Followed by our recent interview with Janice Wald, here is our next one with Adam Connell. Indeed, he is a blogging wizard as his blog name represents. In this exciting interview with Adam Connell, let’s try to catch up on the blogging things that Adam fights against, learn and employ those pertain him to be a successful blogger.
Interview With Adam Connell
Adam runs and manages a blog “Blogging Wizard” for entrepreneurs, bloggers, and business owners. His blog as a wizard featured on Huffington Post, SEJ, Forbes, and so on. And, today we have such a legendry with us. We shall also discuss some crucial aspects of SEO and blogging, like content creation, conversion, link building, etc.
So, let’s get started with the interview and see what he has to offer to grow your online business or blog. Before that, let’s thank Adam for accepting our request and spending his valuable time to respond to our questions in detail.
#1. I have read that you haven’t planned to be a professional blogger. So, at what moment your side project turned out to be a profession?
That’s right. The moment it happened was when my side project was earning more than my full-time job.
And while I had dreams of being able to leave my job, on some level, I never believed that it would actually happen. It always seemed like it was a million miles away, right until the moment it wasn’t.
I remember walking to the pub for lunch one dinner time with my boss. He asked how my side-hustle was going. I replied, “almost £500 so far this month.” – even at that point, leaving my job never felt like it was within the realm of possibilities.
But it happened. More so as a by-product of sheer determination and the fact that I didn’t quit.
Looking back, there were a few events that had to happen for this mindset transformation to occur.
- Launching a free online record label that hit 100,000 downloads in 3-6 months with a blog and a few online communities. This taught me the power of free content.
- Attending a guest lecture on music marketing from Carl Barton (he now runs EarnLearn). This opened my mind to the possibilities of digital marketing.
- Carl’s continued support as the supervisor for my final year project at university. His support was inspirational and fuelled my thirst to learn more.
- Consulting on a web design project for renowned British composer & producer, David Lowe. This validated my drive to continue down the digital marketing route.
- Launching a WordPress niche website and earning my first Clickbank cheque. This proved I could start an online business and make money from it.
- Being hired by Jason Brooks of UK Linkology. I missed the group interview, lacked relevant qualifications (on paper at least), and his business coach told him not to hire me. Despite all of that, it worked out well, and I’ll be forever grateful to Jason for the opportunity. The role was challenging, but the experience was invaluable.
The weird thing about life is that it only makes sense when you look at it in reverse.
At the time, it’s difficult to know what a profound impact certain events can have on your future. Sometimes we need to take a chance.
Each of these events required me to have an open mind. Accept criticism. At times, persevere despite failure. And constantly re-evaluate where my life was heading.
For example, if you asked my 20ish-year-old self what I would be doing 10 years in the future – I would never have said running an award-winning digital marketing blog.
I’d probably have said “running my own recording studio” or something less than inspirational like “probably running my own recording studio, but I doubt that’ll ever happen”.
Yeah, this answer has dragged on a bit now, but three things are super important to take away:
- Failure is a positive life experience despite what anyone else says. We need to fail to learn. The most important thing is that we take what we learn and apply it to the next project.
- You can either take control of your future or relinquish that control. But that’s your choice and nobody else’s.
- Opportunities are everywhere, but you have to be looking otherwise, you’ll miss them.
#2. Success never comes without any hardship. What are the obstacles or struggles you faced during your initial days of professional blogging?
I guess we could say my two biggest challenges were time and, well, myself.
Let me explain:
There was a point in time where I was working on blogs 7 days a week.
Whether it be my marketing agency day job where I was working on content strategy, content development, SEO, etc., or creating content for Blogging Wizard or working on a video game blog with some friends.
And while I did take a few breaks here and there, it was usually because I was ill (e.g. with a chest infection or something ridiculous). I carried on like this for over 3 years. It was a hell of a pace to keep going.
To quote Charlie Sheen, “I had one gear. Go.”
Unfortunately, there was no “epic winning” in this instance, at least not health-wise. I ran myself into the ground, and I’m still picking up the pieces.
If I did it all again, I’d slow down for sure. Work towards some form of work-life balance.
Why? The destination means nothing if you don’t enjoy the journey.
And while I enjoyed what I was doing, I never took time out to appreciate it.
We’ve got to take time out to smell the roses every so often, so to speak.
This was an important lesson to learn.
#3. What are the blogging mistakes that cost you big, and how did you overcome that crisis?
There were a few big mistakes.
Firstly, I wish I started building an email list from day one. Most of the marketers I followed focused on social media, and it just isn’t as effective.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is great for building an audience, and it is a necessary part of the marketing puzzle, but email marketing just works.
I solved this by starting an email list, creating a lead magnet, adding opt-in forms, and building strategic landing pages.
The other mistake was spreading myself too thin.
I can’t tell you how I solved this because it’s still something I do, but I’m undecided as to how much of an issue I have with it. I LOVE starting new projects. I suppose I’d instead get more enjoyment out of what I do and sacrifice a bit of growth rather than grind away so much that I end up hating what I do.
#4. Share any unforgettable experience working on any client’s SEO or lead generation projects?
There are a few experiences that come to mind. They’re not positive, but they taught me valuable lessons that I needed to learn.
There was one client I worked with frequently. I was focused on marketing + content strategy. They had other agencies working on other parts of their business. E.g. web design and development. Pretty big agencies.
One day their web host deleted their entire blog and “accidentally” purged all files from their hosting account. Backups. The lot.
Of course, the web host (that shall remain nameless) took no responsibility, and they parted ways.
Their copywriter was then tasked with piecing their blog back together from article drafts in emails and Word documents.
This was a complete disaster. Fortunately, their ecommerce site was hosted separately, so the impact on their core business was minimal.
And by proxy, I learned the important lesson that third-party backups that you control are critical.
There are plenty of WordPress backup plugins and solutions on the market from free plugins like UpdraftPlus to optimized solutions like BlogVault.
Use your web host’s backups. Sure. But never rely on those, 100%.
#5. What’s your preferable lead generation source and strategy working for clients? SEO, paid marketing, email marketing, social media or anything?
I don’t work with clients often these days. Back in my agency role, our focus was on SEO and content marketing.
It’s my focus for personal projects, and they would likely be the focus if I started taking on clients again. Likely with the addition of email marketing.
That said, they’re all parts of the same puzzle. Any successful marketing strategy needs to leverage all of these channels and more.
Focusing on one will yield better results quicker for that specific channel, but it adds more risk. If that channel tanks, what then? Redundancy is important, not just in your tech stack (e.g. backups) but also your marketing and customer acquisition strategies.
#6. Share some helpful tips to create a conversion-focused or lead-generating content. How do you plan for your very next blog post?
Before anything, you need to understand your goals and view your content as one part of a sales funnel. Think about the customer journey. How will they discover your site? What will the next logical step be? What is the action you wish them to take while on your site?
Generally, you need to plan your funnel in reverse. Consider the end goal, then work up the funnel. Every step of the funnel needs to be a logical next step that leads people further into the funnel.
In the real world, the sales process isn’t as linear as a traditional sales funnel. Still, we have to visualize the process in some way, and this methodology makes the process understandable.
Once you have your funnel mapped out, and all the necessary components are in place, you can consider your content strategy.
What topics will you cover? What content types will work best? Which types of blog posts will work best?
Once that’s in place, you can start creating your “conversion-focused” blog post.
Now, most people think content promotion is something they do afterward, and while that’s mostly true, you need to consider it during the content creation phase.
For example, can you involve influencers in the creation of your content? What about featuring contacts from your network?
This process works best if you ask them to contribute a quote or suggest a resource to link to. This gets them more involved with the success of the content. You can contact them once the post is live and encourage them to share it.
Of course, you’ll need to ensure your content is well-formatted (easy to read), accurate, timely, engaging, etc. And includes calls to action to make it easy for visitors to get to the next stage of your funnel – this might mean linking to landing pages or adding opt-in forms, etc.
#7. In your perspective, what are the essential things to do soon after any content comes live? What’s your success strategy behind content promotions?
If you haven’t already – get yourself a checklist to work through, processes are key. You can’t scale without them.
The exact content promotion steps will change depending on your niche and resources you have access to.
In general, this will include things like:
- Emailing new posts to your subscribers
- Sharing to all your social networks multiple times
- Submitting your post to niche bookmarking platforms
- Promoting your post via Quora answers
- Using content promotion platforms like Quuu Promote
(Note: If you need more ideas, check out our guide on how to promote a blog over at Blogging Wizard.)
These are all pretty standard tactics, but successful content promotion should start at the content planning phase. Your strategy is critical.
For example, I wrote an article for one of my sites, and during the writing phase, I reached out to contacts in one of my networking groups and asked them all to send relevant resources to link to.
When the post went live, I had a bunch of people I could email to help with promotion. The ‘goodwill’ I created with this approach helped me earn a bunch of extra backlinks.
So, when you’re planning your promotional checklist, first ask yourself – what can I do right now to create goodwill in my niche and within my networking groups that may help in the future?
Go out of your way to help people, and you’ll be able to get help from those people in the future once you need it. Always give more than you get.
#8. Do you believe in updating your old or existing articles? How often you do and do you have any strategy to make it more fruitful?
Yes. Updating content is critical.
Even if you update your content in a basic fashion, it’s important. For example – sometimes, information becomes outdated, and links break, etc. And sometimes products in money posts are removed from the market. This has happened a lot recently for those who promote Amazon products.
And, as your audience grows, you’ll find that a lot of your readers haven’t seen your older content. Some of those old posts maybe some of your best.
That’s why I update and republish my pillar content every so often. As a result, I get what is effectively a new piece of content to share with my audience and another opportunity to earn backlinks.
Google doesn’t reward fresh content as much as it once did so I’ve been doing this a bit less recently, but in general, I have a bi-yearly update cycle.
December is typically a quiet month, so I prioritize content for updates early that month and work on content as needed. Then, on January 1st, my editor and I begin the process of working through content and updating what needs to be updated.
As part of this process, I will sometimes delete underperforming content and redirect the URL to the next most relevant article. I change the criteria for this every so often, but generally, if the post gets no search traffic and has no links, I’ll consider removing it.
However, it’s important not to be too hasty when removing content. Sometimes all a blog post needs is a quick bit of on-page SEO work and a nudge from a few well placed internal links to get on Google’s radar.
That’s if it was on Google’s radar at all. Here’s what I mean:
Generally, Blogging Wizard articles are indexed by Google within 30-60 minutes, but one of our posts just wasn’t picked up at all, even after 2-3 weeks.
In this case, I made a few tweaks to the post and republished it as a new post. It was indexed within 60 minutes and now gets around 200 visitors/day.
As a result, I now check posts are indexed before removing them. I get the impression this was an isolated incident, but why take the chance?
Another recent change to my process is the addition of a tool called Hexometer. It does a lot of different checks on my websites. One of the main ones is to check for broken links. This is great for ensuring UX kept in tip-top shape.
#9. How important is link building for you? What are your critical link building techniques?
Link building is important, and I definitely don’t spend enough time on it. That’s a side effect of working on a few too many projects.
But I can share what’s working well for me:
- Link earning – publishing extremely in-depth content on a variety of high-traffic topics is working extremely well. I’ve got 3-4-year-old articles that I’ve updated every so often, and some of them still bring in 5-10 links a month.
- My network – it’s difficult to grow on your own. I try to create as much ‘goodwill’ in the market place by helping out others and linking to trusted contacts. This often yields links in return.
- Guest blogging – Contributing to other publications is something I don’t do as much as I’d like to, but it still works, and it’s a great way to build my brand + promote my content.
- HARO (HelpAReporterOut.com) – There are journalists all over the globe that need experts or those who have certain experiences to contribute to their content. This platform makes it easy for you to respond to their queries.
#10. Do you have something to advice affiliate marketers or bloggers in growing their ‘organic’ traffic?
You’ll need to create content better than your competitors, but that doesn’t mean longer content. The key is to satisfy search intent.
Link building is also super important. Links are still the currency of the web.
But don’t neglect content optimization. Content hubs with solid internal linking can work wonders.
Just don’t forget the most important factor – time. Small niche sites with hardly any links can do relatively well if you give them enough time.
Every time you make a change to your site, earn new links, publish new content, etc. – this all takes Google time to evaluate. In the case of content, the more established your website is, the less time it’ll take to get traffic from your new content.
For example, my relatively new guitar blog, Tone Island, can rank reasonably well for long-tail keywords, but it’ll take at least a month for content to attract traffic (sometimes longer).
For Blogging Wizard, which has thousands of referring domains, we can add a few internal links to existing posts and rank some content in the top 3 within a week or so.
And that’s without any external links.
What you’ve got to understand is that Google is trying to figure out whether or not it should recommend your site out of an ocean of other sites. It takes time for this process to happen.
The more content you publish, the more links you earn, the more you build your brand, the better your content, etc. The more likely it will be to trust your site.
#11. List some of the top must-to-have tools in your blogging toolkit.
There are a lot of tools that I use, but here are some of the tools I like the most:
- Sendible–I run around 10 websites right now, so that means I’ve got plenty of social accounts. Sendible makes it easy to monitor replies to social posts, schedule updates, and more.
- BlogVault – Most backup plugins slow down your site while running backups. And for larger sites, they take a long time to run. BlogVault runs backups on their servers and only backup changes, so performance impact is minimal. And they have malware scanning & removal as well.
- SEMrush–The best all-in-one SEO and content marketing tool I’ve tested.
- Ahrefs – I’ve been trying to condense the number of tools I’m using, but there are a few features within Ahrefs that SEMrush doesn’t have yet.
- SERanking – One of the best-dedicated rank tracking tools I’ve tested.
#12. Any three common mistakes that most of the bloggers make & you wanted to address it here?
Sure thing. There are plenty, but the biggest is setting expectations early on.
Most people look at the income reports of successful bloggers and forget that these folks are earning crazy amounts of money because they have been working at it for years.
Sure, some bloggers can build a successful blog within two years, but usually, that’s because they have 10+ years’ experience in marketing + building profitable sites.
If you’re starting from scratch, be prepared to learn fast and work hard but give yourself enough time before throwing in the towel. Most people throw in the towel far too soon.
Now, there are plenty of strategic elements that go into creating a successful blog, but the most important aspect is simply not quitting.
Another common mistake I see is focusing too much time on checking analytics and not enough time on blogging. I’ve done this myself too. All the time you’re spending looking at analytics obsessively is time you could be spending growing your blog.
And it’s worth mentioning how some focus too much on the money. I get it. Money is usually a primary motivator for starting a blog, but the truth is that you can easily lose motivation when focusing on nothing but money.
So when you decide on what niche to blog about, consider:
- What you know
- What you love
- What you can earn money from
The best niche for you will sit somewhere in between these.
#13. Share your thoughts about Guest Blogging these days. Do you contribute content to other blogs, and how?
I used to write a lot of guest posts but not so much anymore given the demands on my time.
I’ve been doing this for years now, so I usually rely more on invites, so I don’t have to pitch anyone.
But, the best way to pitch someone on a guest post is to get to know them first. Networking is so damn important for this – it’s crazy.
Most people just fire out endless garbage spam emails and end up with conversion rates of less than 1%. That’s mainly because they can’t write good emails.
If you want to go down that route, you can easily write a better email than 95% of people by following this basic formula:
- Personalize – At a basic level, you at least need to know who you are emailing. “Hey Team” doesn’t cut it.
- Help – Do something to help them out without asking anything in return. An easy example is sharing their content or linking to it.
- Ask – Let them know exactly what you’re asking for (e.g. I’d love to write an article for your readers).
- Help again – Let them know what you’ll do for them if they agree. This could be anything from promoting the post to your thousands of email subscribers to featuring it in guest posts on other sites.
- Sign off – Let them know who you are. Sending outreach from no-name Gmail accounts with no email signature is not the way to build relationships.
(Note: If you’re interested, my article on ‘framework outreach’ explains this process better.)
This approach works best when you take time out to do some pre-outreach instead. Find the decision-makers, subscribe to their list, engage with them and get to know them.
Make friends, and you’ll be able to develop a win-win relationship.
#14. How do you communicate with your blogging friends or build a network, other than email platform?
Facebook, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn and Slack mainly.
That said, overall, I prefer email to social media wherever possible.
#15. Have you ever been to Traffic Crow blog? What’s your opinion about it?
I’ve visited it a few times in the past. You’re doing a great job. Plenty of useful articles and you do a great job, especially with product comparisons!
I hope you must be excited about checking out this interview with Adam Connell. Undoubtedly, he has offered more helpful tips, ideas and advices from his own experience in blogging and online promotions. Sure, those insights will help you at some of the time when you come across the same scenarios. Keep learning from and motivated by the industry experts through these kinds of interviews and round-ups. Thanks!