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Meet the Bloggers

Meet Chris Makara of ChrisMakara.com and Bulk.ly

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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?

I currently have two websites that I blog on, my personal site and Bulkly.

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?

You can usually find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, my site, or Bulkly.

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.

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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 the Bloggers

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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Blogging

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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Blogger

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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