the purpose of the post before you write it.
If you’re publishing a post with no goal in mind, it’s not very strategic.
And without a goal, how can you measure the success of your blog post?
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
This is a great question. For me, I’d use it on hiring someone to do some outreach research. To me, this process is tedious and not something I enjoy doing. I’d much rather pay someone to find potential sites/people/contact info to pitch my content to in order to get more exposure through a link or mention, etc.
At the end of the day, a site will need links in order to rank for something. And very few people are going to come across a new site and think they should link to it on their own. So, by initiating the outreach/conversation yourself you make others aware of your content and attempt to land some links to it through the relationships you can build through outreach.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Thanks again to Chris Makara for taking the time to share his 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.