Darren Rowse of Problogger.net really needs no introduction, but I am apt to give you a short one anyway! If you’ve ever done any research online about wordpress or blogging, you’ve most likely come across Problogger.net, which is one of the world’s most popular blogs and ultimate resources for everything blogging. Not only have I personally been an active reader on his site for many years now, but I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and speak with Darren on a few blogging panels. It’s always cool to be able to put a face and voice to popular blogs that you’ve been reading over the years, and even better that Darren was a cool guy as well.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
G’day from Melbourne Australia where I live with my family (my wife Vanessa and 3 boys). I got into blogging back in 2002 after a friend sent me a link to a blog that he thought might help me in some work I was doing.
I’d never heard the term ‘blog’ before but quickly fell in love with the concept of ordinary people being able to use blogs to amplify their voice and connect with others who had similar passions and interests.
I initially blogged on a personal blog but as that grew in popularity saw opportunity to start niche focused blogs on hobbies. In time these began to make a little money and eventually grew into a full time thing for me.
I’ve been blogging full time for around 10 years now.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
My main blog is a blog called Digital Photography School and it is a blog about photography.
It is a topic that I’ve always been interested in since I was a kid and my dad let me take the family kodak instamatic film camera on a school excursion.
After blogging for a while on my personal blog I started a camera review blog that reviewed digital cameras. That blog was the first blog that I monetised. I realised after a while that I was less passionate about cameras and more passionate about using them and teaching others to do so – so I started dPS to do just that in 2006.
I also have a blog called ProBlogger – a blog about blogging – which is a bit of a side project for me and where I share what I’ve learned about blogging.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
That blog has a number of income streams. I initially monetised it with AdSense and Amazon affiliate promotions but after a couple of years added other income streams including using other ad networks, selling ads directly to advertisers, affiliate promotions of other people’s photography eBooks, courses and software and then creating my own eBooks to sell.
These days the main 3 income streams are our own eBooks which we now have published 15 of, direct ad sales and affiliate promotions of other people’s photography products (mainly teaching products).
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
Many things. In fact last year I created a webinar on the topic in which I shared 10
1. If you want it to be a Business… treat it as one
2. Identify WHO you want to read your blog
3. Build an email list (email drives a heap of our traffic and almost all our sales)
4. Popups are a great way to get people to sign up to your list and cause less problems than you might think
5. Create something of your own to sell
6. Create content that Informs, Inspires and Interacts
7. Look for Sparks of Opportunity (your next big thing might be a small thing that is currently right in front of you)
8. Take Action – the most successful bloggers I know are people who are constantly experimenting and implementing
9. Do Good with Your Blog – ultimately if you make the world a better place with your blog you’ll be doing something that feels worthwhile and is easier to sustain and it’ll also be something others pay attention to
10. Aim to have a big impact upon those you already reach (don’t just spend your whole time trying to find new readers – look after those you already have).
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
Can I include 4?
Carryology – http://www.carryology.com (I have a bag problem)
Japan Camera Hunter – http://www.japancamerahunter.com – (old cameras)
Zen Pencils – http://zenpencils.com (cartoons, inspiration and quotes)
Style and Shenanigans – http://styleandshenanigans.com – (it’s my wife’s blog so I have to read it to see if she mentions me)
John Chow, Zac Johnson, Darren Rowse & Brian Clark at BlogWorld
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
3 tools I use every day include:
SproutSocial.com – which I use to manage my social accounts
MarsEdit – for writing and uploading content
BaseCamp.com – project management and team communications
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Stick at it.
I’ve had numerous times where it felt hard, I lacked inspiration, felt paralysed by fear or I felt like giving up for one reason or another.
Building a blog to become something that is profitable takes considerable time and significant amounts of work.
See it as a long term investment and try to create a blog that matters to you in some deeper way that being an income stream. This way you’ll be able to sustain it in those tougher times.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
I think one of the most powerful things I did (after hearing about others doing it in other industries) in the early days of Digital Photography School was to do some thinking about my potential readers.
The more you understand who you are writing for (or who you want to write for) the better position you’ll be in to
- write content that meets their needs
- work out where you need to promote your bog
- work out how to build engagement with them
- see how to monetise your blog and make it sustainable
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d probably spend it on some aspect of the blogs design whether it be on a template or logo. I’d choose this because this is my weakest area yet I know the look of your blog creates a significant impression on first time readers.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
I’m also active on social media for both of my sites but my ProBlogger accounts are:
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Meet Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net