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Meet John Hunter of CuriousCat.com

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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?

John Hunter of Curious CatMy 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.

After a few months I decided I liked it and launched self hosted blogs using WordPress: Curious Cat Management Improvement blog and Curious Cat Science and Engineering blog.

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 babyOrangutan 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.

Curious CatScreenshot 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?

John Hunter web site
My newest blog: Curious Cat Travel Destinations Blog
Twitter: @curiouscat_com
YouTube: Curious Cat Travel
John Hunter online (Google+, Reddit, Trip Advisor, Wikimedia…)

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.

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Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Meet Karen D’Avino of KarenDavino.com

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Blogging is one of the most exciting ways to create content on the internet and engage with others around the world at the same time. In addition to creating your own content and building your own little spot on the internet, blogging can be quite a resourceful tool for educators, teachers, schools, and even principles or superintendents. As always, when profiling new bloggers and experts in our Meet the Bloggers series, we are looking to cater to all niche markets and areas of the internet.

With all of this in mind, today we have an exciting guest — Karen D’Avino, who is the superintendent of schools and has taken her expertise and talent for this industry to the internet while helping to provide others with the necessary resources and tools to further improve their schools as well.

1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?

My name is Karen D’Avino. I am an educator with over twenty years of experience in the New Jersey public schools. I most recently served as Superintendent of Schools in the Barnegat Township School District. As an educator always looking to remain abreast of current practices and striving for academic excellence for students and staff, I became engaged with educators online. I was selected to become part of the Compelled Tribe based on my contributions to education.

2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?

The focus of my blog is on educational improvement. My administrative career has been dedicated to the improvement of schools, education, and both student and teacher performance. The subjects on my blog range from dealing with adversity to behavior management skills.

3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?

While many other websites and blogs like to post advertisements on their site, I’m simply trying to create a platform where I can provide the best resources and tools possible. Through my personal blog at KarenDavino.com, you will find that my content is dedicated to in district support where parties interested can contact me for consulting work.

4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?

I began using the blogging portion of WordPress before I created my own webpage. My page is also on Word Press but I wish I knew more about building web pages prior to blogging. I also know more about SEO’s and how online searches work. I wish I knew more about that before I began blogging.

5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?

http://www.thecompellededucator.com/
https://allysonapsey.com/
https://fouroclockfaculty.com/

6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?

Most times I use blogging to provide educational support for a variety of challenges that may occur in schools. Through blogging, I have been able to address many topics of concern for teachers but mostly for administrators. I have addressed various funding challenges that school administrators might find in the day to day operations of schools. I have blogged about teaching and learning strategies to implement in the classroom and I have blogged about working with challenging students.

7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?

Blogging is something I just kind of fell into, but also something that has been quite beneficial and amazing in the process. My best advice for anyone looking to start a blog of their own, is to focus on their passion and see how they can provide value to others. Through my blog I have been able to share some great stories, my expertise, and also help others who are in the same educational environment as I am.

8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?

Creating content can be a challenge if you do not focus on a few topics. The internet has lots of information and deciding what your niche is will be important to gain and retain constant readers. I would also recommend that anyone in the education space focus some time on connecting with others in education and teacher forums or social groups online. With so many teachers already online, there are some amazing resources available when you put in the time and effort to find and connect with others.

9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?

I would research the content areas in education where there is a need for information and focus my energies on creating a blog, supportive website, and possible member services. Anyone can get started with a blog of their own, even if they are a teacher or working with a small budget. If you have the time and money, I would invest in a domain, hosting, and maybe a custom logo design or WordPress them to stand out from the crowd.

10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?

My blog can be found at http://karendavino.com/
You can also see one of my latest radio interviews here.
Also feel free to follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thanks again Karen D’Avino 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.

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Meet Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch.com and Docsketch.com

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Many entrepreneurs have dipped their toes into blogging but not many have gone far. A lot of factors may have played in failure. Perhaps the lack of courage, determination, persistence? There are also instances wherein a venture is progressing but suddenly plateaus in growth. This is often the result of complacency. Successful business owners can attest that facing challenges head-on have led them to great accomplishments and the total lack thereof can do more harm than good.

For Ruben Gamez, he didn’t even have to wait for the challenge to come. He got into blogging by getting out of his comfort zone and challenging himself. Today, he continues to excel as an entrepreneur by constantly finding ways on how to improve his tactic. Learn more about Ruben in this week’s episode of Meet the Bloggers.

1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?

Ruben Gamez

I started blogging as a marketing experiment and to prove to myself that I would be able to sell my first product. At the time I was working a full time job and had an idea for a software product, but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to bring in enough traffic to make the idea viable.

By this point I had read enough about marketing to realize that blogging was a great way to bring in qualified traffic. I quickly did some keyword research and found a topic that I could write on, and published a post (one week later).

The goal was to see if I could actually bring in traffic, and how long it would take for that traffic to start coming in. After two weeks I started getting traffic to that post (through Google)! I was hooked on content marketing at that point.

2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?

Initially we started with a very narrow focus of writing about proposals for designers. That’s because at the time, our product was very niche and that was our target audience.

For example, one of the better performing posts we had at the time, was literally titled “How to Write a Web Design Proposal,” which still performs well for us. As you can imagine, there’s only so much of that type of content you can write for a specific niche.

I quickly realized that it was too narrow and eventually expanded to blogging about helping freelancers, agencies, and consultants land more clients.

We went in this direction after talking to enough customers and seeing what interests they had, and what type of content they liked.

3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?

We have an online software product called Docsketch. So the main way that we monetize our blog is by converting a portion of readers into customers.

It tends to be a longer process because instead of pushing visitors directly into a trial of our product, we work to get them into a drip campaign. From there we can better educate them and build trust. Eventually, some people give Docsketch a try and become customers.

4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?

Great question. I wish I knew enough to focus on the right type of content, and not pick topics by guessing what would appeal to our audience. Nowadays, we’re a lot better about picking our topics.

For example, one approach, is to start by focusing on a larger category and growing that through individual pieces of content. We’re actually doing that right now, with a “contract templates” section on our site: https://www.docsketch.com/contract-templates/

Based on researching what our target customer is looking for, we are expanding that page with individual pieces of content that can also bring in traffic (like a specific type of contract template). This helps in that you can slowly build authority in a very large category, and the individual contract templates will inherit that authority.

Another approach we take is using tools like Hotjar to run microsurveys so we can ask visitors that aren’t on our email list, what we should write about. We even do phone interviews with some of these visitors (and offer them an Amazon gift card for 15 minutes of their time).

5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?

Well, I’ll give two blogs because I’m having a tough time thinking of three.

My current favorites:

  1. The Sumo.com blog which focuses on growth stories (so good):
  2. The James Clear blog which focuses on personal improvement through fitness, psychology, and more.

6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?

  1. Hotjar for microsurveys, visitor recordings, etc
  2. Sumo.com for email collection of all types
  3. Moz for traffic, keywords, and more

7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?

Look at the top five blogs that you love to read, and deconstruct them. Work backwards. Why do you like them so much?

Don’t look at the specifics of how they’re doing things (images, content length, etc.), instead look at how their positioning hooks you, or how their topic choice gets you coming back. Look at the high level things that make a big difference.

From there, spend some time brainstorming how you can use some of what you’ve learned on your own blog. Then, spend lots of time researching, writing, and promoting 🙂

8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?

I think the best advice I’ve heard (and that I still try to internalize) came from Derek Halpern. Spend 20% of your time writing, and 80% promoting. That doesn’t mean write for 30 minutes and promote a weak piece of content. That means, that whatever time it takes to write a very high quality piece of content, spend 4x that long promoting it.

One interesting side effect is that you start looking at whether the topics you’re writing about are worth that type of promotion time.

9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?

I’d use part of it on Sumo.com tool to help me collect leads, the rest on hosting. After that, it’s really just my time on research, writing, and promoting.

The most valuable things that need to be done on a blog don’t cost money. They do involve you investing some time doing them though.

10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?

My personal twitter and our product.

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Meet Daniel Cowen-Rivers of TravelWeekli.com

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Blogging can lead you to many opportunities. All established bloggers now have been through the phase of being a new comers. They have experimented one way or another along the process. Trying different things out does help in determining your own style and strategy.

We’ve interviewed bloggers covering various niches in Meet the Bloggers. For this episode, we’d like to introduce Daniel Cowen-Rivers. He’s a budding travel blogger. Read on to know more about his journey across the globe and a

1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?

Daniel Cowen-Rivers

I am a budding travel blogger who travels the world and shares my experiences and travel expertise via social media and through my blog. I got into blogging as I wanted to share my traveling tips and photos with others to make them travel more before global warming destroys the world.

2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?

I chose traveling to share my love of seeing the world and different country’s way of living. I also wanted more people to find out about the world we live in.

3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?

AdSense. I have a few paid ads but not that many as I am still new to the game. I’ve started blogging since February of 2017.

4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?

I did not know about DA and SEO that I know now is very important in order to get sponsored post.

5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?

The blogs are:

  1. Backpack With Me
  2. Bradley Bow
  3. Hand Luggage Only

6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?

The three services that I recommended using to help your blog are:

  1. Yoast  A blog in called SEO by Yoast. This makes optimizing my blog post easier to rank higher on Google search.
  2. OneNote – I’m constantly making notes for future articles. As I always have random moments where I’m going by my day and I just randomly have an idea for a blog article. I always carry my phone to write the note in OneNote.
  3. MailMunch is a plugin for WordPress that comes with email subscription templates that you can place in certain parts of your blog and I made mine as a popup.

7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?

Pick a niche category that you want your blog to be about. As well as this, one of the most important advice I have is one that you need to know when starting out, is how to improve your SEO and DA.

8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?

Just keep blogging! After a few months, I only got a few readers per day and I’ve thought to quit then. However, I’ve read that it takes people years to get enough readers to be a full time blogger. Just keep blogging and don’t stop.

9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?

I would use the money to gain more Facebook likes on my Facebook page that in turn will convert readers for my blog. This will be done by advertising the page and blog on Facebook.

10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?

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