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Expert Blogger Interview: Adam Connell

In an industry filled with fevered egos, Adam Connell has been silently churning out amazing content on Blogging Wizard.

With countless of know-it-all bloggers or marketers who huff and puff without producing any tangible proof of their achievements, Adam is a cut above the rest. He doesn’t have to tell you he’s awesome, you just know it.

Adam just lets his blog content do the talking for him, and they’re nothing short of impressive.

Most importantly, Adam is one of the down-to-earth bloggers I’ve ever talked to. His unassuming and grounded nature is a stark contrast to the loud and in-your-face style that most influencers project these days.

In this exclusive interview, read how Adam turned blogging into a profession and never looked back and learn practical advice on how you can start a blogging career of your own.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Learn more about one of the best bloggers in @BloggingWizard founder @adamjayc in this interview” quote=”Find out the humble roots of Adam Connell, Founder of Blogging Wizard, and how he continues to stay humble despite being one of the best at his craft.”]

1. What was the moment that made you decide to become a professional blogger?

It was never something that I planned out in advance.

Even after running 3-4 blog’s, the idea of becoming a professional blogger didn’t really enter my mind.

I’d always thought of blogging as something that I’d do as a side project.

But, there was a moment when I was looking over the income from my blog when I realized that I could afford to leave my job. That was an amazing feeling and I was so tempted at the time – the allure of the freedom of being my own boss.

It seemed almost surreal. I’m careful about my finances and I don’t take unnecessary risks, so I waited.

Then I waited a bit longer – I wasn’t sure if that money would continue to come in, but it did.

Once reality had settled in, I made the decision to leave my job which allowed me to invest more time in growing my blog, and other projects.

2. Before you started blogging, what were you doing as a professional?

When I started my first blog, I was working at an electrical retailer while studying music technology at college.

This blog was for an online record label I was running at the time, so it wasn’t like a traditional blog.

Before starting my main blog (Blogging Wizard), I was working as the Operations Manager for a marketing agency. Working at that agency was a big part of my inspiration for starting Blogging Wizard and gave me an interesting perspective to share with my readers.

3. What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome as a beginner blogger?

Dealing with failure.

Here’s what happened:

I launched a record label in college. It wasn’t really a blogging failure, it was more of a business failure.

A few of my friends and I were producing electronic music while studying at college. A lecturer of ours had his own record label and explained how he set it up. He made it sound easy, but it wasn’t.

After months of prep work, building a website and countless hours of missed sleep – we launched.

We made around £7 off downloads. Not even enough to cover hosting costs. And the kicker is that because we made so little, the store we used for selling music didn’t even pay out that money (lol).

I was young. I had dreams. Crazy dreams that were devoid of reality, or a decent marketing strategy.

It was around the time where the ‘build it and they will come’ advice was popular. But it was so far from the truth.

But, it was what I did with this failure that changed everything. We released our music for free and turned the label into a netlabel (think of it like the music equivalent of open source software).

We went on to publish over 60 digital releases from artists all over the world. Racking up close to 3 million digital downloads. All with the help of a blog and a bunch of online communities.

This was an amazing experience. It taught me the power of free content and provided the foundational inspiration for me to dive head first into marketing.

But it could have easily not happened. The failure was a huge burn to my ego. But I dug deep and made the best of what I thought was a bad situation. 

4. Any horror client stories you’d like to share with us and how you dealt with the situation?

I was working with a property company on SEO. Everything was going very well.

Rankings were on the up, and business was rolling in for them. Then one day all of their rankings tanked.

Page 1 rankings down to page 4 across all their priority keywords.

Backlink monitoring revealed that a single website had scraped the clients Yell.com listing.

What was interesting about this was that the website created hundreds of spammy web directory clones on sub-domains. Then shoved links to the client on multiple pages on hundreds of sub-domains. Random categories as well – plumbing, automotive – everything.

Well over 50,000 backlinks were blasted at their homepage in a day or so.

I emailed the website and they removed every single link within 24 hours. Within a few days, rankings returned. Probably one of the easiest recoveries from Penguin related issues that I’ve ever experienced.

What’s even more interesting is all of those backlinks were nofollow.

5. Which blog post you have written that you feel the proudest?

Good question. I’ve never really thought about my blog posts in that way.

But off the top of my head, I was pretty happy with this guide I wrote about lead magnets. It’s over 6K words and covers everything about lead magnets – planning, creating and delivering them. Packed with examples, tools and a bunch of other stuff.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Trying to make a blog successful is like football…the goal posts keep moving.’ @adamjayc” quote=”Trying to make a blog successful (or anything else) is like playing football and using jumpers for goal posts. The goal posts keep moving.” theme=”style6″]

6. Who among your blogging peers do you consider the best and why?

Difficult to say. Everyone has different skillsets and different experience that they leverage.

But there are a few people that really stand out:

  • Tim Soulo from Ahrefs– Got mad respect for Tim. He’s got his finger on the pulse of the marketing community in a way that others haven’t. I reckon it’s part of the reason he’s doing such a great job with the folks at Ahrefs. The way they’ve developed that tool, and their approach to content is excellent.
  • Gael Breton and Mark Webster from Authority Hacker– A lot of marketing advice is focused on people’s experience from within the ‘marketing marketing to marketers’ bubble. That’s not the case with these guys, they test everything outside of the marketing space before sharing it.
  • Jason Quey from The Storyteller Marketer– One of the best marketers I know. He’s got mad content promotion skills and is a networking pro.
  • Joe Elliot from One Man Wiki– The way Joe handles blogger outreach is amazing. It doesn’t feel like he’s marketing to you, it feels like you’re talking with a friend.
  • David Hartshorne from Azahar Media– I love reading about marketing tools, and that’s what David writes about most. He’s got a keen eye for detail that shines through what he writes.
  • Elna Cain from ElnaCain.com– I’m constantly in awe of how Elna is able to accomplish so much in so little time, while everything she writes is so polished.

7. What do you think separates yourself from other good bloggers out there?

Not sure I can actually answer that. I try to avoid comparing myself to others as much as possible.

8. List down the blogging tools that you use and explain why people should use them for their own blogs.

I use a lot of tools. Not all are essential. But these are the ones I rely on heavily:

  • WPX Hosting– My WordPress web host of choice. Fast servers and responsive support. They also do free malware scanning and clean ups.
  • Thrive Leads– There are a lot of plugins on the market for list building (I cover a bunch of them in this post) but this plugin is all you really need for deploying opt-in forms. The feature set is amazing.
  • eClincher– I use this for managing my social media profiles. Their social inbox has a ‘mark as complete’ button which makes managing mentions so much easier. They have a lot of other cool features too.
  • Ahrefs– My go-to tool for a lot of SEO tasks. For example, backlink analysis, monitoring mentions, keyword research and more.
  • BuzzStream– This is primarily a tool for blogger outreach, link building and influencer research. But it makes for a VERY good CRM too.
  • Trello– This keeps my editorial calendar organized. And it’s free.
  • Google Docs– This makes it easy to work with freelance writers and guest contributors on articles.
  • Mailerlite– One of the newer additions to my toolset, I use Mailerlite as my email provider for my personal blog. It’s cheaper than MailChimp and it’s easier to use. Also, they have visual automation & landing page creation.

Okay. Listed a bunch of tools but just because I use them doesn’t mean that they’re right for you.

A bunch of them may be, but not all of them.

For example, eClincher may be overkill if you’re just starting your blog – something like the free version of Hootsuite may be more suitable until your blog grows.

9. How “successful” would you consider your blog?

Trying to make a blog successful (or anything else) is like playing football and using jumpers for goal posts. The goal posts keep moving.

It’s a term that means different things to different people.

That’s why the concept of being successful (or not) rarely enters my mind.

But, I get to do something that I enjoy at a pace that suits me. The freedom is extremely refreshing.

I was also able to give my girlfriend a job so she could leave the hospitality industry.

To me, that’s enough.

10. What do you think are the upcoming blogging trends people need to watch out for?

I wouldn’t exactly call these upcoming trends, but they’re worth keeping an eye on:

  • Live streaming – Thanks to tools like Facebook Live, this is far easier than ever.
  • Mobile – Google is in the process of rolling out a separate index for mobile. Is your blog ready?
  • Facebook Messenger – This is now more than a messaging app. Messenger is now a destination for Facebook Ads and has some great potential for list building.

11. If there’s any one advice that you would say to a starting blogger, what would it be?

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Get clear on your strengths and leverage them. Find your flow and go with it.’ @adamjayc ‏” quote=”Get clear on your strengths and leverage them. Find your flow and go with it.”]

Difficult question – there’s a lot I’d like to say to someone who is just getting started.

But it’d likely be this:

There are a lot of people on the web sharing how they earned insane amounts of money. And how they did it. You know, those income reports sharing “How I earned $126,680 this month.”

It’s easy to read this and be inspired. Being inspired is great but these posts distort expectations. These people have been grafting for years to make it to this point.

These income reports make it all sound easy. But it takes a lot more effort.

Here’s why:

I’ve spoken to so many people that have followed this sort of advice and tried to make money the same way – but it didn’t work.

Sure, it could be due to the implementation but in most cases there is a far more fundamental problem. It’s the personality type of the person that’s making the money.

Certain monetization techniques work better when used by people with certain personality traits.

For example, someone may make money with virtual summits. But if you try the same thing and you dislike networking and public speaking – it’ll be challenging and difficult to make it work.

Which is why I’ll likely never run my own virtual summit. I prefer to work behind the scenes, building and improving systems – Instead of networking/public speaking.

Remember this:

It’s easier to follow in other people’s footsteps, sure. But what works for some doesn’t always work for others.

Instead, get clear on your strengths and leverage them. Find your flow and go with it.

That way, you’ll be more likely to enjoy the journey. Not just the destination.

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