Expert Blogger Interview: Angela Alcorn

Success as a blogger is relative. For some, blogging success is measured by the ability to manage multiple blogs and publish posts online, profit from their writing skills, land an editing gig at a prominent blog.

Angela Alcorn has achieved all, and then some.

However, as Browser and Social Editor of MakeUseOf, aside from owner of multiple blogs, she claims to have barely scratched the surface of her true potential! This is a scary claim from someone of Angela’s stature, but it also serves as an inspiration to bloggers all around that…

There is no limit to what you can achieve as a blogger, no matter how accomplished you are. Click To Tweet

I interviewed Angela to fully understand where Angela is coming from and what her plans are in the future towards her path to even successful blogging.

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

Hi I m Ange. Angela Alcorn
Screenshot from Angela’s homepage.

I was working in Australia, editing and converting educational materials to XML. We were creating choose-your-own-adventure books for tertiary students so they could learn just what they needed to and purchase one book with everything in it. It was part technical, part editing. Great job, really.

On the side I was also studying, doing a degree in Internet Studies and Journalism. I knew that my passion lay in Social Media and that writing articles online was going to become important to me, both on my blog or as a freelance journalist. I was setting myself up for an online career.

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

I started a personal blog back in 2002, after realising it was better than updating my website every day with a new “status” on the home page (which I’d been doing for four years by then). So, I’d say my biggest hurdle as a professional blogger was to approach blogging differently to the sorts of posts I wrote personally.

Also, I made a HUGE mistake early out in that I let my domain lapse. Disheartened from losing the domain I’d been building links to for a year, I made another huge mistake in GIVING UP on running my professional blog. Instead, I focused on pitching articles and writing professional blog posts for pay.

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

One client promised me $100 and a byline, then drilled me for article ideas before I wrote for them. After I got paid (promptly) and finally saw my article go live I found that they’d not added my byline and if you checked the URL you could see the WordPress username they’d given me was “PumpNDump”. Seriously.

Given that was clearly their intention all along, I was impressed I got paid. And back in the day, that was a pretty good wage for one article. I think I sent them a gentle reminder that they’d promised a byline, but I don’t recall if I ever got it.

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

Tough question. I’ve written some long guides that got turned into eBooks, so I’d say they were probably the highlight of my freelancing. Sadly, they were on Facebook Privacy and Facebook Marketing and although the theory behind my advice is still sound, all the examples and images of how to do things are completely out of date and went that way almost immediately.

On the other hand, I wrote a straightforward, but involved article on the Best Linux Distros that has been much-loved by many people, a heartfelt guide to why the EU VAT changes of 2015 were bad for entrepreneurs that helped a few lawmakers see just how crazy it was, and a guide for freelancers to write posts their clients will love that could actually help people bring in more work for themselves. It’s hard to say which sort of post makes me most proud.

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

Regarding people running a professional blog, I’m a big fan of Holly Reisem Hanna and Ashley Faulkes, because they cover a lot of similar content to myself from slightly different angles. Both of them have clearly worked out who their ideal reader is, and they create kick-arse content for them. I’m impressed with their clarity, quality, reliability, pinnability, and more. Both of them have great blogs that are more-ish and are clearly getting them the results they want. And good on them!

In the professional freelance blogging world, I’m very impressed by young writers like Aja Frost, who have obviously learned how to play the game and build their name and portfolio very quickly.

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

Header image for one of Angela’s many blogs, Vocal Content.

I’m quite an anomaly, in that I am a seasoned blogger and entrepreneur that took a long time to get back to building my blogs from scratch. In the meantime, I have been writing and editing mostly for MakeUseOf, which has given me incredible insight into what goes on behind the scenes at a near-top-tier blog (currently sitting on an Alexa ranking of 1092, which is not too shabby AT ALL).

This is both inspiring and terrifying at the same time. I know what it takes to get a blog to that height, and I know what systems I want in place to get my blogs there. I also know just how far I’ve got to go!

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

  • Feedly – Stay inspired by reading blogs.
  • Todoist – Stay organised.
  • Google Drive – Spreadsheets, spreadsheets, spreadsheets. I have a spreadsheet for everything and one spreadsheet to rule them all.
  • IFTTT – Internet automation. Use it for many, many things. Share curated content, add info to spreadsheets, & back up your articles!
  • BuzzSumo – Research what’s working for your competition.
  • Pixabay – For free photo stock.
  • Canva – Make those pictures pinnable.
  • Tweetdeck – Because Twitter.
  • Hootsuite – Bulk uploads to Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+.
  • Buffer – To deliver a slow, steady trickle of curated content.
  • SocialPilot – Schedule to Pinterest (or other places).
  • Morning Coffee – Open up your VIP morning tabs with one click.

How “successful” would you consider your blog?

My professional blog(s) are still quite new, but I am seeing regular traffic and earning money from affiliates and products. Most importantly, my blogs are helping people by sharing great ideas and bringing together a community of people in the same position.

So now I just need to keep the posts coming, create new products, find more affiliates and repeat ad nauseum until I can live up to my standards for success. Which, as you might recall, are set pretty high. 🙂

To rephrase, I want great things for my blogs. And I know I’m doing things right and setting myself up to get what I want. And it’s always time to get back to work!

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

  • Peripheral Content – Building an audience is getting noticed on the sites where people are reading. So, creating posts for LinkedIn, Medium, and in-depth answers for Quora is big on most bloggers’ agendas.
  • Pinterest – If you’re not giving each post an image for Pinterest, you’re missing out on a HUGE audience.
  • Video – Periscope & Blab are today’s melting pots, and YouTube is still going strong. People want to know what you look like so they can trust you. And if you’re making videos, people REMEMBER you, which sets you apart from the crowd immediately. If you want your blog and yourself to get noticed, make videos and put them where people will see it.

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

Don't quit. Keep putting out content and working out what works for you. Click To Tweet

Your audience will build; you’ll learn more about what you’re doing and even if you change direction or go back and fix old posts, you’ll still be moving forward. Stay true to yourself but within the focus of the blog you’ve chosen to write.

Keep planning for the future, start writing the next post, publish it when it’s ready, keep looking for ways to monetize, keep building your following, and just keep on at it. You’ll never hit your pie-in-the-sky goals if you don’t hit your next goal: to put out another article. Keep on keeping on.

About the 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. Hire me to write your content!