Finally, I am featuring Adam Connell from Blogging Wizard on my Blogger Interview Series. It was almost a month, I published the last interview of Anil Agarwal. In between, I got very busy in life and personal priorities. I have also started focusing on YouTube and spend almost 100% of my blogging time in creating videos. You can check my YouTube channel and share your feedback & suggestions if any.
Anyway, last week I have published a massive roundup post on Time Management Tips. And this week I am back with another awesome, inspirational, motivational blogging journey with lots of useful tips & tricks. Let’s explore the huge interview of Adam Connell from Blogging Wizard.
Adam is one of the expert guys in this niche who shared some cool tips to grow your email list and how to avoid a lot of mistakes from his own experience. Let’s not waste too much time and get jump into the detailed answers whatever I have asked in this interview.
Hello Adam, it’s a huge honor to host you on my blog. Could you please introduce yourself to my readers?
Hey Santanu, thanks for having me on your blog today.
I’m a UK-based content strategist with a background in SEO and email marketing.
My marketing background comes from being an operations manager at a marketing agency – working closely with SEO, content marketing & web development clients.
How did you get into blogging?
The odd thing about how I got started was that I never intended to start a blog.
I built my first website in Dreamweaver when I was 12. Later when I was in college, I launched a free online record label to promote music my friends and I were making.
At first, I built a website with Dreamweaver for the label. Then, I rebuilt it several more times. The process of updating it was extremely long-winded and I needed something that simplified things.
That’s when I found WordPress – it was clearly focused on blogging at the time, but I saw the potential in its ability to simplify the website building process.
So, I found a free theme and rebuilt the website in WordPress. While I never initially intended to use the blogging functionality, it seemed like a better way to share news about our releases – so I gave it a try.
We later went on to publish 60+ releases from artists all over the world and had millions of downloads on our music.
And while the project never made any money (our music was released for free), it taught me the power of free content.
It was this experience that encouraged me to start a blog.
Please tell us about your blogs & your team.
I’m juggling quite a few blogs at the moment:
- Blogging Wizard – I started this blog in 2012 to share what I was learning while working with SEO and content marketing clients. It’s focused entirely on helping bloggers get started.
- WP Superstars – This blog is 100% focused on WordPress. I started this to have a platform to cover general WordPress tips & tutorials that weren’t focused on bloggers. It’s always been more of a side-project, so I was totally surprised when we hit 50K+ visitors/month.
- Funnel Overload – This is one of my newer sites and it’s focused more on building sales funnels & driving traffic to them.
- Tone Island – Guitar is a big hobby of mine and I’m an amateur guitar & amp collector. So, I occasionally write about them on this blog.
- AdamConnell.me – This is my personal blog. It’s not too active at the moment – I publish content only when inspiration strikes. It’s still focused on marketing, but I’ve simplified the content publication process for this site so I can focus more on what I write.
As for my team, I was able to hire my girlfriend who is now my editor & helps out with social media management. I’ve got a VA, and a bunch of great writers that I work with.
I try to keep everything as lean as possible, and I outsource what I can. For example, I use Design Pickle for most of my design work. Infographics are handled by a designer via PeoplePerHour.
I don’t actually track how many hours I work – I find it adds an unnecessary level of internal pressure and I work better without that.
Instead, I simply work as long as I need to get my work done. Although I do set myself limits on how often I work in one stretch before having a break (usually short breaks every 30 minutes), and I try to avoid working past 5 pm to help with that work-life balance.
That said, it all comes down to what I need to do at the time, and how important it is. Or whenever creativity strikes.
The great thing about blogging is that it never really feels like work. And that’s why I used to grind my way through growing Blogging Wizard in the early days.
Back when I launched the site, I was working at a marketing agency. Together with time at work, and the commute – I’d be out of the house for 11 hours. I’d work on my site when I got back home in the evenings. And I’d work all weekend too.
While I was able to grow Blogging Wizard faster, I seriously wrecked my health in the process. The “hustle” mentality has its downsides for sure – I’ll never go back to that. The important thing is to ensure you enjoy what you do.
There are quite a few ways to do this. Here are a few of the ways I approach content planning:
- Keyword research – If you want to get long-term traffic, you’ll need to create content people are searching for. David Hartshorne published a detailed guide on Blogging Wizard that explains how the process works. It pretty much comes down to this: find high traffic keywords in your niche and publish content on those keywords (it’ll need to satisfy searcher intent, of course)
- Quora – Answering direct questions is a great way to publish content. Quora is incredible because it’s simply a database of questions.
- Reddit & other communities – Online communities sometimes give you ideas for topics that won’t get much search traffic now, but it’s highly likely they’ll gain popularity in the future.
- Ask your audience – Some of the best topic ideas will come from your audience, but you have to ask them. An easy way to do this is to add an email to your automation sequence that invites subscribers to fill in a survey.
Generally speaking, yes, 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts.
But, when it comes to promoting your blog, you have to experiment without considering any results: effort type bias.
There are specific tactics that typically provide much better results and other tactics (or even platforms) which are often thought to not provide very good results.
So, my advice here is to forget what others are telling you. Try every promotional tactic at least once for yourself (because every niche is different).
If something doesn’t work, try to understand why it doesn’t work – don’t just leap to a conclusion that it’s a waste of time. Promotional tactics are heavily nuanced. And some tactics take a while to deliver results.
In terms of the promotional tactics I use, there are a number of them:
- Influencer outreach/marketing
- Email marketing
- Guest blogging
- Social media platforms (Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Pinterest, etc.)
- Social aggregators such as Flipboard
- Niche social bookmarking sites such as GrowthHackers
- Platforms such as Zest.is (marketing only), Quuu Promote, and Triberr
- Quora answers
- Paid traffic such as Facebook Ads
This isn’t an exhaustive list, just some of the main ones.
I found there are a couple of articles on your blog about finding your target audience. Why we must build our own audience?
Almost every blog needs an audience in order to give it purpose. And, of course, to enable the blog to be sustainable from a financial perspective (unless it’s purely a hobby/journal style blog.)
To build an audience, we need to understand the audience we want to attract – otherwise we will have no clue what content to create.
How a beginner can start with building an audience (email list, Facebook group, etc).
Before you can start building an audience, you need to understand your audience first. And to be clear: this is about more than simply finding a niche.
You need to be able to answer this: I help _______ to ______.
This is explained better in my article on how to choose a niche, but it’s better to think of a type of person that will find value in the content you publish on your blog.
When combined with your chosen niche, this acts as a sort of qualifier to help you understand how to position your blog.
So, let’s take marketing as an example. Marketing isn’t really a niche – it’s not specific enough. We could get more specific and go for something like social media marketing.
Or, we could focus on a specific type of person that would want to learn the topic. Let’s say an author. We’d then say: I help authors to market their books.
We could also approach this from a slightly different direction in the B2B space and pick a business type. For example, storage businesses.
… Once you have a clear understanding of who you’re trying to reach, you can craft content tailored for them.
And the great thing about this is that while you’re limiting your audience, you’re venturing into mostly uncontested waters. It’s the difference between 1000s of marketing blogs vying for the same attention, and only competing with a handful.
You can then create content that specifically addresses your target audience in headlines. E.g. “The Blogger’s Guide To Landing Page Optimization” or “The Agency Marketer’s Guide To Link Building”.
Once you’ve got this step right, you can then figure out exactly where your target audience hangs out online.
Sure, you’ll need to leverage email marketing, guest blogging, Facebook groups, niche social networking sites, etc – but knowing where your audience is will allow you to know where to focus your efforts.
What are the common mistakes people do while building a list?
There are quite a few. Here are some of the mistakes I see most often:
- Not disclosing what people are signing up for – I won’t get into GDPR here but if you’re offering an incentive, people need to know upfront that they’ll also get email updates from you.
- Adding subscribers who haven’t consented to receive emails – I get this too often from LinkedIn contacts especially, who believe that it’s somehow a good idea to import LinkedIn contacts and start blasting emails to them that they haven’t signed up for. It’s one of the quickest ways to annoy people.
- Relying on sidebar opt-in forms – I’m not saying you shouldn’t have opt-in forms in your sidebar, but they’re typically the lowest converting place for forms. Definitely explore other options!
- Not having a welcome email – Sending a welcome email sets a good first impression. Use it to let them know what to expect and whitelist your email. It’s a good place to include a link to download your incentive (or lead magnet).
- Not offering an incentive to encourage people to sign up – The “free updates” offering isn’t compelling enough to convert. Try offering something like a checklist, template, or coupon – just be sure to disclose that people are also joining your email list.
- Making your incentive insanely difficult to download – If you offer an incentive to get email subscribers, make it easy to download. If someone has to email you to figure it out, you need to rethink your approach. Consider adding the link to both your welcome email & confirmation page.
- Not using conversion-focused landing pages – When I say landing pages, I’m talking about something without navigation or distractions. One page with one goal – to convert. I threw together a quick landing page to promote one of my lead magnets for Funnel Overload and it converts at 30% (that’s without split testing). And the good news is you don’t need expensive SaaS software to build & test landing pages – there are plenty of plugins available that make it easy to create landing pages with WordPress.
Email List Vs Chatbot Vs Push Notifications – which one is best & why?
The best marketing channels should always be determined by your goals, or specifically, your “north star” metric. Like the answer to most marketing questions, the answer is: it depends.
For example, with a post where the goal is to generate revenue with affiliate links, I’d generally exclude most of these and keep the focus on a singular goal. Generally, the more options you give people, the more chance they’ll take none of those options.
Here are a few specific thoughts:
- Building an email list – Typically, you have the most control over an email list, and it’s more personal.
- Push notifications – While these will generally result in higher open rates & click-throughs, this technology still hasn’t matured yet. And, if someone resets their computer, switches browsers – you’ve lost them. This isn’t a reason to not use push notifications, just something to be aware of.
- Chatbots – As a user, I find these unnecessary to add to content most of the time (there are exceptions). The best use of chatbots will typically be on “signpost” style pages like homepages, product pages, service pages, pricing pages, etc. When used in the right way, these can be highly effective.
Many newbies think, “Why people will join my list?” Could you please help to get the answer?
As your audience grows, people will naturally want to get updates from you. And in some ways, joining an email list is very convenient.
If you don’t have an email list, you could be missing out on an opportunity to build a decent traffic (and revenue) stream for your blog.
And if you have a good incentive (or lead magnet) in place, people will be more inclined to join your email list.
How website design impact conversion? What measures one must take?
The design of your website impacts conversions in several ways. One of these ways is simply down to the style of your website.
For example, if you offer web design services and your website looks dated – potential clients may come to the conclusion that you’re not a good fit, purely because of the design of your website.
In a similar way, if you write about technology (or any other fast-paced niche) and your website looks like it was built in 2004, readers may find it difficult to trust that the information you publish is up to date.
Aside from the overall design style, there are other factors that should be considered:
- Your offer and how it’s presented – it’s got to be clear, compelling, honest, and appeal to the right people
- Placement of your CTA’s (calls to action) – your CTA’s need to stand out – always ensure you use an eye-catching color that you don’t use for the rest of the design.
- Use of trust indicators – Real accreditations, testimonials and other forms of social proof are extremely important.
- Page load times – A slow website will cost you money in the long-run.
- Consider user experience factors – Make the user experience as good as possible. Be sure to fix anything broken like forms/links.
- Attention to detail – Small details matter. They all impact trust, even things like typos.
This is a huge area to explore, far more than I can explain here, but hopefully, the above ideas will prove useful.
When you have a good follower base, how do you make sure they are engaged enough?
A big part of this comes back to the content you publish, and the frequency at which you publish.
Your content has to be on topics your audience wants to learn about or interesting enough to grab their attention. You need to use compelling headlines and present information in an engaging way.
In terms of frequency, you’ll see some people saying how you need to publish content daily. Others will tell you to publish less & promote more.
But, the reality is that what’s right for them, isn’t always right for you. Balance is key. If you’re publishing lengthy content, you’ll naturally want to make sure it gets as much traction as possible – in this case, you’ll want to spend more time promoting it.
However, if you’re publishing shorter content, you’ll need to publish more of it.
Also, consider the user experience of whatever content you create. Written content should be formatted to make it easier to read & digest.
Triggering Exit intent popup is very effective. But isn’t it annoying for the users too? What is your take on this and how one can make sure to balance both?
Anything that interrupts the user experience could be considered as annoying to some people. Although it’s far less annoying than immediately displaying a popup or some other lead generation tactics.
And there are other ways to minimize the annoyance. For example, you can set it to only display again after so many days have passed. So instead of it appearing every time, visitors won’t see it for another 30 days, for example.
Here’s another way to think about it:
In some respects it’s akin to advertising – just because people find it annoying, many sites simply can’t remove advertising because it’s a significant revenue stream. If they do, people will have no free content to consume.
It can be similar for content creators and building an email list – that revenue stream is what helps to ensure more free content is published.
In some cases, if that revenue stream is taken away, the content people want to consume will go away as well.
That said, I do prefer to use in-content opt-in forms rather than exit-intent popovers. Although, that takes far more effort because it requires the creation of a lot of extra content – checklists/templates/guides, etc. That all has a cost.
How can we leverage our old blog posts to increase our email list? Any tips from your experience?
I usually don’t try to use old content to build my email list, but there are a few options to consider:
- Expand & update your old content. You’ll need to add a content upgrade (checklist/template) in the process. You’ll need to republish your content and promote it again – in the process you’ll likely improve your rankings in Google, and you’ll get more email subscribers from the content upgrade.
- Combine several blog posts into a larger guide & offer it as an incentive for new subscribers. You’ll likely need to update your content, but if you can find a few blog posts on a similar topic, you can quickly put together a good incentive to grow your email list.
What is your take on the recent Google Core Algorithm Update?
The recent core update was strange. I’ve seen a lot of nonsensical ranking changes.
For example, terrible content lacking backlinks outranking high-quality content with a great backlink profile.
I’ve seen a lot of people in the industry talk about how this is all to do with E-A-T, but when some of those articles that are ranking higher have no traceable author, it leads me to question a lot of what people are saying about this update.
And this is partly the reason I haven’t written about this update – whatever I could say has no basis in fact – exactly the same as a lot of what people are saying.
So, while this is typically generic advice, it’s the safest way to go: keep improving your content, publishing new content, marketing your content, and improving the user experience on your site.
But most importantly – grow your brand. While growing a brand isn’t typical SEO advice, it will benefit your website in terms of search traffic, and enable you to leverage other channels (not just organic search).
I’d like to leave you with one idea in particular:
The web is full of clickbait-style headlines that drive traffic to content that fails to live up to the hype.
Instead of following this route, I’d recommend thinking of the relationship between headlines & content in this way:
Your headline is a promise. And your content needs to deliver on that promise.
Don’t be the one that over hypes headlines just for clicks. It just disappoints people and negatively impacts brand reputation.
Conclusion: Interview of Adam Connell
So, I am sure you have learned something new after reading this awesome interview with Adam Connell. Feel free to write a comment below, ask any question in your mind so that Adam can help you to get the answer. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter or Join My Facebook Group, so that you can get regular updates from my blog & life.