The Expert Blogger InterviewÂ is a brand new feature under the Write Right Series at BloggingPro. The feature aims to help readers learn valuable tips and advice from the best bloggers. We will feature at least one expert blogger who will answer a set of questions we sent him or her beforehand.
India has one of the best and most vibrant blogging communities in the world. One of the very best bloggers and online marketers not only in India but also the world is Uttoran Sen.
His knowledge in blogging and making money online is astounding. In fact, he earned a five-figure salary in 2007 while he was still studying in college!
Aside from being a prolific blogger, he is also the CEO and Co-Founder of GuestCrew, a product that helps promote your website or business.
Uttoran gave me the opportunity to pick his brain a bit more and learn about his other accomplishments with this interview.
What was the moment that made you decide to become a professional blogger?
I started blogging way back in 2005. At that time, I was in school and my only idea about blogging was to write something and get it published on the internet so that others can read it.
Soon, perhaps towards the end of the same year I found out about Adsense and figured out several website monetization methods. It was like a shutter opening inside my head and in that instant so many possibilities opened up in front of my eyes.
Yes, I decided to become a professional blogger the very moment. However, instead of building one major blog I built several micro niche blogs and focused on Adsense and affiliate marketing to make money from those blogs.
Before you started blogging, what were you doing as a professional?
I was in school when I started blogging. Later during the 2005 to 2007 period, along with blogging I did a computer hardware course. I loved tech, I still do.
What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome as a beginner blogger?
Many of the obstacles that I have faced aren’t an issue in 2015. We had slow internet speeds – the first time I got an internet connection on my home PC was way back in 2003. That was a dial-up connection.
My luck with Adsense was great and I had already managed to earn over $20k+ during the 2007 to 2009 period when I was in college. Along with that several other monetization options like CJ, Infolinks, etc. worked out pretty well too. Private ads, however, were the biggest in my earning sources. So money wasn’t an issue for me and somehow that made it easy for me to explain blogging to my family – who would, perhaps otherwise – might have forced me into a 9to5 job.
I am from a small town where the networking opportunities are slim. That can be another obstacle that I faced – and perhaps still facing. I have never been to any networking events till date.
Any horror client stories you’d like to share with us and how you dealt with the situation?
Luckily I haven’t had any of those, at least not horrific by any standards. I have had a few bad clients that taught me several lessons. Here’s the point-wise breakdown:
- Never accept a “difficult to get along” – client. They will ask you to lower down your fees, they will want more than what you can deliver, they will never be happy with your work and so on. Choose your clients wisely.
- Always charge upfront – If you want to avoid horror stories, always charge upfront. In addition to that, put a disclaimer on your site that says – “No Refunds” which will help you out with Paypal disputes. I remember once I delivered the articles and the client told me everything was all right and then we moved on. Few weeks later I got a charge back on the same order. I tried to contact the client but got no response. So, I challenged the dispute on Paypal and showed the disclaimer available on my website to Paypal. I won the charge back due to the disclaimer.
- Connect with your clients – I love to create healthy business connections and getting to know your client is the first step. I provide my skype details on my website, am available round the clock via. email and social accounts. I check my messages and emails everywhere.
- Over deliver – I like to deliver more than what is asked, if it is a time bound project then I invest more time into it, if it is based on quantity – I try to provide more than the numbers initially discussed.
Which blog post you have written that you feel the proudest?
There’s many, but if I have to pick one, I will choose my CopyBlogger Guest Post. Even Jon Morrow told me that it was impeccable.
Here’s 3 more Guest Posts that I have written which are among my favorites:
- 50 Ways Social Media Can Destroy Your Business – KissMetrics
- 43 Creative Ways to Breathe Life Back Into Your Blog – BoostBlogTraffic
- 40 Ways to Develop and Protect Your Writing Brand – WriteToDone
Who among your blogging peers do you consider the best and why?
Again, it is pretty difficult to pick one as there are many. My mentor Jon Morrow is amazing – he is surely the best. There are many qualities of Jon Morrow that makes him the best. For example, he is the best storyteller and creator of the most catchy headlines, sub-heads and openings and closing. His content is catchy, easily read and navigated. He knows how to build a list, how to best promote a post, how to keep readers happy and students educated. Too many qualities to count really.
Here are 3 other bloggers whose blogs I read and consider them really good.
What do you think separates yourself from other good bloggers out there?
I guess – time. I have been blogging since 2005. I have seen times changing, SEO evolving – how even an off topic link with a crappy article used to rank in those days, and how even the best of the content needs to be marketed today to get that same ranking. I have seen how some of the so-called “Good Bloggers” have left blogging and quit over the past decade and how new bloggers have filled their space.
I have blogged on niche blogs, earned money from Adsense and affiliate marketing both. Some of my first incomesÂ were cheques from CJ and Adsense. Rather than just preaching stuff, I have applied most of my tips on my niche blogging network and got results. The tips that I provide comes from my own experience of SEO and Social Media – rather than researched and rehashed topics from the Internet.
So yes, in a lot of ways am different from other good bloggers and in many ways we all are similar because they too have been blogging for ages now and have learned from their own experiences.
List down the blogging tools that you use and explain why people should use them for their own blogs.
There are many kinds of blogging tools that a blogger can use to amplify their reach, simplify their promotions and most importantly, build targeted and powerful connections that they can always leverage. Here a small list.
- Keyword tools – If you are a niche blogger and looking for keyword ideas and want another tool in addition to Adwords Keyword Planer, then try out Uber Suggest.
- Content Amplification Tools: To promote blog content on the social media – let me start with my own – Guest Crew, and then there are two more ViralContentBuzz and JustRetweet. For promoting content by displaying it on popular blogs, use tools likeÂ OutBrain and Taboola.
- Social media tools: For me, I like Buffer and it is kind of enough to manage my social activities. But GuestCrew needs to track the results for the promotions we do for our clients and for that we require plenty of Social Media Monitoring Tools.
- Plugin: (Am taking it granted that you are on a WordPress.) There are certain plugins that help a blogger big time – here’s a few of those. Tweetable Quotes Tim Soulo this is one of my favorite tools and it has got me over 1400+ Tweets alone on my previous roundup post. SEO by Yoast, particularly helpful to enable Twitter Cards. Thrive leads or PopUpDomination for email list building.
- Email Solutions: I use Mailchimp for my personal blog and AmplifyBlog as MailChimp is free and I don’t use it for marketing as the free version of MailChimp is pretty much limited. I Use the paid version of MailerLite for GuestCrew, we had to buy a really heavy package there as GuestCrew has many lists – The Crowd Funding Backers, The Social Enthusiasts, The Campaign Supporters The on-site emails from GuestCrew are sent out via. Mandrill. On the whole, I value our subscribers and treat them as our biggest asset. They are the ones who keep us on top of the competition.
How “successful” would you consider your blog?
That is a really tough question. It is hard to measure success and am not sure what metrics we can use to determine the amount of success that we have so far. I consider success when it makes money directly or contributes to the overall income somehow.
Guest Crew has some targets that mostly include getting influencer signups and running more campaigns. We provide two main services on Guest Crew. One is the boosting up of any business launch by our crowd speaking model. The other is the content amplification service which promotes and amplifies content online. For both of these services we require influencers and our blog is the biggest contributor of these signups.
Personally, I consider my blog to be fairly successful in terms of getting our objectives fulfilled.Â Stat wise, the blog section receives over 40k+ uniques every month and 90%+ of the traffic comes from Organic Search. Even though the campaigns themselves get the biggest share of social traffic and shares, the reason mainly is the topic of those campaigns for example: Asia Bibi, Nepal Earthquake Relief, Children Victims, etc. which are mostly on social issues and causes that one wants to support the greater cause of upholding humanity. On the other hand, there are paid campaigns such asÂ Temok, which are promoted with real dollars which are spent on Facebook ads, Twitter Ads and Adwords.
What do you think are the upcoming blogging trends people need to watch out for?
I love to catch up with the latest trends and stay updated. At the beginning of 2015, we asked 18 experts to predict the number 1 social media trend for 2015. Based on the replies, I followed up with my own list of top 2015 trends.
Even though the list was specifically for Social Media, much of it applies to blogging too. For blogging – “Twitter Cards” and “Tweetable Quotes” and perhaps “Roundup Posts” are the most in-demand trends at this moment.
If there’s anyone advice that you would say to a starting blogger, what would it be?
If anyone’s starting out in the field of blogging, my first suggestion is to not make any unrealistic expectation from blogging. Blogging is just like any other profession or business, you need to give it time – and the hard work you put inÂ will give results over time. Rather than finding cheats or shortcuts – try to be disciplined and stay focused. Try to set realistic goals and keep working towards reaching those goals.
Yes, there are ways to learn quickly and start on the right foot – and lessen the learning curve and save months or years of losing time by hitting around the bush. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
- Choose WordPress. Get a simple, free theme and get started. Best to keep it lean and low cost.
- Set up an email list. Use MailChimp or any other free email service. There are plenty of plugins to integrate MailChimp with WordPress.
- Focus on a few key points like making sure to post at least one high quality and unique article a week, comment on at least 10 related blogs every day, build a social media following and actively share other people’s content.
- Keep it going for months – best to take a 2-year target and keep working at it.
It is not difficult to make a really strong blog or a loyal following. The real issue is the hard work and the time spent – after all, whatever you are – new blogger or an old timer, the key is always in the consistency.
That concludes our interview!
Don’t forget to visit Uttoran Sen Dot Com to read more blogging tips and tricks to increase your traffic and sales.
If youÂ want us to feature a specific expert blogger here,Â click hereÂ and let us know who that blogger is.
Author: Christopher Jan Benitez
Content marketer during the day. Heavy sleeper at night. Dreams of non-existent brass rings. Writer by trade. Pro wrestling fan by choice (It’s still real to me, damnit!). Family man all the time.