This is an email interview that former Sparkplugging Intern Cindy Bidar conducted with Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips during her internship. Thanks to Daniel for taking the time to answer her insightful questions!
How has blogging changed in the years since you started?
I believe that around four years ago blogging had more close relationships. That is, you would create a blog on a certain niche, and within weeks you would already know everyone inside that niche. They would come to comment on your posts, you would comment on theirs and so on. Obviously this was only possible because you didn’t have thousands of blogs on every niche.
As the blogging phenomenon grew we lost some of that closeness.
I don’t think that this is necessarily bad though. It is just how things evolve.
What traffic building strategies would you suggest for a new blogger?
Focus on writing posts that are insanely useful. I call those “killer posts.”
There are thousands of blogs and websites on every single niche these days, so if you want to stand out from the crowd and attract readers you need to make your content top notch.
Once you have that, work on the promotion, as a killer post is only good if people are actually reading and sharing it.
Who’s blog is on your must read list?
There are many. Here are some that I read daily:
What are some mistakes you see newbie bloggers making?
There are a couple that people make over and over again. The first one is to choose a niche just because you see someone else making good money inside it. Instead you should choose a niche where you believe you will be able to create value.
The second one is trying to make money too early in the game. Some bloggers pack their blogs with ads even before they reach a significant audience. As a consequence, new visitors will go away as fast as they came, and the blog will never grow enough to become an authority.
Do you have any tips for coming up with fresh ideas all the time?
I can share what works for me.
First of all you need to have a system to store all your ideas. Some people will use a voice recorder, others a notebook, others yet will just save drafts on their blogging software. It does not matter what you use, as long as you can store all your ideas.
With this step alone you should already have enough ideas to keep going for a while.
If despite using it you find yourself with a shortage of ideas, take a look on websites and blogs on different niches and check what of their ideas could be adapted into your own niche.
Can you explain duplicate content? Is it something bloggers should be worried about?
According to Google itself duplicate content “generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”
This is something that bloggers need to worry about because it can affect how many of their posts will get indexed by Google.
There are two things to worry about: internal duplicate content and external duplicate content. Internal refers to having the same content displayed in two or more locations of your blog (e.g., the single post page and the monthly archive). This can be solved by using excerpts on your homepage, category and archive pages.
To avoid external duplicate content problems just make sure that you are not submitting your own posts to other blogs or article directories, and don’t allow other people to republish them. Scrapers might still do it against your will, but Google knows how to handle those most of the times.
Are RSS subscriber counts a valid measure of a blog’s popularity, or is RSS still too underused in the general population to be useful as a measuring device?
I believe RSS subscriber base is a good measure of the reach of a blog. If a certain blog has 10,000 RSS readers, for example, you know that around 10,000 people will be exposed to a post published on that blog.
What the RSS count can not predict, though, is the traffic levels of the blog.
Do you recommend bloggers have an opt-in list?
Yes. Email marketing is one of the most effective communication forms, and it should be used by anyone who is trying to make money online or to build a popular website.
How should bloggers approach other blog owners about guest posting?
First of all take some time to analyze what kind of content is popular with the audience of that blog. Then write a top notch article around one of those topics. Finally, email the blogger, and make sure to attach your guest post in the very first email you will send. Writing a preliminary email just asking permission to send a guest post for consideration is a waste of time for everyone, and could get you rejected even before you got your shot.
Is it more important to post often, or to post really informative “pillar” content, when trying to build traffic?
It is much more important to post killer posts. These are the ones who will build the authority of your site and attract new readers.
What is the most effective way to monetize a blog?
It depends. Some blogs will do better with Google AdSense, while others will do really well with affiliate marketing deals. The key to finding the most effective way is testing, testing and some more testing.
What do bloggers need to know about SEO? Is it really that important for a blog? Or should they concentrate on other marketing methods?
It depends on the objectives of the blogger. If he wants to generate substantial money with his blog and possibly turn into a business, then he will need to learn at least the core SEO principles.
If he is blogging as a hobby, though, then it is better to focus his time on content creating and promotion.