First Year of Blogging is a series of interviews with top bloggers around the globe in various niche markets. As the title suggests these interviews looks back on the blogger’s first year experience and what it was like, what they went through and what advice they can offer new bloggers and bloggers in their first year of blogging.
I’m happy to inform that we now have a sub-reddit for “First Year of Blogging” on Reddit where I will be uploading all the interviews.
Who Is Chris Lee?
My name’s Chris Lee and I work full-time online running my Adsense authority sites. I run a very high traffic site as well as a few others and I spend my days working on those as well as my blog, RankXL.
I want businesses to see me as just a normal guy who’s good at SEO. I didn’t invent Facebook or a super big startup or anything. I’m just a normal guy who spends a ridiculous amount of time studying SEO, haha.
1. When did you start blogging? And what was your primary reason to blog?
I actually only started my blog 6 months ago in January of 2015. I started it more as a New Year’s resolution than anything else.
I’ve been working full-time online with my niche sites since 2013. But my income always hovered around $3k-$5k/month.
Nothing was really growing, and it seemed that once I got to $100/day, I slacked off big time.
As you might know already, Adsense is extremely passive. You have no deadlines to meet, and work doesn’t necessary have to be done in order to maintain your income levels.
So I wanted to start 2015 with a goal of getting to my first $10k/month and the blog was set up more as a diary more than anything else.
2. What are the top three struggles you went through with your blog?
I wouldn’t really say anything was a struggle. Everything has been a joy to work on with RankXL.
Out of all my sites, RankXL probably has the highest engagement rates. I get more comments, emails, and fans from it than all of my niche sites.
It’s been really great to get to meet people and help them out with their projects.
If I had to name one struggle, it would probably be learning about all the moving parts of a blog, the biggest thing being email.
As someone who normally just focused on building high traffic and making money off Adsense, I wasn’t very experienced with email autoresponders.
And as you know, it’s pretty important to get right if you want the blog to grow.
So learning everything there and optimizing conversion rates on the blog was a big learning curve for me.
Other than that, I would say the only other challenge has been pressure to write good content. Unlike my niche sites, with RankXL every post I publish has my name on it. I have to make sure that everything I write is the highest quality.
3. How did you manage to overcome the above mentioned obstacles/struggles?
To be honest, just reading and doing.
Everything you need to know is out there already. Experts are all into content marketing these days. They publish AMAZING stuff about how to grow your blog.
I just read that stuff and implemented it on my site.
Also, I followed other bloggers and saw what they’re systems were. How were they sending emails? How often? What were they sending about? What software did they use?
I sucked at email marketing when I first started the blog. Now, I feel like I know a ton. The reason I was able to catch everything on so quickly is because I was taking action at the same time.
I wasn’t just reading and memorizing theory. I was reading and immediately implementing it on my blog.
4. What was your return on investment like during the first year?
Well, it’s only been 6 months so far but the return has been priceless.
The only costs for the blog are Aweber, hosting, and domain.
The biggest thing I’ve gained from starting the blog is relationships.
Having a popular blog opens a lot of doors. It’s easier to form relationships and people find you instead of the other way around.
The people I’ve been able to meet and work with, even in this short amount of time I’ve been blogging, has been amazing.
5. What would you like to say to the those bloggers who are just starting off or in their first year of blogging?
The most important thing is to write what you know about. The biggest difference between my content on RankXL and my content on my niche sites is that with RankXL, I’m writing off the top of my head.
Of course, research does go into each post to find sources and additional information, but the majority of content is about stuff I know about.
You can’t teach something if you don’t know anything about it.
That makes writing more enjoyable, and the quality of your posts will be so much better as well.
Second, make each post you write extremely detailed. Don’t write generic posts like 10 Ways To Get More Email Subscribers. Instead, pick one of those ways and go super deep into it. Posts like that do well, generic posts don’t.
Third, go targeted with your blog. Don’t be the average guy at everything.
Be awesome at one thing and own the niche.
Last, promote your blog. Build links that will drive traffic. Don’t focus on SEO and search visitors. That will come later.
My biggest skill is SEO. BUT… when I first started the blog, I wasn’t focused on increasing my rankings for specific keywords. I was focused on building links that would drive traffic.
6. Are there any tools that you recommend bloggers use during their first year?
I know most people don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a new blog that gets 10 visitors per day and makes $0/month.
So go free in the beginning. Get your domain and hosting, obviously. But for other tools, use free ones.
Use MailChimp to collect emails.
They allow 2000 subscribers for free. It’s going to take you awhile to get to your first 2000 subscribers, so use MailChimp until you do.
Then, you can move over to a different autoresponder if you like.
Another tool is SumoMe. They have a bunch of list building plugins that are free to use. Just installing SumoMe and collecting emails into your MailChimp account is a great way to get started at minimum cost.
7. What is your position now as a blogger? (Revenue, Growth, Opportunities blogging has provided)
The biggest opportunities with starting the blog has been the relationships.
Being able to connect with other bloggers and professionals in the space doing similar things is a priceless outcome of growing a popular blog.
It’s too early at this stage to say I have any sort of position as a blogger. I still have a lot of growing and promotion to do to get to the level of other bloggers you’ve interviewed.
8. Finally, was it worth the ride?
Definitely. I only wish I had started sooner.
This brings us to the end of the interview.
You can reach Chris on various social platforms.
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/rankxl
I hope you learn something from Chris experience during his first year as a blogger. I know blogging can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes you want to quit.
Its moments like these that you need to be inspired and see the opportunities that lie ahead of you and push forward.
Do you know other bloggers whom you think should be interviewed as part of this series? Leave me a comment with a name and I will reach out to the blogger.