Paul Shapiro is a search marketer and takes, both, a technical and creative approach to SEO. The focus of his blogging is to provide digital marketing, SEO, and Social Media; Specifically, Social-SEO, Technical SEO, and data analysis. He can teach you a lot often writing about digital marketing in new and exciting ways, discussing ideas and concepts that people haven’t addressed before.
Now, let’s get into the real in-depth questions…
Q1 – How long you have been blogging? (Possible Year)
I’ve been blogging since my senior year of college. My current blog dates back to March 2012 which should be pretty close to my start date.
Q2 – What blog or site is your main source of income? What is the main focus of that blog?
I do not treat blogging as a source of income, at least not directly. I use my blog to build my credibility and authority online which leads to advancement in my career and often results in business leads. It’s a great way of doing things.
That blog is Search Wilderness: http://searchwilderness.com/
Q3 – How much do you make online (average) from your blog a month?
Again, I don’t treat my blog as a DIRECT source of revenue. I could probably tie a number to it, but I don’t think it would be that valuable of an activity.
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 hurdle in starting a blog, is just that, starting. My biggest advice for overcoming it is to write anything. Pick a topic, any topic, even if the topic isn’t great, and write. Don’t worry about setting you’re blog up perfectly or writing the best blog post ever. You just need to write something to get over that initial hurdle. Once you write, put it up on a basic blog installation and move on from there. I’ve learned from my own experience and with advising others, that once you’ve written that first post, it all becomes SO MUCH easier. You overcome a mental block. It’s all psychological.
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?
To be honest, I never suffer from writers block, and that’s because I keep an “always generate content ideas mindset”. I’m always taking the world around me and applying it to content ideas.
I keep a board on Trello to keep track of ideas and organize my thoughts. Trello is probably my greatest asset in this department.
Here’s how I organize my boards:
When I come up with an idea, I automatically dump it into “Ideas”. Sometimes later down the road, I decide the idea isn’t great and move it into “Scrapped”. Sometimes I decide the idea is awesome and move it into “Good”.
Once I write about an idea, I move it into “Done”. It helps to never get rid of ideas, to keep your idea list ever flowing, and to constantly assess the quality of your ideas.
Another thing I like to do is use my newsletter to assess my ideas. I feel like there is less pressure writing a newsletter compared to a formal blog post, so I write my ideas in my newsletter. When I get a lot of positive feedback, sometimes I will flesh it out into a blog post.
If this isn’t how your brain works, you can approach content ideation with Brian Dean’s Skyscraper technique. It’s a solid methodology.
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.
Things I know now, and wish I knew from day 1:
- It’s worth building your newsletter from day 1. I didn’t understand the channel properly and felt it wasn’t in-line with my overall blog goals. I was wrong. Email is extremely effective and a highly engaged channel. It’s worth investing in a newsletter even if your sole purpose is to engage with your existing readership base.
- Writing for the web isn’t the same as writing a college essay. When I first started blogging, I approached writing the same way I did in college. People don’t like to read blogs written in the style. I changed my style, to a much more informal one, and my audience ate it up—my readership grew. I was worried that I was appearing less educated, when in fact I wasn’t. People just consume content differently than they used to.
- Writing isn’t as time consuming as I originally thought. It used to take me a long time to write a blog post, but then I changed to a more efficient workflow, writing in a less formal style. Now, I’m writing more than I ever did, and spending less time. And you know what? My content is performing better than ever before too.
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?
I do not treat blogging as a source of income, at least not directly. I use my blog to build my credibility and authority online which leads to advancement in my career and often results in business leads. It’s a great way of doing things—thinking of blogging as an indirect source of income.
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 read voraciously. I used an RSS reader daily and read 100s of blogs. I still do to this day. It’s important to carve out sometime to read. It’s how you learn in this space.
Here’s my OPML file, an export from my Feedly account, including all of the blog I follow myself:
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?
In terms of SEO plugins, the only one you need is Yoast.
I highly recommend you get involved in the Triberr community.
Install SumoMe to help build your email list! It’s fast, easy, and free.
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).
The only real shit in blogging that I’ve observed, is that it doesn’t pay to spam. You need to put the time and effort in to blog correctly. No more creating 100s of long tail keyword variations for a single subject, no more thin content, no more crap. It’s also important that you don’t rely on any single source of traffic, and diversify your marketing portfolio. It helps boost your overall traffic and helps prevent any losses that will render your blog unrecoverable. Invest in Search? Yes. Invest in Social Media? Yes. Invest in more than one Social Network? Yes? Invest in Email. Yes. You get the idea…
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 constantly hustle myself, my brand online. It’s benefited my life and my career immensely. You should be doing it, and it’s probably my #1 piece of advice to recent college (or soon to be) college graduates.
Fairly recently, I moved away from marketing my name. I used to have my blog on paulnshapiro.com but moved it to SearchWilderness.com to represent a brand that is bigger than just myself and my name. It’s helped significantly.
For the most part though, building an online brand, just means being present online, ever-present.
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?
I got into marketing from a psychology background, so Robert Cialdini’s Influence lands high on my list.
Ogilvy On Advertising, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and Made To Stick by Chip And Dan Heath would also make my list.
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?
High quality content makes all the difference. Your goal should be to create awesome content, not frequent content.
I advise others to write when they have good ideas and not force writing, because that content usually ends up inferior.
Write when you have something to say!
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.
I’m a professional SEO and can go on and on and on and on and on and on…
My current favorite link building tactic:
Find journalists on Google+ and drop them into circles according to publication. Publish relevant content and click the email journalist box:
Another tactic which I often use… it’s kind of cliché but it works…finding unlinked mentions and asking for links:
I get a lot of people who mention “Search Wilderness” or my name without link. People are receptive when you ask. It works.
You should also subscribe to HARO. Spend 10-minutes a day responding to HARO requests and you’ll pick up links.
Q15 – In my eyes, you’ve been a pioneer in creating some of the best products, content and are a true blogging success story. Can you name some of the products that you’ve created which can help bloggers out? How can they be purchased?
Q16 – How can we get a hold of you: Please include email, social network profiles and Others
I make myself very accessible online.
That concludes our interview…
Thank you very much Brian 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