The following is an interview that was meant to be published on a different website. For reasons not relevant for discussion here, the publisher backed out and I decided to publish it here. I hope you find value out of it.
Arun Basil Lal
Hello! What’s Your Background, And What Is Your Blog About?
Hello, my name is Arun Basil Lal. I am an Electrical Engineer and a WordPress developer. I started a blog named MillionClues.com in 2006. I primarily write about WordPress, Web Development and Entrepreneurship.
Million Clues is one of my greatest investments I have made till date. I earn my living directly (affiliate sales) and indirectly (clients find me through my blog) through Million clues.
What Motivated You To Get Started With The Blog?
Blogging as such was a new concept in 2006 and when I heard about it, I wanted to give it a try. I was in college at the time and I started writing about everything I wanted to write about.
I was using Google’s Blogger at that time. Soon, I discovered WordPress and loved that it was open source and that I could customize and edit the software. I started writing about things I learned about WordPress.
Some of my readers at that time approached me to build websites for them. By the time I graduated I was making more money from Adsense ads and client projects than I would have made at a job.
Revenue Model For The Blog?
In the beginning all the money came from Adsense ads. Compared to today, Adsense ads worked quite well for my blog. Right now, I do not run ads at all, all of my income comes via affiliate commissions.
The best way I know to monetize any website is to look at the top pages and think of what products you could sell via the page. Make a list of your top ten most visited pages. Think of what the reader is looking for while reading the page and find products that the reader could potentially buy.
For example, one of my top pages is an article on how to build a full width template for a WordPress theme. I have included affiliate links to some themes with full width templates and the page converts quite well.
Strategies You Have Used For Building Up The Traffic?
I am not someone who is worried about traffic or try to reach a certain goal traffic number. All of my traffic has been organic since the beginning.
I did a few guest posts in the initial days and this helped me reach out and grow my audience. If you are starting a new blog today, for every 10 posts on your website, do a guest post. This will definitely help you get ranked and gain some readers.
One thing that worked then and still work today is to write about hot topics. Always be on the look out for the latest in your niche and write in depth articles about them. If your content is out there before everyone else write about it, other bloggers will link to your content and you will get organic search traffic for a very long time.
How Have You Grown Your Email List?
I wish someone told me to start working on my email list from day one. I cannot stress this enough, start an email list as soon as you start blogging.
The most common and effective way to start building an email list is by offering a reward for signing up. It could be an ebook or a copy of a software you made. Something the reader might find valuable.
Maintaining an email list is often harder than making one. Send exclusive content that adds insane value to the subscriber. One or two emails a month is a safe pace to start with.
How You Write Great Content That Performs Well?
Most of my content comes from working on projects. Once I solve a challenge I write a tutorial for the benefit of others trying to solve the same problem. Writing in depth tutorials have consistently worked out for me.
If I could pick out one factor for the success of an article, its without question the Title. The title of the article is like a one like advertisement for the article. A great title goes a long way.
I suggest that you invest in learning how to write great titles. Read the book, Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman. It’s a great resource.
I recently wrote an article about the power of negotiation. I titled it, ‘How To Give Yourself A 30% Salary Hike (Without A Promotion)‘. I got a ton of traffic from Facebook and Linkedin. The title promises a VERY desired result with minimal effort. I came up with it from the knowledge of reading Cashvertising. Read it.
What Are The Biggest Challenges You’ve Faced And Obstacles You’ve Overcome With Your Blog? If You Had To Start Over, What Would You Do Differently?
If I could go back in time, I would start working on my email list from day one.
Also I would have turned to affiliate programs much earlier than I did. And I would have collaborated with other bloggers much more than I did when I was starting out.
Have You Found Anything Particularly Helpful Or Advantageous?
As I mentioned in a previous answer, writing great titles is a skill that will help any serious blogger. Invest in books and resources that will teach you how to write good titles.
Apart from the book Cashvertising as mentioned before, I highly recommend reading the book: Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples.
What’s Your Advice For Bloggers Who Are Just Starting Out?
The most common mistake I see is people starting out without a plan. Blogging is tough and it is not easy to come up with great content regularly. Make a content plan and work on it as you would do with any other job.
Pick a topic that you are passionate about and you think others might find valuable. Write consistently.