Every successful blogger starts somewhere.
Ashely Faulkes started with nothing.
No blogging experience. No knowledge of SEO and building a site on WordPress whatsoever.
Years later, Ashley has built one of the best blogs about SEO and WordPress in Mad Lemmings.
It is funny how passion, dedication, and hard work will get you from point A to B.
For Ashley, the journey may have been tough, but the rewards have been truly great.
Read his interview below to find out how he transformed himself into one of the premier bloggers about online marketing.
Before you started blogging, what were you doing as a professional?
Before I started blogging, I was working as a web software developer for a big bank here in Switzerland. (and no, I don’t have a secret Swiss bank account :>)
What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome as a beginner blogger?
There was so much for me to learn when I started out, it was awesome fun, but at the same time quite intimidating.
I had zero experience with marketing of any kind. I had studied as a Mechanical Engineer and worked in IT. So not only did I have to learn about WordPress to run my blog, but I also had to figure out email marketing, social media, copywriting and blogging. All at the same time.
Of course, in the long run, this has meant that I am now very good at learning things on my own and learning fast. Not a bad thing I would say!
Any horror client stories you’d like to share with us and how you dealt with the situation?
Without naming anyone specifically – I had a client in the early days who was always arguing about price and what I had to do for that small amount of money.
When you start out trying to make money online, you take on almost any client under any terms. Everyone will tell you that this is a big mistake. And they are right, but when you need any client you can get – it’s not easy to say no. Eventually, you learn the hard way. Through experience.
In hindsight, I would say that there are a few red flags you should watch out for. Clients who are
- always negotiating on price
- asking for deals or offers
- making promises that you can’t know will be delivered on (e.g.,. if you do this, then later I will help you with this)
Which blog post you have written that you feel the proudest?
Recently I wrote a huge post (15,000 words) on starting an online business.
I not only wrote the most comprehensive post on the topic online but also included an infographic, resources, and expert opinions. This is the kind of post I refer people to when they ask what an “epic” post should be.
What do you think separates yourself from other good bloggers out there?
I believe my unique skill set is what separates me from others. I have a technical background in web design and development, but can also hold my own with top SEOs and understanding online marketing too. That enables me to teach people topics that take the whole online marketing game into account.
List down the blogging tools that you use and explain why people should use them for their blogs.
Everyone has an opinion on which blogging tools to use and you have to be careful to choose the right one for you.
Having said that, these are my go-to tools for any website and blog:
WordPress – so easy to get started, create a site, customize it and continue growing as you learn
Active Campaign – A little learning curve on this one, but better than Aweber or Mailchimp at almost the same price. It gives you the power of email marketing, with marketing automation, but you don’t have to use all the features until you are ready for them.
Thrive Leads – You have to start building your email list from day one (or as soon as you can). And one of the easiest ways to do that in whatever form you like (hello bar, popup, slide in, content upgrade) it is all possible with this WordPress plugin.
Thrive Content Builder – Being able to create stand-out pages and content (including landing pages) is key to being above the competition online, and this tool will give you the design skills without needing to learn to code.
How “successful” would you consider your blog?
We are all our worst critics, so this is a tough question to answer.
I feel my blog is not quite “there” yet, as I am still learning. But it certainly stands above many others with some of the content I have created. This is one example of where I feel very successful (Online Business Ideas.) This is a post that has brought my website significant traffic and social shares (over 9,000), as well as email subscribers.
However, my aim moving forward is to focus on helping people come to terms with SEO for WordPress. Once I have achieved that, I will feel more successful than I do now.[clickToTweet tweet=”Decide on a very specific niche and stick to that in everything that you do. @madlemmingz” quote=”Decide on a very specific niche and stick to that in everything that you do.”]
What do you think are the upcoming blogging trends people need to watch out for?
With the huge amount of content being produced on a daily basis, I think people need to watch out for “quality over quantity.”
Many of the bigger bloggers I watch (and to an extent myself included) are only writing epic content and only when they have something worth publishing. People like Brain Dean have shown that it is possible to rank, get traffic and stand out even when you publish only once a month or even less.
Say something worthwhile (well researched, backed up with examples, images, videos) rather than publishing average content on a weekly basis. That is the trend to watch out for.
If there’s any one advice that you would say to a starting blogger, what would it be?
Decide on a very specific niche and stick to that in everything that you do.