Loz James is a professional copywriter and content marketer with over 15 years’ experience. His blog, ContentChampion.com, was started in 2013 to provide content marketing strategies for small business owners and online entrepreneurs. Loz creates trustworthy and authoritative content that resonates with his readers, and has built something special allowing him to make a very healthy living from copywriting and content marketing each month.
Now, let’s get into the real in-depth questions…
Q1 – How long you have been blogging? (Possible Year)
I’ve been online since I started my copywriting and content marketing business in 1999, and I moved from a simple online portfolio to a ‘proper’ website a couple of years later. In total, this business and website in various forms has supported me and my family for almost 15 years.
Q2 – What blog or site is your main source of income? So, what is the main focus of that blog?
Through my copywriting site I’ve always built email and client lists to help secure retainer business, and used to run a dedicated newsletter, but my approach has evolved as the digital landscape has changed. In the last year, therefore, I’ve focused on building a high profile blog that supports my main copywriting business, which can be found at http://www.contentchampion.com and provides content marketing strategies for small businesses – mainly through my podcast and expert interviews.
Q3 – How much do you make online (average) from your blog a month?
I’d prefer not to give actual figures, but If you take my combined online business income, I make a very healthy living from my copywriting and content marketing business every month, so it definitely pays the bills.
Q4 – Starting out online can be very difficult and you’ll face many hurdles. What was the biggest challenge you faced when you started out? How did you overcome this hurdle and do you think if people are facing this problem today that they can still use the same strategy to overcome their challenge?
The biggest temptation when you’re starting out online is to try and do everything yourself. Whether this is building a website, writing content, setting up online sales systems or pitching clients, and then doing all your own customer service, work fulfillment and accounts – it never makes sense to spread yourself too thin.
For a business to be successful it needs to be scalable, and this won’t happen if you’re trying to do everything at once. As soon as I started delegating key tasks to other people, perhaps in areas that weren’t my strong points, was the time I started to make more money and see more success.
People can be precious about their ‘own business’ when they start out – but when you realize that no-one is an island – the sooner delegation can start to have a positive effect on your bottom line.
If I could go back and tell myself something else very important, it would be to start a mailing list. Many people think they have an online business if they have a website – but it’s a fact that most visitors will leave your website without buying anything or taking any action. So without an email list of targeted subscribers (or buyers), you really don’t have any saleable assets in your online business at all.
Q5 – These days it’s very hard to find things to write about and create new content? What would you say is the best strategy you have used to create awesome content? What would you recommend new bloggers do if they suffer from writers block?
If you’re a small business blogger (which most of my clients are), there’s no better strategy even in non-sexy niches than Marcus Sheridan’s ‘they ask, you answer’ approach. Every business gets asked a load of questions by their customers – whether face-to-face or online – so why not get every one of those questions and turn it into a blog post? This way, not only is your content extremely well targeted for your core audience, but over time this technique will also increase the amount of searchers finding your site organically through long-tail ‘question’ keywords.
Q6 – Experience and time does teach you many things. What do you wish you knew back then when starting out that you now know has helped your blog grow and become successful? If you can give us your Top 3-4 valuable lessons, that would be awesome.
My top four lessons would be:
- Build an email list and make this the core strategy in your online business
- Create content that is just incredible – and surprises, delights and educates your target audience
- Know who your audience is, where they hang out online and what sort of content would appeal to them before you do anything else – because without a strategy you’re flying blind
- Build a list – yes, it really is that important
Q7 – There are many ways to monetize your blog some which have worked and some haven’t. How are you making money through your blog? What other strategies would you recommend to monetize your blog?
At the moment I make all my money by selling copywriting and content marketing services. I’m currently developing a course in small business blogging though, and plan to offer exclusive one-on-one coaching sessions in the very near future. If any of your readers would like to get in on the early bird pricing for this, they can contact me through the blog.
If you’re just starting out online, I’d recommend building up your email subscriber base first before you start offering products or services. That way you have a good list of potential buyers in the pipeline and can quickly gain feedback on your stuff. As I say, I’ve been selling services for 15 years, and when I started it was nearly all face-to-face – now it’s 99% online based in terms of customer acquisition and interaction.
Q8 – I know when I started blogging there were a handful of blogs I read on a daily basis? Do you have any mentors or blogs that you read on a daily basis that provide you with knowledge and guidance when you need it from day-to-day?
I really admire a load of people in the content marketing space, including Joe Pulizzi, Pat Flynn, Jay Baer, Neil Patel, Jeff Bullas and Jeff Goins. However, the standout blogs I keep going back to are Brian Dean’s Backlinko.com, Richard Marriott’s Clambr.com, and for podcasts EntrepreneurOnFire.com from John Lee Dumas. John was on my very first podcast and has always been there to offer great advice. I sent him an email to wish him a happy Christmas last year, and despite being incredibly busy he fired back a personally recorded audio message wishing me good luck. It’s people like these who make the content marketing and IM community a better place.
Q9 – There are several tools & plugins that can help you build momentum when people are on your blog, for example, social share plugins, SEO plugins and many others. What plugins do you think are essential in growing your blog? What Tools & Plugins do you think every blogger should have on their site?
I use WordPress for everything so here’s my ‘must have’ list of WordPress plugins/products:
- Leadpages from Clay Collins – it’s just superb. I’m still getting 15% sign up rates from my LeadBoxes
- Every plugin/product that Shane Melaugh at IM Impact has made – he’s got great attention to detail and his products are superb
- Flare is a really elegant way of growing your social shares on individual posts and pages – and it’s free!
- I’ve just started using PostSkin from Glen Allsopp at ViperChill.com and it’s looking great so far – his blog is fantastic too by the way
- I must also mention the Dynamik Website builder from Eric Hamm at Cobalt Apps – it’s an awesome WordPress theme builder for the Genesis platform, and the support is fantastic too
- I’ve just realised that I should be mentioning Genesis by Studiopress as well – I couldn’t do without it
Q10 – Many people have often asked me about the shift in blogging from previous years (Negative or Positive). What is the main difference you have seen while blogging since you started? What do you think will be the change going forward and how can you save yourself from being effective from this change (Positive or Negative).
I’d always like to think I produce quality stuff (or am trying too), but the same facts apply now as they did years ago when it comes to content marketing, blogging and SEO. That is, if you research your target audience, develop a coherent strategy and produce & promote targeted content for them – you’ll be doing ok. That last part is important though, you’ve got to keep coming up with innovative ways to create and promote content – drive a specific action, then choose a specific metric(s) to measure so you can keep refining your conversion rates.
Q11 – I often hear bloggers talk about creating a brand online. What are your thoughts on creating a brand for yourself and what is the best way to brand yourself?
I think if you want to ‘sit at the top table’ when it comes to blogging or online business in general, you’ve got to create a brand around yourself or your company. Just as with offline business, the online landscape is more than ever about creating authority and trust – creating your own tribe and selling your personality and what you stand for. I know it’s hard work and can be time consuming, especially for small businesses with limited resources, but it’s fair to say if you don’t get on board with at least some blogging and basic content marketing to help get your name out there – you will simply get left behind.
To create an online brand cannot obviously be done overnight, and requires a lifetime commitment (in terms of the lifetime of that brand). You have to commit yourself to a long-term strategy and allocate the resources to make that process work – you can’t just dip in and out. The question and answer strategy mentioned above is a great place to start for most small businesses, just make sure you have done your audience/market research first and have a clearly defined strategy and measurable metrics in place from the outset – or before long you won’t know where you are with it all.
Q12 – Much of the knowledge & motivation I’ve picked up is through other blogs and reading books. We discussed your favorite blogs in my previous question, however would you recommend any books that motivated you during tough times or provided you more insight into creating a successful blog?
This is a great question as I did an extensive roundup post about content marketing books on my site at the end of last year. It’s got a load of great recommendations and you can find it here:
The last really superb content marketing book I read was just a couple of weeks ago, and is Jay Baer’s excellent ‘Youtility’. I’d recommend everyone has a look at that one, as it’s full of great insights and practical examples.
Q13 – How important is writing high quality content in blog success? How often do you publish fresh new content on your blog? Is it weekly or monthly?
I’d go so far as to say that online marketing is impossible without great content. Creating and promoting fantastic content is at the heart of content marketing and inbound marketing – so if you don’t like producing content in some form or other, you should try outsourcing or you’ll be really stuck. I try to publish four times a month, including podcasts, blog posts and the occasional guest post. I’d like to do more but I also blog for multiple private clients in my ‘day job’.
Q14 – What are the Top 3 most effective link building techniques that you would recommend over your years of experience? You can include ways to generate traffic to your blog.
This is easy, if you want to find dozens of creative and proven link building techniques that won’t get your site into trouble and will actually bring you targeted visitors – just visit Clambr.com and Backlinko.com. I’ve had great success with the expert roundup technique as endorsed by both these sites.
Q15 – How can we get a hold of you: Please include email, social network profiles and Others.
If you want to benefit from early bird pricing on my upcoming content marketing course and coaching program, just email me and I’ll add you to the advance notification list.
That Concludes Our Interview…
Thank you very much Loz for taking the time out of your busy schedule to provide us with your advice. I wish you nothing but success moving forward.
I hope that you enjoyed this addition of our interview series!
To learn more about other bloggers, visit our Bloggers Interview Series