Shawn Collins is a legend in affiliate marketing. He started AffiliateTip.com in February 2004 focusing on affiliate marketing and is the co-founder of the Affiliate Summit, the annual affiliate marketing conference held each year which features the biggest names in the industry. Shawn is a pioneer in the industry working on several projects including GeekCast.fm, a weekly podcast show and Co-Editor of Feedfront Magazine. I’m excited that I had the pleasure to ask Shawn some tough questions and he provided awesome insight into blogging.
Now, let’s get into the real in-depth questions…
Q1 – How long you have been blogging? (Possible Year)
A little more than 10 years – I started in February 2004.
Q2 – What blog or site is your main source of income? So, what is the main focus of that blog?
Q3 – How much do you make online (average) from your blog a month?
Sorry, I don’t share my financial information
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?
I tried to chase trends and hot topics, and I found that it was hard to stick with those sites, because I just didn’t care about the subject of them. I did far better when I focused on sites covering topics and issues that interested me.
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?
Become an expert on a topic you enjoy and set up a form to answer questions about it. Either you can answer them off the top of your head or do some research, but you will have quality content by posting these questions and answers. I got into this process in detail at http://www.extramoneyanswer.com/ – the site goes through the steps I take to create affiliate content sites.
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.
I wish I discovered WordPress earlier, and I would suggest any blogger solely focus on that as a platform. I struggled for too long with Movable Type in the early days, and while there are many alternate platforms now, none are as well supported as WordPress.
Also, set up Google Alerts for keywords related to your blog, as well as contacting key companies in the industry where you are focused and ask them to send news to you. This is a great source of content, as you can share the news and add your input on it.
Finally, write for people, not search engines. The best way to grow your blog is to solve problems for people. Make your blog useful and easy to read.
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?
In my opinion, the most effective way to monetize is through text links with relevant products and services. So, if I am writing about domain registrars, I will link to GoDaddy, since that is who I use. Recommend products and services you like and stand behind, and your audience will trust you.
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 have a handy way to cheat for this – with Affiliate Summit, we poll the industry on their favorite blogs and then we compile a list. I use that as my list of the most relevant blogs for affiliate marketing: http://www.affiliatesummit.com/best-blogs-affiliate-marketing-2013/
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 would caution bloggers from using too many plugins, but rather to limit them to those you really think you need. You don’t want a social sharing plugin that displays 10 places to share when your audience isn’t using most of them. My favorites are Pretty Link for shortening links and WordPress SEO to optimize the site. Also, leverage the blog to build a list. My personal favorite is AWeber.
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 haven’t really seen a notable shift – just that it is more accessible now, so it’s more difficult to break through the clutter. But the key there is to consistently produce useful, original content.
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 don’t think it’s necessary to try to establish a brand. Let it happen organically by helping people. You can’t force a positive impression on people. It has to be earned.
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?
My favorites are Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples, Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, and Getting Things Done by David Allen.
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?
If your’e not writing quality content, you should shut down your blog. I’ve posted fresh content each and every day for many years.
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 don’t use link building techniques. I just create my content and make it easy to share.
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?
Like I mentioned earlier, ExtraMoneyAnswer.com is a guide for creating sites, and that’s totally free. Also, I am co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, which is available for free via feedfront.com. And we have posted hundreds of hours of videos from Affiliate Summit on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/affiliatesummit
The only thing I’m actively selling is the Affiliate Summit conference, which offers a lot of education and networking for bloggers.
Q16 – How can we get a hold of you: Please include email, social network profiles and Others.
That Concludes Our Interview…
Thank you very much Richard 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