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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.