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Meet Maxwell Ivey of TheBlindBlogger.net

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Public speaking is one of the biggest fears in the world today. Fear is, unfortunately, holding many of us back when it comes to accomplishing great things and experiencing the many opportunities that this life has to offer. Blogging is a perfect example of something anyone can do, but still — many people don’t want to put themselves out there, or there is some other underlying reason for not taking action.

If you ever needed some inspiration and reason to appreciate everything, Maxwell Ivey is known as “The Blind Blogger” and he will be sharing his story with you today in the latest installment of our Meet the Bloggers series. Maxwell has quite a story, so be sure to read through it all and then take action like never before!

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

Meet Maxwell IveyHello! My name is Maxwell Ivey, Max to my friends. I am a totally blind man who grew up in a family of carnival owners in Texas. After my father’s death, me and my brothers realized we wouldn’t be able to keep our small show going. Knowing that I needed to figure out what I was going to do next, I thought about trying my hand as an amusement equipment broker. I had helped my family buy and sell equipment for ourselves, so I thought I could turn that into a profession.

After starting my website Midwaymarketplace.com, people started telling me that if I was going to be online I needed to have a blog. Many of them couldn’t even tell me exactly why just that most online businesses had them. So, I looked into how a person starts a blog. Not too long after that, I wrote my first post. Then when I started my second website TheBlindBlogger.net to share the more personal experiences of being an entrepreneur who happens to be blind, I had a blog on that site from day one. My first post was called I think I’m ready to be an inspiration.

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

As mentioned above I have two blogs. I am much more active on The Blind Blogger. So, I’ll concern myself with it from here on out. The niche is personal development. I didn’t plan to be a self help blogger or author. I didn’t even used to think of myself as anything special. I certainly didn’t see myself as an inspiration. But friends pointed out that with all I was doing online, I was example to all those people who sleepwalk through their lives with no ambition or courage.

They said, “Max if anyone had an excuse to sit at home on their couch, eat junk food, and watch tv, its you”. They said it’s because you show up in your life that we are inspired and motivated. So, the focus of the blog is sharing those every day events that happen to all of us and the lessons that can be learned from them. You see lessons and teachers are all around us if we are just willing to open our hearts and minds to them.

I also write posts about past interviews both as the host and the guest. And I plan to write posts about future speaking events and other adventures that I think will motivate people to take action. I want to live up to the expectations of those people who so often say “If Max can do it, then what is my excuse?”.

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

I have written two books Leading You Out of the Darkness Into the Light: A Blind Man’s Inspirational Guide to Success and It’s Not the Cookie, It’s the Bag: An Easy to Follow Guide to Weight Loss Success. I’m working on my third book about my recent crazy solo trip to New York City during the holidays. I won the trip as part of being one of the 2016 Amtrak Writers in Residence.

I sell my books on Amazon, Create Space, etc., but I also sell them directly from my website using selz and gumroad. I do this because it means more cash money in my pocket. Instead of giving up thirty percent or more of the gross sales, I only give up five percent to pay pal for the payment processing part of the sale.

I have done so many interviews that people have asked me to teach them how to get booked on shows or they have asked me to do the work of getting them booked. I have created an online course and now offer an online media publicity service. I have priced this media service for those authors who are on the way up and who may have more passion than cash. I am also available for public speaking where I share my message of finding solutions instead of making excuses.

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

Well, there are so many things I wish I had known. You have to realize that when I started, I knew absolutely nothing about having an online business at all. I had to learn how to build a website, how to set prices, how to recruit clients, how to record videos, how to use social media networks, how to grow an email mailing list, and so much more.

One of my hardest lessons came when I decided to accept my role as an inspiration. I thought I needed a separate website because I didn’t feel like the carnival and amusement park folks would want to hear about my work as a author, coach, and speaker. I didn’t feel like those people needing motivation and inspiration would want to hear about the amusement equipment stuff.

My good friend Adrienne Smith, formerly the blog commenting super star, tried to talk me out of having two websites. I wish I had listened. I mean its a lot of work having one website and blog. Its even more work having two. One of them always has to suffer from lack of attention. It also means you have to have two pages on face book, linked in, google plus, twitter, etc.

I realized my mistake and for the most part do all my social media stuff under the name Maxwell Ivey. I’ve purchased the domain name www.maxwellivey.com and my plan is to combine everything under one website. But I’ll still have to have and maintain content for both of them. So, if you are considering additional websites, be really sure that you actually need more than one website, blog, email list, social media pages, etc.

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

Ryan Biddulph at Blogging From Paradise.

Lorraine Reguly, my friend and editor, runs WordingWell.com where she blogs about writing, editing, and promoting your work. Its also where you can find her books.

And while he doesn’t have a blog, my friend David Steele posts some amazingly upbeat poetry every day. He does this in spite of losing his vision. He is a major inspiration to me. You can find his work on his facebook page at fb.com/Steele75

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

The most important tool for me is a third party blogging app called MarsEdit. It is only available for macs, but I highly recommend that windows users try to find something similar. What it does is allow me to write and edit my posts without being connected to the net. It also helps me format the posts and insert the photos and video links. So, when you are traveling and don’t have a good internet connection; you can still create your posts for upload when you get the opportunity.

Second would be Facebook Messenger. This is because, to me, a key part of blogging success is building and maintaining relationships both online and off. So many people are on Facebook whether they want to be or not. Messenger allows me to have quick access to these friends. It also allows me to send voice or video messages as well as the opportunity to have face to face conversations using its video calling feature.

Another key ingredient to a successful blogging business is our email mailing lists. I firmly believe that your list is one of the few things you can truly own in today’s online business world. You can take it with you no matter what happens to your social media accounts. I use Mad Mimi. Now, I know there are services that offer more features; but there are few that I have found to be easier to use or more responsive to my specific problems that come from being a blind computer user and blogger. If I choose, they will even take my text document with links and create the email for me then sending it out from my account. They ask my advice about changes to their website. And they make a real effort to understand my needs. When I had trouble creating my signature, they went into my account and did it for me. They even went to my website at The Blind Blogger to find out what colors I use on my site. They then created a color scheme in my emails to match my website. They added the links to my top social media sites. Then they explained about how to create my auto reply message when people sign up to my list. When I ask them about problems, they will start by sending me a tutorial link. But if I am still having problems, they will walk me through it via email. You see, we don’t generally use products or services that are difficult to use. Having an email system that is so simple is a real blessing to me. I should also mention that Mad Mimi doesn’t offer an affiliate link. I make nothing by endorsing them.

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

I would tell them two things. First, write in your own voice. Don’t try to be anyone else. It’s easy to fall into the trap of emulating people who are successful, but this will not help you to stand out and be successful long term. Also, people are pretty good at recognizing fakes. They will quickly move on to someone who is authentic. Don’t be upset if it takes you a few posts or even a few months of them to find your own voice. My personal style is to write like I am writing to a close personal friend.

Second, be consistent. You don’t have to blog every day. You shouldn’t even want to blog more than once a day. I personally think once or twice a week is just right for most people. You want your readers to get used to getting a new post from you on a certain time and date to the point that they will miss it if they don’t hear from you then. I personally struggle with this one, but there is no doubt that it works.

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

I would say it’s to know who you are and what type of blogger you are. I was recently reminded about this when leaving for my trip to New York City. I was worried about taking photos and video while traveling. I wondered how this blind guy would handle it. I was also wondering if my two week trip would be enough for its own book. My friend Lorraine said, “Max you are not a travel blogger you are an inspirational, motivational, self help blogger”. She said as long as I remember that, I would end up with a great book. There are so many types and styles of blogs and bloggers. Always be true to yourself in this way.

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

I’m going to give you what sounds like an unusual maybe even wasteful way of spending this $100. I don’t know about people outside the United States and Canada, but here $100 is not a lot of money. There aren’t a lot of things you can really accomplish with it. To me, successful bloggers network. They go out of their way to meet people and to help them by writing great posts and offering value to their readers. So, I think I would spend it in taxis to and from Starbucks and coffee or cappuccino while there. I could sit down with my laptop and enjoy the people around me. I could say hello to people and do that thing where I turn strangers into friends. I could strike up conversations about writing, blogging, podcasting, working online, etc. I mean people are usually going to ask you what you are doing. If you tell them with pride I’m working on my first novel or I’m building my website, you will be surprised how many great people you will meet. Many will want to keep up with what you are doing and how much progress you are making. Some will even ask if there is some way they can help. It does take a positive outlook, a friendly smile, and a hug or a handshake. But being out in public meeting people face to face has lots of value in my mind.

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

They can visit my websites TheBlindBlogger.net or MidwayMarketplace.com.

They can find me on Twitter at @maxwellivey, Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/maxwellivey or Youtube at Youtube.com/maxwellivey

They are also welcome to send me an email to justask@theblindblogger.net.

I’m always happy to meet new people and make new friends! So please don’t think you have to have a good reason to contact or connect with me. I’m not one of those people who only talks to others if he knows a check will be forth coming. This is because there have been so many times when being willing to talk to someone without knowing how it would benefit me lead to a great opportunity.

Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed for your blog. I am honored to be included along with the many other top bloggers who have appeared on your site. To me, every opportunity to share my experiences with people is a treasure. I hope to spread my message of finding solutions instead of making excuses. I hope that like a lot of my other friends and fans you are now asking yourself if Max can do it then what is my excuse.

Thanks and take care,
Max Ivey

He is known around the world as The Blind Blogger, host of the What’s Your Excuse Show, founder of the Midway Marketplace, and so much more!

Thanks again to Maxwell Ivey 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 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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