Blogging Expertise is a small business devoted to helping you get the most out of blogging, whether you’re an individual or represent a small business. Its owner, Sarah Lewis, is passionate about blogging. If she has it her way, you will be too. Here is our interview with Sarah.
How did you get started in blogging?
I started a personal blog back in 2001 just as a means of personal expression. I came across Blogger, and since I’d been active in web development, I was fascinated and delighted by the ease of publishing. That made it easy to get started, and I’ve maintained at least one blog ever since.
What made you start a business in blogging?
Between my own experience with blogging and my web development background, it was a natural extension for my business. As a blogger myself, it was easy to field questions from my clients about blogging and help them get started, and eventually I realized that there was a market for blog-specific services, so I transitioned to blogs as my main focus.
Where do you think the future of blogging is headed?
Blogging tools will continue to be improved, making it easier and easier to get started. The blog culture will continue to evolve, providing better resources to bloggers, readers, and those who are unknowingly served by blogs. More people will take up blogging, but even more than that, more “traditional” sites will use the blogging’s advances in usability to improve the experience for businesses and their customers.
What are some ways to drive traffic to a blog?
The boring-but-true answer is to write high-quality content on a regular basis. Other tactics may bring visitors, but without excellent content, they won’t stick around. Once you have the content in place (and are regularly creating more), then search engine optimization and social networks can help significantly. And just like real life, making friends with those who have similar interests helps expand your circle of influence.
What does it take to make a living blogging?
While it’s possible to bring in steady advertising revenue (the main recommendation for “making money with a blog”), it’s really unusual to make enough to live on. Honestly, I don’t personally know anyone who is making a living from simply writing a blog. The most financially successful bloggers I know are using a blog in conjunction with some other business model. Many consultants are getting great results using a blog to attract new clients. Authors are increasing book sales by showing off what they know in a blog. Software companies are increasing their user-bases and reducing the cost of customer service by sharing relevant info on blogs. Salespeople are using blog articles to educate prospects and get them closer to a deal. Beyond sales, lead generation and the like, blogging also helps professionals increase their own personal knowledge, communication skills, network of contacts, and find-ability online, all of which translate into better business across the board (online and off).
Which blog services do you use (or would recommend) and why?
For anyone serious about blogging, I recommend the full version of WordPress (WordPress.org, not the free version at WordPress.com). It has an excellent combination of ease-of-use and flexibility, thanks to plugins and its programmer-friendly code. Many other systems don’t allow commercial content (meaning you are limited in your ability to make money, either directly or indirectly), are more difficult to use, or aren’t as flexible.
I don’t think there will be any revolutions in straight blogging services for a while, but there are some very interesting new tools popping up for use alongside the big players. One I’ve been hearing great things about lately is called Utterz. People are using it to make quick audio posts from cell phones, among other things. “Quick” seems to be a trend, too, going back to the “web log” roots of blogs. “Tumble blogs” like Tumblr, Jaiku, Twitter, & Pownce, make it easy to create a quick post from anything you find interesting online, including video.
Recently (November 2007) you were at the BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas. Could you briefly describe what BlogWorld is all about?
This was BlogWorld’s first year, so it is still a bit under the radar, but it was the first large-scale conference focusing on blogging. It followed the standard conference format, with sessions on a wide variety of blog-related topics. Some of the popular sessions focused on making money from blogs, how to get more traffic, and new tools and technologies (you know, all the stuff that everyone wants to know about blogging!). There were also tracks focused on military blogging, “God blogging”, and a higher-level business view for corporate executives. Most attendees are currently blogging, but there were also a sizable number of folks who had decided to dive into blogging and looked at BlogWorld as a crash course.Like most conferences, networking was a big part of the benefit of going. Because of blogging’s remote nature, the in-person encounters were a big deal as many bloggers met for the first time people they’ve known online for years. I met several longtime clients for the first time. That, combined with pages and pages of notes interspersed with “Do this!” stars and underlining, made the conference a great experience for me.
What suggestions do you have for readers who want to get into blogging?
Start with your goals. Are you simply looking for an outlet for your thoughts? Do you want to turn it into real income? Do you want to become known as a subject matter expert? Figuring out what you want the blog to do for you is extremely helpful in finding the success you’re looking for.The next step is to choose a topic and actually start blogging. Depending on your level of tech-savvy, you might want help to get everything set up, or you might want to do it yourself. Goals help here, too. If you’re blogging just for you, and not for money, you can easily get started at WordPress.com for free in about five minutes. If you’re planning on making money or enhancing a business with a blog, it’s worth paying a little upfront to have everything set up for your specific needs.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you don’t have the time or interest to blog, you can definitely still benefit from the popularity of blogs to learn new things and make connections within your industry. Find a blog or two that adds value to your life and get in the habit of reading it regularly; then take notes and actively make changes based on what you read. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it can make.
Do you have any other sites of interest or information you’d like to share with visitors?
WordPress Quick Start is a video blog that shows would-be bloggers how to get started in an easy step-by-step format. Coming soon, Blogging Expertise will be transitioning to a training program, and the blog design and promotion services will be moving to a new site called “Findable Blogs”. I’ll also be launching a tool to help with blog promotion.
Thank you Sarah for your time and for providing our readers with valuable information and resources. To learn more about Sarah Lewis and her business visit BloggingExpertise.com.
Sarah Lewis, Owner of Blogging Expertise
Interviewed by: Brian Hernandez, Owner of Vizual Graphix