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Blogger Interview: Brian Hawkins of Hot Blog Tips

Brian, give us some background on yourself and how you got started with Hot Blog Tips. Who or what got you interested in blogging and was it your first blog?

Brian from Hot Blog TipsJust last week I wrote a piece reflecting on life before blogging and haven’t decided if I’ll make it public yet but it really made me realize just how long it’s been. I started online in 1998 with an old 286, 20mb hard drive, 5.25″ floppy drive and it ran on Windows 3.0. The old timers here will know what I’m talking about.

It took all of about six months of AOL’s 26k dialup connection and instant chat to know I needed a website. I setup a GeoCities site and haven’t looked back since. I’ve had forums, safelists and dozens of websites – most were blogs. Several were what I call “real blogs”. Others were niche or AdSense sites using the blog format. I have registered over two hundred domains in the past and I think I’m down to twenty or thirty now.

Hot Blog Tips is not my first blog. My first blog was Extreme Ezine, a website and Ezine I started and changed to blog format once blogging began getting popular. I eventually sold that site and started several other blogs before Hot Blog Tips.

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Hot Blog Tips and SEO

You started Hot Blog Tips a few years ago and at some point you turned it over to someone else – can you share any of that story? What made you decide to come back and how’s it going so far?

Umm, that’s a long story. lol I registered the domain Hot Blog Tips dot com because I knew it was a valuable domain but I had more on my plate than I could handle. I was running ten or twelve websites, including a pretty popular membership site at the time so I decided I’d “flip” it. I setup a blog, got it started with a little traffic and put it up for sale. Within an hour, it seemed, I had an offer to take it over and he’d pay when he could. I think he had too much on his plate too and a little over a year later I ended up with the blog again. It went several months with no updates until I finally deleted everything and just parked the domain. It wasn’t until August this year that I decided I wanted to get it back online and run it myself. I was missing being a blogger and missing old friends.
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Do you do any keyword research or SEO before you write blog posts? What’s your strategy on optimizing your content for the search engines?

To be honest, when I started blogging years ago I had no idea what keyword research was. When I left blogging for internet marketing and niche site building, I joined The Keyword Academy for about a year and learned a lot there.

Today, on my blog, I do a little keyword research but I don’t let keyword research get in the way of what I want to blog about. I know that’s not how the big boys say the game is to be played but I want content to be my priority. So what I do is…

  • Determine the subject
  • Outline the post
  • Write my draft

Now I look for possible keywords, do the research and determine what my focus keyword phrase will be and which keywords to include in the content. That’s when I edit the title, permalink , headings and work on keyword density. I’ve found that the WordPress training and the SEO by Yoast plugin is very helpful with this.

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I know you’re part of the CommentLuv community (like me) and you use the CommentLuv plugin on your blog. How did you come to the conclusion that CommentLuv was right for you? Did you try other plugins like Disqus or Livefyre?
Let’s chat about social media for a bit. Outside of your blog, what is your favorite social network and which platform sends the most traffic to your blog?

Like you Ileane, I’m not against Disqus or Livefyre, but I’m not crazy about using third party commenting platforms. As you recently mentioned, CommentLuv is so much more. It improves on the WordPress system. I’ve been using CommentLuv for years and I knew I had to have the Premium version when Andy released his plans.

I love social networking. I have a Facebook page and I joined Google+ but my favorite network has to be Twitter. I try to follow only sociable people and don’t worry about the numbers.

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With so many changes happening on Facebook, I can never keep up with all the factors that impact EdgeRank, Top Stories and the rest of it., What are some tips that you can share about using Facebook that can help those of us who are Facebook challenged (like me).

I’m right there with you on Facebook Ileane, a little Facebook challenged myself. It seems they are trying to keep up with Google when it comes to sudden and unannounced changes.

In an attempt to keep up, I subscribe to sites like Mashable and social news sites like Social Times and the Social Media Examiner.

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What’s next on the horizon for you and your blog? Are you working on any ebooks or other product releases we should be on the lookout for?

Short term plans include things like a couple of contests and working closer with like-minded bloggers. Our newsletter is written by newsletter partners and I’d like that to grow from three or four to a dozen or more.

Long term plans include a multi-author blog that helps bloggers of every level from start to finish. I’d love to pull the resources together that would teach the brand new blogger everything they need to accomplish their goals and help the more advanced bloggers move forward.

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Hot Blog Tips and Advice for Newcomers

In closing do you have any advice for someone who is just getting started with a blog or an online business? Any “hot blog tips” and words of encouragement for newcomers?

My first advice for new bloggers is to determine exactly why they want to blog and write down their goals. Next on the list should be a step by step guideline that will accomplish those goals.

Next I’d say soak up everything they can from experienced bloggers and then find their own path. Following other’s every move never works. We can learn from one another but we need to find our own way.

Last I’d say socialize.

We have some amazing tools at our disposal and many of them allow us to socialize and network with each other with very little effort. The more we get to know each other, the stronger the blogging community becomes and we’re already doing very well.

[box]Brian and his blog, Hot Blog Tips, were recently featured in an article on Blog Engage! Find out more about how your blog can be featured and you can get exposure by signing up for the Blog Engage RSS Syndication Service for your Business![/box]

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I’d like to thank Ms. Ileane for taking the time to interview me and I’d especially like to thank her readers for taking the time to read it. I’m a big fan of Basic Blog Tips and I’m so glad we live in a time, and work within a niche, that blogs like ours can become allies rather than cold competitors.

About 

Welcome! I'm Ileane and this blog was created to help you learn about WordPress blogging, Social Media Optimization, YouTube Tutorials and more. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and be the first to know when I upload a new tutorial.
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82 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Yeah , Brian is a great blogger who have always inspired me to get my desires in the field of blogging . BTW , Thanks for sharing this exclusive interview !

  2. Thank you so much for interviewing me Ileane. It’s truly an honor to be featured on Basic Blog Tips. It’s funny, both you and Crazy Blog Walker said I’m an inspiration but my biggest inspiration has been from following the success of honorable bloggers like yourself; living proof that there’s an opportunity for those willing to help others.

    • Brian, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to the Basic Blog Tips community and you’re welcome to come back anytime and do a guest post if you like. Your advice is very valuable and so is your friendship. Thanks!

  3. When I read interviews like these, I really get a boost of confidence and an urge to move forward. Thanks for the inspiration Brian and Ileane.

  4. Riya

    Interesting interview, Enjoyed reading it…. Bloggers like you and Brian always inspire newbies to perform better, and your valuable articles are just mind blowing.

  5. Great interview with Brian, Ileane!
    So glad to be a new follower of Basic Blog Tips. And, tonight I add Comment Luv to my Blogger blog, thanks to your tutorial.

  6. You are online from the time the computers were very slow and internet used many time in an hour but at that time internet was a strange entity for yes. You are online guru. I have first time started work on 386 but not used internet at that time.

  7. Nice Post,

    No doubt in that if we will work hard and honestly then we will get success in our work but for this we will need to follow these kind of steps which all prove beneficial for us beside that all point are very nice which all you mentioned in this blog post but i like most “”Hot Blog Tips and Advice for Newcomers”” i am sure this option will work for them like magic.

  8. Hi Ileane,

    I didn’t heard about Brian before looking forward to learn more tips through his blog. BTW a good interview and enjoyed reading it. :)

  9. Hey, Brian! Fascinating interview. I also remember the 26K days (and the 52K that followed). My first website I ever did was GeoCities website as well, though I wish I had known more about what I was doing and had more access to the programs to make images for them. I learned pretty fast that MS Paint wasn’t up to the task, but it was another 4 or 5 years before I found GIMP (a program with enough features to be similar to Photoshop but at a price even a caveman could afford — Oh wait…. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that… don’t want all those cavemen to get mad at me like they are at Geico ;) ). I almost wish I had figured out how to make money on a site way back then because my life sure would be different now!

    As to the socializing, I’m definitely working on that. I’ve backed off a little in the last week because I’m also trying to do NaNoWriMo (writing a 50K novel in 30 days), but once November is over, I’ll get back to my schedule and try to find new ways to get more traffic to my site.

  10. Down to earth and realistic. I like that he didn’t say any of those magical stuff that marketers always say….the kind of things that makes a newbie think, “can i ever be like that”. i can see that u’ve had failures as well as successes, done a lot of trial and error and the like, just like everyone else.

    interesting interview…

  11. It was so interesting to read more about Brian! I visit his blog every day and it was extremely interesting for me to find out more about how he manages to do all his marvelous job! So probably it will be great if Brian will take an interview of you, Ileane)))

  12. Nice interview Ileane. Been bumping with Brain all over the place recently (lol) and this interview made me know a bit more of him, which I truly appreciate. I think that he has a good thing going on with his site and its good to know that Yoast Plugin is one of his choices as I have been considering to give it a test drive on one of my sites.

    • Hi DiTesco, I’ve heard good things about the Yoast plugin as well and I think it’s cool that you have so many sites that you can try out these tools and let us know what you think too. Thanks for your comment and sorry for the delayed response.

  13. You are reminding me the time when I was a university student and I do not have internet connection at home. I use to surf at university.Your consistent struggle has paid you a lot.

  14. Danny

    I didn’t know Brian yet, but now I do, and I am glad I do.
    Very interesting story and probably much too learn from him as well.

    And thanks for making me feel young, as I have no clue what “286, 20mb hard drive, 5.25″ floppy drive and it ran on Windows 3.0″ means :) .

  15. Jym

    Great to read the stories of others, and I love Brian’s style. Haven’t been over at Hot Blog Tips enough, there’s so many cool bloggers with great value to offer it’s hard to give all of them the time I’d like to.

    Love your interview style Ileane, you bring a real smooooth approach to letting people share what their about.

    Thanks both of you for sharing. Good to know your background Brian. Seems the Hot Blog Tips was meant to be!

  16. Hi Ileane, Brian is one of our newest customers of the Blog Engage business plus program and I’ve been very happy with the quality of both his content and website design. As you know we are all about helping others that at least put the effort in to help their selves. Brian is one of these bloggers that’s going over the top to impress and I have respect for that.

      • The part I was really referring to was:

        blogs like ours can become allies rather than cold competitors..

        ..this needs to become part of our way of thinking and not just for blogging but for other things in life as well :idea:

        • I agree Caleb, I’ve had many niche blogs and some niches are all but impossible for collaboration. You have to find niches that compliment your area and hope that isn’t too restrictive. Here we can almost walk up and sit down next to a competitor while they’re working and have a cup of tea while we help each other’s business. I love that!

  17. Good deal to both of you, and it’s about time Brian got another interview somewhere. Course, I’m one of those blogging partners, and I’m with him, with more writers it could really be great. Of course I love that one line near the end; socialize!

  18. I don’t do the keyword research I should before I write blog posts. It is nice to know that other bloggers don’t let keyword research be the sole dictator of blog topics!

    • Hi Mindy, I take a few minutes with the research but don’t let it dictate the content quality. If nothing fits as far as a major keyword phrase, so be it, I’d rather have the message than the search traffic than has a much higher bounce rate than subscriber and referral traffic. Hummm, did you just help me find something else to blog about? lol

  19. SEO Schweiz

    This interview expressed a lot of basic things about blogging which could be a great lesson for us. I highly appreciate his statement in a sense that we must emphasize the content rich pages as we know content is the king. We look forward to any further interview like this in next time.

  20. Hi there Ileane and Brian,

    Nice interview and so good to learn how Brian started and grew and reorganized and grew some more. Sounds like he is well equipped to teach us newbies how to do the ‘blog’ thing. I am at heart a writer and hate trying to figure out the technical side of things.

    My dream is to have someone go through my site and fix everything that is wrong and make it better so that I can just write. I guess I’ll keep dreaming. LOL

    Until then, I’ll depend on those bloggers who have technical advice and know how to teach me. Thanks for the nice interview and information. So nice to learn more about a fellow blogger. Sally

Trackbacks

  1. Blogger Interview: Brian Hawkins of Hot Blog Tips…

    Brian, give us some background on yourself and how you got started with Hot Blog Tips. Who or what got you interested in blogging and was it your first blog? Just last week I wrote a piece reflecting on life before…