It's great to hear from bloggers than run a successful full-time online business. I recently interviewed Marc Andre of Profit Blitz and Photography Planet to find out how he became a successful owner of two online businesses.
Hi, Mark, please introduce yourself to the Successful Blogging Team.
Sure, Sue. I've been working online full-time for almost 6 years now. And part-time before that, it was about probably one and a half years, working part-time prior to create my full-time online career. My blog, profitblitz.com, is on marketing and blogging. Right now, that’s a part-time project. Most of my time I spend doing my photography blog.
Oh, wow. That keeps you busy. I can’t even imagine doing two blogs.
Yeah, it’s busy but it all works out.
Terrific. Well, tell us where you live.
I live in Pennsylvania, a small town in South Central Pennsylvania. I was in New Jersey for a while before then.
So, what do you do for fun?
I like sports. I don’t play as much that I used to but I like watching football and I like to travel. I like photography. I have a 2 year-old daughter so I spend a lot of time with her when I’m not working.
Oh, that’s a busy age! So, tell us more about Profit Blitz, your blog on internet marketing.
Well, I started that site earlier this year. I’ve been working online full-time for about 5 years. And I decided to write about the things that I've learned, the things that I’ve been doing in other industries. And I just thought it would be a nice way to document some of the things that I've learned and to keep up on new things.
I really like Profit Blitz. Recently, you did a roundup post where you asked me for a tip. And then included it with 26 other bloggers. How does blogging outreach like that work for you?
So, a lot of the bloggers that were included in that roundup were people I've had some communication with before, whether it’s been through blog comments or through emails – and even some people I don’t know. I figured I’d just send an email. And if I got a response, great.
So, I got a pretty good response. I think I sent out 30 emails and I got most to respond. Then, once I published it, I just emailed everyone to let them that it’s published. And most of these bloggers wound up sharing it through their social profile. And so it brought in some traffic. The best thing. in my opinion was that, from a networking perspective, it helped to strengthen my connections with other bloggers.
Oh, definitely. It’s a wonderful way to build connections with other people. And you do it very well.
It gives you a good excuse to reach out to people who you never had any communication with for that first communication.
Right, because you’re just asking for a small tip, a small favor. And even if they ignore it or if you have to give them a little nudge by email later on, that’s a really nice way to contact someone. Do me a favor and tell me more about your successes with blogging, whether from Profit Blitz or your photography blog. What are some of the best things that have happened to you from blogging?
Blogging has been the background of my whole online business. I’ve done other things, like membership sites and affiliate marketing and selling digital products. But, for the most part, it all started with blogging and I still use blogging to promote products, the membership sites and to build that affiliate revenue. So, everything goes back to blogging.
I really got started by accident. Back in 2007, when I started my first blog, I didn't really even know what a blog was. I wound up installing WordPress on a site as just as an easier way to manage static articles I had, static HTML pages.
I thought the blog would make it a bit easier to manage. And so, I didn't really know much about blogging at the time. I actually tried installing a few different blogging platforms and WordPress was the easiest one to work with. So, I ended up sticking with WordPress. I had no real idea what I was doing. I didn't know how to drive traffic or use social media or anything.
So, when I started to implement some of the things that I was reading about. And I went from like 10 visitors one day to over 2000 the next. It was from the social media of the time, like Digg. And then, that kind of got me hooked. Obviously, it was short-term traffic that faded off after a day or two. And at that point, I was thinking, okay, I know I can do this. And so I basically just followed the same process as I had done before, continuing to increase the traffic. Adding new content to the site while still working at it part-time, working evenings and weekends for 6 months. I got the traffic up to over a hundred thousand a month and it kept going from there. Honestly, it was easier back then than it is now.
But that’s how I got started. Then I started doing some freelance blogging. And that’s what helped me to get to the point where I could leave my full-time job. And my blog and my traffic were growing, but it wasn't yet making a lot of money.
And I would have to replace my full-time income. So, I was able to make some money by doing freelancing for several different blogs. As my income from my own blog grew, I did away with some of the freelancing. And that particular blog I was working on, I sold last year. So, I had it for about I guess about 6 years.
That was terrific. And, as you know, freelancing is a wonderful way to make some money while your blog community is growing.
I was just going to say, I recommend it to a lot of people because it’s not something that you have to do forever and it’s not something that personally I would want to do forever! Because if you do it a lot, it does kind of drain you, writing all day every day. It’s a great way to make money – the amount of money that you can make per hour is actually pretty good, if you get the right gigs.
And if you were able to find some blog where you can work and do an article a week or do an article a month and then you all can spend all your other time looking for the next job, it’s really a good situation.
Yes, because advertising your services takes up time. So, you have done this since 2007 – blogging. You now have some really good blogging habits. What smart habits, do you think, should newer bloggers start with?
I think there’s four things that really stand out to me. The first one is consistent effort. Even before I had that kind of break-through with traffic, I was really sporadic with blogging. I’d work for a few hours here and there but then I wouldn't do anything for a week or couple of weeks and it doesn't work that way.
Of the people I’ve come in contact with – that’s a lot of people for the last 6, 7 years. And the number one thing I've seen, just from the people who I know, if you want to talk about separating the people who have success from the people who wound up quitting, it is consistent effort.
The second thing I think is having a long-term approach and realistic expectations, because blogging takes time. You know, there have been some people who grow a successful blog really quickly but these people are rare.
Most blogs take time and I see a lot of people have high hopes and high expectations and they don't realize they are already on the right track. They don’t feel like they are because they’re not making money yet. They're growing their audience and doing the right things. Then they wind up giving up just because they have not seen results. But if you have a long-term approach, if you’re willing to put in work for, 6 months or maybe even a year before you really start to make the money from it, then I think you’ll be in a better position. You need to have patience to make it, to have that success.
The third thing I think is really important is to have a consistent focus on networking. You know, you hear a lot and, rightly so, about content being so important for bloggers. And, obviously your content is important, but in my opinion, creating a network is just as important. In some cases, it’s more important than the content. You know, there are so many ways that having a network that can help you.
And I think it’s important to take a proactive approach to networking. There’s a lot of different things you can do whether it’s commenting on other blogs, sharing a post on social media, communicating through social media, being on Triberr or even just emailing out of the blue and interviewing people. There’s just a lot of different things you can do to build your networks.
And then the last thing that I would say is to prioritize building an email list. I think this has been one of the mistakes I made early on was when I was just starting out. There really were no bloggers building a separate email list. The most any blog would have had was a FeedBurner email subscription. It’s really an RSS subscription.
And you know, everyone was saying that RSS was superior to email. You didn’t have to deal with spam filters and all that stuff. And then, you know, a few years later everything shifted. And I think Darren Rowse is probably the first blogger that I remember to really have an email list. And I remember thinking like, what’s the point?
So, it took me a little while to jump on the bandwagon. But, especially in the last few years with all the changes that Google has made through algorithms, there’s a lot of sites that have just lost tons of traffic overnight and it’s really out of your control. I mean if you do something shady and you get a penalty from Google, I could understand that. But there’s a lot of sites that haven’t really done anything wrong. And just because an algorithm changed, they lost traffic and revenue overnight.
So I think one of the best things you can do to is to have your own email list, which you can use to get traffic back to your site and to promote your own products and to promote affiliate products. It's the best way to stay in touch with your readers. So, I think these four habits stand out for me.
So, now we talked about the good habits, what bad habits do you see among beginning bloggers or even more advanced bloggers?
The first thing that came to mind is – and this is actually something I struggled with myself – is jumping from one thing to another. There are so many ways to go about getting traffic to your site or for publishing content. If you follow a number of blogs or are on their email lists, you’re going to be getting different tips and products for sale every day in your email. Different types of articles, different link building tactics, different ways to make money. You’re getting different ideas every day and it’s really easy to just kind of jump from one thing to another.
The problem with that is you don’t stick with anything long enough to really see it through. And the truth is, there are so many ways you can do it and most of the things that you read, most of the approaches that you read about online, actually can work if you have the patience to do them and to stick with it.
It's a fine line like for someone like me that’s been doing it for several years. I always want to be learning new things – but I want to devote the majority of my time to the things that I know work and to continuing the plan that I have put in place to build my site. So, it’s a fine line. Still wanting to keep learning, still wanting to stay on top of things. But you don’t want to jump from one thing to another and abandon the things that you’ve been working on.
That’s really good advice.
So, another habit I think that I feel I was obsessing over early on was traffic. Like what I mentioned earlier, one of the things that really got me hooked was when I had a burst of traffic from social media. So, for the first several years, and even as I was blogging full-time and making decent income, I still put a bit too much emphasis on traffic.
And in reality, unless you’re selling ad space from a number of impressions, just getting traffic really isn't doing anything for you. Of course, it’s great to have traffic and everybody wants more traffic but when I shifted my focus away from traffic and more on optimizing my site in terms of using that traffic that I had more effectively, I really saw a significant growth in terms of revenue and profit.
And two other bad habits? One would be comparing yourself to somebody else. Blogging isn't like a traditional business where other people are your direct competition. Just because someone else is doing well, that doesn't hurt your chance of doing well and that can actually help you if it’s someone within your network, someone you’re connected to.
I see a lot of new bloggers comparing themselves to people who have done it for years. Instead of comparing yourself to others, you really should just focus on constant improvement for yourself. As long as you’re moving forward and going in the right direction, don’t worry about what other people are doing.
So that is a really good point. What’s your last idea on bad habits for bloggers?
The last thing is feeling forced to follow a certain posting frequency. Beginning bloggers struggle with this at first. I know I did. Sometimes I'd just publish a post just because it was time to do another post. Unless you’re in a certain industry, like a celebrity gossip blog, you don't have to post every day.
Single author bloggers can't compete with bloggers that are publishing that kind of volume. Those websites have many writers and you just have yourself.
You don’t need to publish every day. With Profit Blitz, I publish once a week. I’m sure publishing more frequently will help you get traffic up a little. But your quality is going to be better and you can focus on other things like networking and social media and motivation when your publish less frequently.
You have to decide what posting schedule works best for you. And don’t feel like you need to change it because other bloggers are publishing every day or three times a week or once a week or whatever – you just need to figure out what works best for your situation.
I totally agree. I always recommend that when people start their blog that once a week is plenty and to spend the rest of your time doing a guest post, some social media, and optimizing your content. Is there anything else you want to share with us? How can we get in touch with you?
The best way would be through Profit Blitz.com. That’s where I publish once a week. And I have a contact form for anybody who wants to get in touch plus my social media profiles on the site.
On behalf of the Successful Blogging team and myself, thanks for your time, Marc.
You’re welcome, Sue. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.