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Meet the Bloggers

Meet Andrew Lowen of NextLevelWeb.com

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The business of blogging is now more important and bigger than ever. With Google indexing more web sites and content daily, not only is it more effective than ever to create original blog content to rank more often, it’s also a requirement. With more than a billion active sites online creating content, it’s no longer about ‘just creating content’, it’s about ‘creating the best content’ possible.

For businesses and brands that are blogging, this is simply one of the best ways to reach new audiences, while also establishing yourself as an expert or trusted source in the process. In today’s Meet the Blogger interview, we are highlighting the business and blogging success of Andrew Lowen, who uses blogging to grow his online business and SEO marketing services.

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

Andrew Lowen

It all started back when I was trying to find my place in the world after college. I picked up web design alongside working toward a Firefighting career, and one fateful day one of my clients asked me to “optimize their website.” They paid me $50/mo for TWO websites, which was the single most awful SEO deal I have ever agreed upon. But it got me started. Fast forward seven years later, and I own a small business-focused digital marketing agency. Blogging is an essential part of getting SEO results for clients, and so it was of paramount importance to become good at it.

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

We blog for many clients, but our company blog is based on helping small business owners spend their money wisely on digital marketing services. It’s so common for SMBs to get robbed by sketchy freelancers and SEO marketing or website design companies, and we put out information to equip them with the information they need to make wise choices.

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

We monetize our blogging efforts in a few ways – we rank each blog for desirable keywords that being in the right traffic to our site, and small business owners request consultations. In addition, our blog is a major tool of acquiring back links to our website. High-quality back links add more weight and authority to what your website says, and as a direct result of writing great blogs that get quality links, the phone rings with people looking for advice or to purchase services! And lastly, our blogs have really helped prospective clients to trust us as the authority in our niche. If a client calls us about a particular service, we have many resources that we can leave in their hands for further research, including our blogs. Our honesty in our blogs have proven to earn more than just a prospective visitor’s trust — it also helps to earn their business!

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

Blogging every day or every week is pointless if you’re not focusing on delivering useful information to your audience, optimizing your page titles, writing the appropriate amount of content (2,000+ words nowadays), or editing so that your visitors can easily scan through your blogs (because nobody reads from start to finish). Beyond this, a blog post is almost pointless if you are not working to promote your content! If you write it, you must also have a strategy to get it in front of people. Your content may be excellent, but if nobody knows it exists, then you are “spinning your wheels” for nothing.

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

Does Facebook count? We actually find a great many blogs through groups on Facebook! This proves my point that I made earlier: You need to be promoting your content. People are not as loyal to a brand nowadays as they once were if you are not promoting through social channels.

Second, I keep up on industry news from sites like backlinko.com, niksto.com, reddit.com, and a few others.

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

First, I highly recommend using a social sharing plugin for your blogs. A colleague recommended using Social Warfare for WordPress once upon a time, and I have never looked back! People will share 10x more often if you make it easy – the ability to click one button and immediately share to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, etc. takes the thinking (and debating) out of the equation.

Second, you really need to use a decent keyword research tool. Since we are Google Partners with a significant amount of PPC [that] spend on Google AdWords, we get the best version of Google’s Keyword tool (the one that shows near-exact search volume). There really isn’t a better tool than this to use, but since most bloggers won’t be spending $10k+/mo with Google, the free tool is very lame, and we’d recommend SEMRush.

Third, you really need a tool to assist you with outreach and content promotion. We use Buzzstream to keep track of our outreach to bloggers as well as to gather blogs and blogger contact info. It really streamlines a labor-intensive process to get your info out there!

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

In addition to my advice in #4, don’t start with a heavy WordPress theme. Start with a light and simple theme that doesn’t have too many frills. You can always add more later, but the worst thing you can do is get distracted with the frills of your blog and avoid focusing on what makes you money: creating content!

A second piece of advice here is this: Do not be afraid to “curate” content (aka – take a successful blog post and restate it in your own words). Constantly producing new, innovative content is really tough to maintain over time, but there is a near-unlimited supply of content that you can source from the internet! Don’t be afraid to do just that. People need to read on the same subject 7 different times from 7 different authors to finally “get it.” So go curate and rank in the top 7 for legitimate traffic 🙂

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

I’m not kidding in any way when I say: The best way to make money blogging is by blogging. This is clearly more than common sense for most people. People love to talk about working hard, they love to read blogs about blogging (Looking at YOU, reader), and they love to take coffee breaks before they write a word on the keyboard.

Lock yourself in a room and write a gosh darn blog. JUST. DO. IT. NOW. (Or after reading #9 and 10 below)

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

If you’re going to do this, you probably work a part-time or full-time job. Blogging usually starts out as a side-gig, and your job is where you’ll come up with the $100, right?

Spend the first $90 on a simple WordPress theme (~$20-30), an easy install (Free – $30) and a few months of hosting ($30), and a social sharing plugin (Social Warfare is $29 paid, and can also be free). Plan on upgrading your hosting later (don’t pre-pay for a year), and don’t fret too much about buying a domain name that makes everyone think about how creative you are. Spend your last $10 to buy energy drinks so you can pump tons of hours into developing great content right from the start. And spend your remaining time engaging with influencers or on community forums related to your niche building a presence and connecting with the community (before you promote the crud out of your content… people will out you quick if you don’t learn the rules and earn some respect first).

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

You can always find our content at NextLevelWeb.com/blog or connect with us on Twitter at @NxtLvlWeb. We’re on Facebook and all that, but if you want to get in touch, there’s no better way than reaching out here!

Thanks again Andrew 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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