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Interview with Six Figure Blogger Pat Flynn Available for ProBlogger Newsletter Subscribers

pat-flynnA couple of weeks ago I hooked up on Skype with a great blogger by the name of Pat Flynn who has a fantastic story to share.

Pat was working as an architect and was about to get married – life was good – but unexpectedly he was laid off from his job and was left wondering what to do.

It turns out that getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to Pat – he took a small blog about an architectural exam (the LEED exam) that he’d been using to help himself study for the exam and turned it into a six figure income generation machine.

He launched an E-Book off the back of his blog and in its first month he made $8000. That was just the beginning though – in his first year of business the site generated over $200,000!

You can check out Pat’s blog at Green Exam Academy and his newer site at Smart Passive Income.

My chat with Pat was both inspiring and informative and today I’m sharing it with those who have subscribed to the ProBlogger Newsletter and will be adding it as a free bonus to anyone who subscribes in future.

Sign up below to get access to our weekly newsletter and this free Podcast with Pat Flynn.

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Lesson from ReadWriteWeb: An Interview with Richard MacManus

readwriteweb_logo.jpgOne of my new years resolutions in 2010 is to interview one blogger per week as a podcast. I’ll post most of these for members of the community at ProBlogger.com but from time to time will share some of them here on ProBlogger.net for all to hear.

Yesterday morning I had the privileged of speaking with Richard MacManus – Founder and Editor of the successful ReadWriteWeb blog.

Richard started ReadWriteWeb back in 2003 and has since grown it into one of the world’s largest blogs in terms of traffic, subscribers and most importantly influence. Richard has also taken RWW from a single author blog into one with at least 13 writers.

In this 45 minute audio podcast Richard shares the story of RWW and its beginnings, talks about the transition to a multi-author blog, shares some tips for new bloggers, talks openly about how RWW is monetized (including through advertising, publishing premium reports and running events) and looks forward at the future of publishing.

The interview also briefly features my 18 month old son who decided that Richard was someone he really wanted to speak with :-)

Richard’s one of the most thoughtful and insightful bloggers I’ve interacted with and has built a blog that reflects this. He majors on being constructive, insightful and useful and this podcast reflects that.

You can listen to this 45 minute podcast here or right click and save it to listen to it at your leisure.

While you listen be sure to surf over to ReadWriteWeb and follow Richard on Twitter and Facebook.

PS: apologies if there is an initial slowness in downloading but as you’d expect, there will be a bit of action on this podcast in the first little while after this post goes live.

Leo Babauta from Zen Habits Shares a Popular Post Case Study

Leo-Babauta-Case-StudyThis week I’m featuring a short series of interviews with successful bloggers looking at a popular post on their blog and why they think it went viral. Today Leo Babauta from Zen Habits has agreed to dissect the popularity of one of his site’s most popular posts.

1. What is the post on your blog that has had the most traffic in the last 12 months?

I would never have guessed this until I looked it up in Analytics, but the top post in the last year is “10 Tasty, Easy and Healthy Breakfast Ideas“.

2. Where did the traffic mainly come from?

The page had nearly 500K pageviews in the last year, almost all from Google searches. A small amount came from Yahoo (#2), direct traffic, MSN, and other search engines.

3. Did you do anything extra to market or promote this post or did it just happen organically?

No, I didn’t promote this post any more than other posts. It did well in delicious.com the first day, without my help, and quickly found its way to the #1 spot in Google searches for “healthy breakfasts” and related search terms. I don’t do SEO at all (I don’t believe in it), so this happened totally organically.

4. What can we as bloggers learn from the success of this post?

Google can bring tons of traffic, but the way to get there is not through SEO or overly promotional techniques. It’s by creating useful content that people will want to bookmark, link to, and find in searches, solving problems that many people have.

So:

  1. Figure out what problems a lot of people have.
  2. Create really useful content to solve those problems.
  3. Write a good headline to help the post get spread more widely.

Duncan Riley of The Inquisitr Shares a Popular Post Case Study

This week I’m featuring a short series of interviews with successful bloggers looking at a popular post on their blog and why they think it went viral. Today Duncan Riley from The Inquisitr has agreed to dissect the popularity of one of his site’s most popular posts.

Screen shot 2009-09-10 at 1.30.40 PM.png What is the post on your blog that has had the most traffic in the last 12 months?

Is American Idol’s Adam Lambert Gay? Is there really any question? (656,254 page views)

Where did the traffic mainly come from?

Approx 85% came from Google. Interestingly after that was AOL and direct (as opposed to Yahoo or a social site)

Did you do anything extra to market or promote this post or did it just happen organically?

Initially it was organic. We’d picked up in the semi-finals of American Idol that there was this great singer, and people were asking whether he was gay or not. We led with the question people were asking, a tactic I know other sites advocate, but we don’t do that often, because it doesn’t always make for a good solid headline.

First day traffic was 611 page views, then 10,164…then it bubbled along: 1,000 one day, 2,000 the next, with a couple of 10,000 days as well.

It wasn’t huge for us on a daily sense for over 2 months, but it kept appearing in our stats. We did follow up posts (none which did the same level of page views, but some around the 50,000 to 100,000 page view mark) and we kept linking back to the original post each time. Two months later, and Adam Lambert was heading towards the final of American Idol, and more people kept asking the question. 2 months and 1 week after the post went up, it did a 107,834 day; we were the top result in Google for “Is Adam Lambert gay.”

The success was a combination of two things: timing and link strategy. We were early, if not the first site of size to write about the topic. After that, we not only linked back ourselves, but the post received a good number of external links as well (being first helped a lot), pushing us to the top of Google

What can we as bloggers learn from the success of this post?

1. Timing isn’t everything, but there is still strong opportunities for first to market. If you can offer a post that contains information (or commentary) that is unique, first (or close to first), and topical, that post can sometimes become a big post for you.

2. Sometimes long term pays A lot of what we do is short term when it comes to news, but some stories can wag not only for days, but weeks and (as in this case) months. Marque content has the ability to provide for you over a longer period; our post here didn’t start that way, but it had longevity.

For example this post I wrote back in June; it’s done just over 55,000 page views as I write this, but every day it gets page views, one day 500, next 1000, then 150 etc, and I have every reason to believe that in 3 months time it will probably still be wagging along and will eventually pass 100,000 pageviews. Not spectacular I know, but likewise if you’ve got a sizeable number of posts doing the same thing, they all add up.

It doesn’t matter what the vertical: both my examples here are entertainment related, but it could be just as easily be applied to a good advice post, or internet marketing post, or more. You need look no further that bloggers who post about WordPress templates and plugins for example to know that a good post can wag for not only months, but sometimes years.

Vitaly Friedman of Smashing Magazine Shares a Popular Post Case Study

This week I’m featuring a short series of interviews with successful bloggers looking at a popular post on their blog and why they think it went viral. Today Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine has agreed to dissect the popularity of one of their most popular posts.

popular-post-smashing-magazine.png1. What is the post on your blog that has had the most traffic in the last 12 months?

The most popular post in our magazine was the article “Adobe Photoshop Tutorials – Best Of” which was published in October 2008. It is one of the many tutorials round-ups that we’ve done then. Overall, the post has now almost a 1,000,000 unique visits.

2. Where did the traffic mainly come from?

Most traffic came from Google, followed by social media, in particular via StumbleUpon, Twitter, Digg and Reddit (in this order). Since we are paying a huge amount of attention and time investment into preparing well-researched, high-quality posts, it is very likely that stories published on SM are going fairly well in social media. After all, almost every story needs over 25 hours to be completed. Another reason for our popularity in social media is the simple fact that we don’t post too often – at most 2 articles per day appear on Smashing Magazine.

About a couple of months after the post was published the organic traffic via Google etc. started to catch up, so at the moment we (on average) have much more traffic from search engines than from social media. All the social media together are still only a small portion of the traffic coming from Google.

3. Did you do anything extra to market or promote this post or did it just happen organically?

We never push a story hard to reach some critical mass of diggs, votes or tweets. The post did well, because many designers found it useful and bookmarked it or recommended it. That’s the basis and the requirements for a good, successful, popular post.

4. What can we as bloggers learn from the success of this post?

The quality of the content defines the nature of post’s popularity over months and years. The more time you invest into preparing a post, the more quality it will deliver to the reader and the more appreciative your readers will be. The latter will deliver your blog organic growth, traffic and solid readership. That’s as simple as that. Deliver quality and you’ll be rewarded with good reputation and good traffic.

5. I notice you’ve got a book coming out soon – how did it come to be? Got any tips for aspiring bloggers wanting to do a book?

Yes, we are currently in the final stage of publishing our “Smashing Book” – a printed book about best practices in modern Web design and development. Books are still valuable, because they are more solid and permanent compared to bits and bytes. The idea to create a book came because we wanted to explore how we can strengthen Smashing branding in further traditional media. We decided to create the community book, a book that is based upon ideas and suggestions of our readers, involving them in basically every step of the process.

Publishing a book is easy these days is easy – with digital printing and numerous layout applications one can create an e-book in hours. The process is also fast and relatively cheap. But this is not what we decided to do. The Smashing Book is printed the traditional way. We aim to the masses. This is possible because we have a huge audience and we are selling to them directly, bypassing common bookstores and shops. To do this we need plenty of money to pay for paper, layout and printing. But there is a traditional solution to go around this, the pre-sale phase. We have started the pre-sale to gather money and estimate the circulation (yes, it’s a secret). In exchange for customer’s trust, we are offering a big discount of 20%.

Since we wanted everybody to be able to afford the Smashing Book, we have decided to introduce something that we call “social shipping”. The idea here is that we offer customers from US and Germany free shipping, but since shipping costs are extremely high to some parts of the world, they can voluntarily pay more for the shipping of their copy. And, of course, selling around the world needs some serious logistics. There are literally tons to move. An e-book would be more much more comfortable, but we hope that our readers will appreciate our efforts to create a physical piece that can be put on the shelf. The printed Smashing Book will appear in the end of this year.

Check out the Smashing Magazin upcoming book (it is available for pre-order) here.

Interview with Blogs.mu founder James Farmer

blogs.mu.pngEarlier today I posted about a fantastic new service by the name of Blogs.mu – a service that enables you to set up your own blog network. Now I’d like to post a quick interview with James Farmer – co founder of Incsub, the team behind Blogs.mu and the company that runs the WordPress MU hub WPMU DEV and the industry news blog WPMU.org. He’s also the founder of Edublogs.org. He (like me) is based in Melbourne, Australia.

He caught up with me over email last week to talk about Incsub’s brand new offering: Blogs.mu.

So what’s the difference between, say, Blogs.mu and WordPress.com?

jamesfarmer.jpg

Well, the main difference is that at Blogs.mu you become the blog provider, and you have a huge amount of flexibility and functionality that you just won’t get anywhere else.

It’s like WordPress.com in a box really, only better! Once you’re up and running you can create and host as many blogs as you want, at your own domain.

You’ve been able to do this for a while using WordPress MU but that’s been pretty hard as you need to setup hosting, run installation, download and configure themes and plugins etc.

Now though, we do that all for you… and you are free to grow your blog network or community in whatever niche you like – and, of course, run your own advertising!

It’s white label blog networks if you will… kinda like Ning.com for blogging.

So, you say users can run their own advertising, how does that work?

Blogs.mu Supporters (starting from 5 cents per blog per month) can run their own advertising across the entire network just by dropping in any ad code – it’s simple and very effective (or at least we like to think that!)

Every blog theme has 4 ad ‘spots’: under the post title and above the content, under the content and above the comments and at the top of each sidebar – as well as across a footer slot, for running JS contextual ads like Kontera or similar.

And you can set display rules for your ads too – like ‘only show them to IE browsers’ or ‘only show them to search engine visitors’ so you can make money like WordPress.com too… without annoying your users.

So what’s with the MU, are you big in Mauritius?

Heh, very funny, the MU actually stands for MultiUser – as in WordPress MU – also known as WPMU. We love the platform and have been on it from the start – one our WPMU Sites (Edublogs) is older than WordPress.com by 3 weeks… so we know what we’re doing.

And yeh, we did the obvious as well and setup WP.MU too – it’s an installation service for people who do want to get down and dirty with the guts of it all.

So we hope we’re covering every base!

And how do you think Problogger readers could best use Blogs.mu?

Well, I’m hoping there are a heap of ways that established and aspiring probloggers could use Blogs.mu. First up, if you’ve got an active community then this is a great way to get them writing in your space (you could even configure your site to a subdomain of your existing site!)

Another way would be that it’s a really affordable and powerful way to run your own 10 or so blog network.

Either way there are tons of advertising opportunities – and we’re looking into incorporating eCommerce, membership subscriptions, ‘pay to blog’ features and more pretty shortly.

Also, we’ve got some forums up and running for existing and prospective users (it’s completely free to join) at forums.blogs.mu so if any of your readers would like us to consider or build in specific features – we’d love to hear from them!

Check out Blogs.mu for yourself.

An Interview (with Me) on Getting ‘Fast Traffic’ to a Blog

A couple of weeks back I was sent these questions as part of an interview that someone wanted to do in the writing of a book.

In the end the person doing the interview couldn’t use it – so I’ve decided that rather than waste the significant time I put into responding that I’d post the answers here.

The focus of the interview seemed to be going down the route of getting ‘fast traffic’ to a blog. You’ll see this theme coming up numerous times in the questions and probably sense a little of my frustration with the idea in my answers. I hope you find the interview useful.

1. Please introduce yourself to our readers…

My name is Darren Rowse, I live in Melbourne Australia with my wife ‘V’ and two boys (aged 6 months and 2 and a half). I’ve been blogging for a little over 6 years. It started completely as a hobby but gradually grew into a part time and then full time job (and then beyond). I’ve written a book on blogging (called ProBlogger), am the cofounder of the b5media blog network and over the years have started around 30 blogs (although only concentrate on 3 today). I’m also a keen photographer and love to read.

2. What blogs do you own, which one is your favorite, and why did you start it?

I personally own and edit three blogs today – ProBlogger (a blog about blogging), Digital Photography School (a blog to help digital camera owners get the most from their cameras) and TwiTip (my most recent blog – a blog focusing upon Twitter Tips).

I enjoy each blog for different reasons but I guess if I had to give up two and keep one the one I’d keep would be ProBlogger – simply because it is the oldest of the three (although not the biggest – DPS is gets more traffic) and one that I’ve put most time and effort into over the years.

I started ProBlogger simply because it was a blog I wanted to read myself. I was experimenting with making blogging a business but no one else was writing about that at the time – so I thought I’d start it and journal what I was learning.

3. what is the number one thing you learned about blogging that has impacted your bottom line, that thing that makes the difference between succeeding and failing in this business?

There are so many things and to isolate one is difficult (and perhaps not that helpful as great blogs are built upon many factors and rarely just one thing).

However if I had to choose one thing it’d be that successful blogs are ‘useful’ blogs in one way or another.

Blogs need to meet a need or solve a problem that potential readers have. The need might seem frivilous (the need to be entertained for example) or it could be a need for information, community, news etc.

Meet a need and you give people a reason to subscribe to your blog and to pass it on to others. Create a blog that doesn’t really prove useful in any way and you’re unlikely to build a successful blog.

4. If you have to bring instant visitors to your blog in the next 30 minutes, what steps will you follow?

If you’re expecting big traffic quickly you’re asking the wrong guy. My strategy has always been to write content that people will want to read now – but also for years to come. Some call this ‘evergreen’ content and it takes time to write. It might not bring traffic quickly but if you write something that is still relevant in a year or more you’ll continue to draw traffic to it.

I’m sorry if that doesn’t answer your question but to be honest there’s a lot of bloggers looking for quick traffic and quick money and a lot of people promising to teach them how to get it – but that’s not my experience of blogging.

Take a long term view, build something that matters and you’ll build a blog that grows in traffic over the long haul.

5. Most bloggers like to get passive traffic… What are the one time actions we can do which will keep on bringing traffic without any effort after that?

Once again I’m afraid my answer could disappoint…. I’m not really someone who has found too many actions that will bring traffic (or income) without any effort after you do them.

The only real exception to that is to write brilliant content. When you do this it has the potential to bring traffic to your blog (via search engines) for years to come. This in turn can lead to ongoing income.

Other than that I’ve not really found too much about blogging that is ‘passive’. It’s a lot of work over the long haul.

6. What’s your most effective traffic generating strategy which works every time for you and gives the best return in terms of traffic regarding to your time spent?

Outside of writing useful and high quality content (am I sounding like a broken record yet) I’d say it is engaging in social media communities. For me one of these has been Twitter (for others it’ll be sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, MySpace, Facebook etc). These social networking and social bookmarking sites have the potential to spread word of your site or posts on it virally through the network and beyond.

It takes a lot of time to build up these networks to the point that they are effective at driving a lot of traffic. Start building your networks now.

7. What are your top 3 traffic sources and how exactly do you attract traffic from each of those sources?

  • Google – write good content, build relationships with other bloggers and website owners in the hope that they’ll link to you, learn basic search engine optimization techniques and stick at it for the long haul.
  • 2. Direct Traffic – this traffic is largely from readers who subscribe to my blogs via RSS or newsletters. The key with this is to convert first time readers to your blog into loyal readers by interacting with them, displaying subscription methods prominently, calling readers to action and building anticipation in visitors to your blog that you’ll write something that they’ll not want to miss in future.
  • 3. Social Media – this is about building your network over time, writing the type of content that goes well in these networks (research what types of stories go viral on these sites) and making connections with others on the networks.

8. Let’s say you lose your name, contacts and everything. You have to start from scratch as a “nobody”. What will you do then for the next 30 days so that your blog will start getting 1000 unique visitors each and every day?

I’m not sure it’ll make 1000 visitors a day within 30 days the way I’d do it but I’d probably spend time investing into

  • writing great content
  • offering to guest post on other blogs (linking back to my own blog)
  • networking on social media sites
  • and even investing a little money into advertising on sites like Facebook and StumbleUpon (where you can advertise fairly cheaply).

Other than that I’d be wanting to take a longer term view than 30 days and concentrate on building a useful blog with lots of content over time.

9. What else would you like to share, something that our readers can immediately apply to their blogs and see results fast?

Forget the word ‘fast’.

Really – forget it.

You can probably use some techniques to get fast traffic but a more profitable strategy over the long haul is to build a blog that people become loyal to and proud to belong to over the long haul. Do this and they’ll pass on word of your blog to others for you and in the long haul you’ll see bigger growth.

In my experience – the only times I’ve had ‘fast traffic’ to my blog is once a blog has been going for significant time and after I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into it. While the traffic might come in fast – the reality is that it was only as a result of a lot of hard work in building the foundations of the blog.

Interview with Top 100 Blogger – Daniel Scocco

daniel3.jpgI always love it when I see bloggers extending their online businesses beyond their actual blogs to make money ‘because’ of their blog rather than just from it through advertising. One such blogger who has stepped out and done this in the last week is Daniel Scocco who has this week launched his Online Profits course that was released earlier in the week (see my announcement post).

I’ve always been impressed with Daniel and how he approaches his online business (I’ve had him as a guest post many times here on ProBlogger) and so wanted to do a short interview with him to find out more about the course and how he came to put it together.

How has the response been to the release of Online Profits?

The response was good. It was above my expectations, especially because I opted for a very clean and fact-based sales page.

We had close to 50 registered members at the end of the first day. My initial aim was to get 100 members on the site within the first week, because that is a good number of people to work with. I am sure we will cross that mark by Friday.

Getting mentioned on Problogger was paramount to that success though. In fact after reading your post I was twice as motivated to put a lot of hard work into the training program, making it worth for all the people that will follow your recommendation.

What’s been the #1 (or 2) question or concern that people have expressed about it and what’s your answer been?

The main question that people had was: “Why should I join the training program if there is so many freely available information around the web?”

I won’t deny that there is a lot of good and free information on the Internet. Problogger is perhaps the best example around. I started reading it back in 2006, and it certainly made a big difference on my “blogging career.”

Sometimes, however, people don’t have the time or the skills to find, organize and interpret all that free information and to transform it into a structured learning environment and into action plans.

That is where ebooks, books and training programs come into play. For example, back in 2006 when I started learning about SEO, instead of going around looking for bits of information here and there, I purchased the SEO Book from Aaron wall and read through it. The time that it saved me was well worth the money I spent for it, and I was also secure that the information was reliable.

Secondly, when you purchase an educational product or join a training program, you will be more motivated to act instead of just learn. You paid for the information after all, so you better do something with it! You will also be in a situation where you are encouraged to take action, both from the fellow members and from the mentors.

Another question that was asked frequently was: “Will I have access immediately to all the training modules?”

The answer is no. For this first launch we opted to make the training modules available gradually, so you will inevitably need to wait to access the advanced ones. The reason for this structure is to not overload the members with all the information at the same time (which is a recipe for making people not apply the knowledge that they will gain).

Over the last year there have been quite a few courses released that have had similar subjects to Online Profits – what’s different about this one?

Yes there are many eBooks and courses that teach Internet marketing. Most people that write about Internet marketing or “making money online,” however, do not earn that much. That is why I made an effort to bring credible names to this project.

I wanted the lessons to be written by people that have experience with real projects.

Additionally, I also think that Online Profits is unique in terms of content broadness. There are good training programs out there if you just want to learn SEO (SEO Book), if you want to learn how to make money blogging (Blog Mastermind) and so on.

For the people that want to get a complete understanding of Internet marketing (e.g., from setting up a website to optizing WordPress, from PPC to affiliate and email marketing), however, Online Profits could be more suitable.

The thing that I love about what you’ve pulled together is that you’ve managed to draw together a fairly amazing group of people. How did you get them all to agree to participate?

First of all I only approached people whose work I respect, and I explained my plan to them: to create an Internet Marketing training program that will be credible and worth for the members.

In other words, I wanted to create something that would add value to the Internet, and not simply to generate some quick bucks for the rest of us.

I believe that was the main motivator for them to join, even because most of those guys already make some killer money online, and financial benefits don’t speak to them.

What you’ve done with Online Profits is to leverage your current blog and profile to launch this course. Many bloggers aspire to do this – what advice do you have for them?

First of all you need to give before you ask. Before launching the training program I worked on my blog for 2 years, published over 1,000 posts, and attracted over 16,000 RSS readers (over 30,000 if you count all my blogs).

Secondly, I have also done all that with a genuine interest in helping other people, not expecting anything in return. When I started Daily Blog Tips, my only goal was to share the tips and tricks that I learned with previous blogs and websites. Period.

I guess if I had started my projects with the sole goal of making money people would have noticed it, and perhaps they would be less inclined to read what I had to share with them.

What’s your best tip for bloggers starting out today?

Let me try to summarize it in one sentence: create something you will be proud of.

Practically speaking, create value for other people, publish unique and useful content, network with fellow bloggers, give before you ask, and have fun along the way!

Check out the Online Profits course – it’s 50% off until the end of the week!

Interview with Jack Humphrey

This morning I got on the phone with internet marketer Jack Humphrey as part of his webside chats series of interviews. It was an enjoyable 45 minutes which you can listen into here:

Jack also has some other great interviews in his series – check them out here.