Today, I am starting a new interview series. My aim is to present to you on a weekly basis different bloggers that will share with us what struggles did they faced in their blogging journey and also how they managed to succeed online. Today, our first guest is Vinil Ramdev. Vinil runs his own business called CEO Hangout, a networking organization that conducts events, networking opportunities, and provides resources for CEOs and business owners.
Welcome to my blog, Vinil. Tell us how do you introduce your profession to your friends and family?
Very nice question! A lot of my family and friends have no idea about my profession. It’s true. Am I a blogger, marketer, consultant, or writer? I am a bit of all. But when I introduce myself, I introduce myself as an online marketer. Because if I look at myself, I am always promoting. No matter how good a writer you are, if you don’t promote yourself, nobody will read your articles.
There are some writers who write for other people, like freelance writing or copywriting for companies. I do a bit of freelance writing when I get the opportunity, but I am eventually writing for my blog, guest posts, and even emailing interviews. All this is part of marketing. In a nutshell, I am a marketer. To be more specific, I am a content marketer.
Most people don’t understand what content marketing is all about. If you say lawyer, doctor, engineer … people get it. But online marketer, not many understand.
How did you choose this niche?
I chose my niche based on my knowledge and skill. I believe everybody is an expert at something or the other. A high school kid might say, “Hey, what can I be an expert in? All I did was skip classes, get drunk, and chase women.” Well, if that’s all he did. He could be an expert with women. Guess, how many men need advice on dating and relationships. He could be a dating coach.
There are some who can cook very well. They can be an expert in that.
It’s important to do something that you are passionate about. You find your passion by pursuing hobbies. Your hobby can become a profession if you can figure out a way to make money out of it.
Just ask yourself, what is it that I am an expert in? There must be something. Or ask yourself, what you are most passionate about and want to learn for the rest of your life? The answer to that question will give you clues.
Do you have one main site or do you manage several blogs?
I used to manage three blogs. However, right now, my focus is on one specific blog. I want to make that blog self-sustaining, meaning I want to build a team that manages that blog without me. I then want to build the other two blogs and maybe sell them off if I get a good price.
I also have a few clients who I help with marketing. I am presently helping this site StarOfService get more traffic to their website.
On which niches do your sites focus on? How do you share your time and focus between them?
I believe bloggers should focus on one website at a time. Managing just one website itself is extremely time-consuming. In fact, managing three sites is like a train wreck. Just imagine your marketing efforts – they are three times more. Everything you do is x3. This can cause overload in the long term.
Blogging is extremely time-consuming and very demanding. You are not just writing for your own blog; but you are also doing a lot of guest blogging, building relationships with other bloggers, and also building your marketing. In the initial days, you are also doing freelance work to cover up your costs. I think bloggers should do freelance work not just for the money, but you tend to learn a lot. It’s nice interacting with new people, and learning new things.
A blogger should start multiple sites only after one of them becomes profitable. Only after that should he build a second one.
What mistakes did you make when you first started blogging?
The #1 mistake has to be starting multiple websites at the same time. When I first started, I had several websites. I don’t remember how many but I had quite a few websites. That was a complete overdose. Initially, you’ll be energetic, but the biggest challenge is to sustain those efforts for long periods of time. You can’t do that with multiple websites. I suggest starting one website and being consistent with it.
When I first started, I tried too many things. Initially, while you are getting your feet wet, it might be ok. But eventually, you need to focus on a few things and be consistent with it. I know websites that don’t do any social media marketing, they only focus on guest blogging and SEO, and they have more traffic than websites with massive investment. We all tend to get attracted by shiny objects, at this moment, that shiny object is social media.
I’m not saying not to use social media. Social media is a great platform, but it needs to be used wisely.
What tips would you recommend for beginners to help them avoid similar situations?
#1 Start with one blog. Find a niche that you are passionate about.
#2 Stick to it for the long term. It can take over two years of consistent effort for your blog to take off. So be patient and stick to it.
#3 Don’t be in a hurry to quit your job. Some businesses take more time, effort, and longer to catch some traction. So be patient.
#4 Get into the habit of blogging every day. You may not post your article on your website on a daily basis, but you should be guest posting. Remember, you should either be guest posting or write for your own blog every day. Set aside fewer hours, in the beginning, to get into the habit, later you can scale up your efforts. But make sure you develop this habit right in the beginning.
How do you pick a topic for a new blog post?
Part of blogging is not just writing but also reading. If you are frequently reading, you will automatically come up with topics. Sometimes, a fellow blogger is written something you don’t agree with, so you write your blog post about that topic. Other times, you’ve attended a seminar or an event and want to write about something you’ve learned.
I also go on to Quora which is a social network in question and answer format, where people ask questions to pressing problems. Instead of just answering questions, you can write an article. This is a great place to find ideas for your topic.
Another way to get ideas for your blog posts is to ask your readers. Ask them what is their most pressing problem, write an article to solve their most pressing problems.
Keep reading and solving people’s problems, topics for blog posts will just keep coming and your readers too will stay connected.
What is your step by step process to optimize a new post to ensure you rank on search engines?
The first step is that you basically write a blog post without worrying about SEO.
Next, you do a keyword search on keyword planner to find high volume low competition keywords. I like keywords with search volume above 10,000 a month. Then you add this keyword on your heading, on an h2 tag, and the URL of your blog post. Yoast is a fabulous plugin. If you use WordPress, try using this plugin. It will tell you how well your post is optimized for SEO.
These are the basics that you do on page – the header, h2, url, and metadescription.
Besides on-page, your off page too matters. Here is where your connections matter. If you are connecting with influencers and other bloggers on Twitter. Try helping other bloggers by sharing their posts and even mentioning them in your own articles. When your blog is up, find other posts where your post can add additional information, and email this blogger with a link to your post saying that he could use some facts from your article to make his blog post more informative. This way, you are helping other bloggers and at the same time you are giving a push to your post.
#5 When things get tough. Just keep going. Sooner or later, you will find light at the end of the tunnel.
What free tools do you recommend that you think are essential for any blogger?
First of all, your blog should be on WordPress. I know people who use Joomla and Drupal. They might be great platforms but now WordPress has really evolved, and it has become quite robust. I think it’s a wonderful platform.
Some of the free and not-so-free tools I can think of are:
#1 SumoMe: It basically helps you with collecting subscribers.
#2 Use any of the most popular email marketing softwares. Make sure you are building a mailing list. Money is in the list. Not building a mailing list is a BIG MISTAKE. You can get a list of popular email softwares and a review of them on my blog post here.
#3 W3Cache – this can optimize images and can make your blog a bit faster. A faster blog helps you rank higher on search engines, and is also beneficial for your users who may not want to wait for your page to load.
These are just a few I can think of. But fewer the plugins the better. You don’t want too many plugins that may slow down your website.
How do you monetize your site(s)’ traffic? Do you use Adsense, affiliate marketing, coaching, eBooks, consultancy, or other services to generate income?
I like using a diverse range of revenue streams. That’s when I feel monetizing works. I don’t use Google Adsense at the moment; I try to sell direct ads instead. I don’t have much control over the kind of ads I can have with Adsense. However, you never know. I may test them out to see how they work. Part of monetizing is experimenting to see what works.
Right now, my focus is on affiliate marketing, live events, coaching, and ebooks. We may add some online courses into the mix at a later point when we can afford the technology.
These are the primary sources of income for most blogs. Initially, when you do not have your own product like an ebook or an online course, affiliate marketing and consulting might make more sense, because you can generate some revenue even with very little traffic.
Even a new blog should focus on revenue right from the beginning. If you are not focusing on revenue, then you should be building your mailing list.
Thank you for the time you have given us, Vinil! I think that one of the most important lessons we should learn from this interview is to not start our blogging career by building many sites at the same time. Focusing on one site and making it successful is the best way in which you can become an authority in your niche.
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