An active participant across the blogosphere, ZK has earned a loyal following and steady traffic the hard way: he jumped in and taught himself everything he needed to know. By forging strong relationships and putting in the daily work that it takes to publish a blog readers appreciate, he now has a high-performing site to show for it.
Tell us about how you got started blogging. When and why did you start?
I started blogging accidentally, I happened to read a magazine titled “Entrepreneur” in 2008 which someone had left in the subway. The magazine had an interview with John Chow, who said that he made $40,000 a month from his blog. That was the trigger that started my curiosity about blogging. I check out his blog and the same day booked a domain but did not know how to start the blog! 🙂
For the next 3 months I studied a few blogs and tried to chalk up a plan about the type of content that I would post on my blog. I hired a designer to set up my blog and posted my first post. After that I’ve never stopped.
When did things start to take off for you? Tell us about what happened.
I posted almost every second day for the next 2 – 3 months without any major traffic. Then I hosted a contest after about three months of blogging. The contest went viral for some reason and my blog was at number one position on Google for “blog contests.” That sparked a lot of traffic on the blog, and as other bloggers started to write about the contest, that gave me some valuable backlinks and promotion.
My first dollar came from the blog after about six tireless months of blogging and about 150 posts. Phew! The little money was a relief 🙂 It restored the faith that I could make money from blogging. It was still going to be a tough journey ahead, but I was prepared for it.
In the beginning, what was most difficult about publishing a blog?
Blogging was never easy for me, I never got the traffic nor the income that a lot of new bloggers got when they started, I just kept the faith and kept blogging without worrying about the traffic or money. Everything was tough, churning out regular content to getting traffic to finding designers to keep tweaking the blog…all of it was tough. I knew that I had to work hard on content that people would find valuable and at the same time build trust with my readers.
The toughest part when you start blogging is fighting with your inner voice– Will I make money blogging? Should I quit blogging? Its a waste of time. I’ll never make any money with this.You’ll start making money and getting traffic the day you have faith in your blog and what you’re doing. Fight the fears and keep the faith.
Now that your blog is a popular site, what are your challenges today?
The challenge is the same– there is’nt anything different. I still struggle to publish great content, I still work hard to get traffic and build trust. As long as you blog these will be the toughest challenges you’ll have to work every day. Of course the scale would differ. Today I have to push myself a lot harder to publish great content and work towards increasing the income from the blog. I cannot afford to procrastinate, else the quality of the blog will suffer bringing in less traffic.
Fighting Google has been another challenge. With their latest Penguin and Panda updates things have been not been great for bloggers and website owners. Organic traffic that was once easy is getting tough.
About how much time do you spend working on your blog on an average day or week?
I spend more than 4 hours on my blog every day…writing content, promoting content, building relationships with bloggers, commenting , guest posting on other blogs, building relations with my community on social networks and with my newsletter base and much more…it’s not going to work if you’re not going to work. There is no free lunch.
What advice would you give to a blogger who’s struggling to figure out how to gain a loyal audience and increase traffic?
Keep the faith and fight your fears. I did not have any follower for three months and never made any money from blogging for the first six months. Concentrate on building awesome content for the first six months on your site. Traffic and money will automatically follow…keep the faith 🙂
Build relationships with other bloggers in your niche, network with them. Networking will help you gain traffic and readership. When I started blogging I networked with top bloggers like John Chow and Yaro. You can see my networking posts with John Chow, Yaro and other bloggers:
Networking with bloggers helped me get visibility and trust on their blogs:
And some awesome media mentions
In addition to your relationship building, what other ways do you use to actively promote your blog?
I started promoting my blogs by commenting aggressively on the top 3 – 4 blogs in my niche, which gave me the initial traffic and started building trust in the community. I then moved to comment on more blogs within the same niche as my blog. Blog commenting has worked very well for me to get a targeted audience to my blog. I recently started sharing content on bizsugar, myblogguest and other similar networks that have a loyal following.
Thanks, ZK! Readers, if you have any questions for ZK, please ask in the comments below…