Thursday, December 17, 2009

Interview with Blogging Expert CATHY STUCKER

As the Idea Lady, Cathy Stucker helps authors, professionals and entrepreneurs build the businesses of their dreams. Cathy is the author of several books, audio programs and other information products, and she has more websites than we can list here. Sign up for Cathy's free IdeaLady Insider newsletter at http://IdeaLady.com/, access her resources for authors and publishers at http://SellingBooks.com/ and learn where you can find Cathy online at http://ConnectWithCathy.com/.

After I published my first novel Dead Witness, and I'd read all the books available, books like Jerry D. Simmons and John Kremer wrote or recommended, I began this blog. I followed their advice closely, and that helped. Then one day I discovered a link to Cathy's BloggerLinkUp, and blogging successfully took on a whole new meaning.

Please welcome my next guest Cathy Stucker, and if you have any question, no matter how simple it may sound to you, ask away.



Our Interview:

-- Cathy, can you tell us a little about your background up to creating BloggerLinkUp?

My “real life” career was in the insurance industry. When I got laid off in 1994, I decided to follow my passions and create my own job as an author, speaker and consultant. I set up my first website, http://IdeaLady.com/, in 1998, and there was no stopping me after that!

Although I still do speaking and consulting, much of my focus these days is on developing passive income streams so that I am not just trading hours for dollars. That means creating products and blogging, among other things. You can see more about what I’m up to at http://ConnectWithCathy.com/.

-- Apart from being a writer, marketeer, and all round expert on online business, what lead up to you creating BloggerLinkUp?

I have always seen the value in placing my content on other sites and blogs, and thought it should be easier. I set up BLU so guest posters and bloggers could find each other without a lot of hassle. In other words, I created BLU because I wanted to use it!

-- How do you juggle your time? Do you follow a strict schedule, or just wing it? Does it even fizz you how organized you are?

Lists, lists and more lists! I set goals and objectives every day. Some days are more productive than others, but I make an effort to accomplish something every day. I also have an email accountability partner. I email her every work day with a list of what I accomplished that day. Because I never want to say, “I didn’t do anything today,” it motivates me to get things done.

-- Me, and a lot of other bloggers think of you as an expert in the field. How long and what process did it take to become so knowledgeable on blogging?

I started blogging in 2004, but didn’t get serious until 2006. That is when I jumped in to learning WordPress and how to promote a blog. The best way to learn how to do anything, in my opinion, is to do it. Just start blogging and learn as you go. It is highly unlikely that anything you do will make your computer explode, so it’s safe. ;o)

-- What do you see as the biggest mistakes bloggers make?

Giving up too soon. When they do not get instant results (e.g., millions of page views and thousands of dollars a month) within a month or two, they lose interest and quit posting. It takes time to build a following and a volume of content that will draw the search engines. If you want to be a successful blogger, commit to posting an average of at least three times a week for at least six months. Also commit to doing things to promote your blog, including optimizing it for the search engines,
posting to social networking and bookmarking sites, doing guest posts, etc.

-- What's the easiest way to find one's theme? Is there a mind map we can should concentrate on?

To be successful as a blogger you need a topic for which you have passion. If you are going to write at least a few posts a week, you need to be interested and excited about your topic. To attract an audience (and make money) you need a topic that also interests and excites a lot of other people. It can be difficult to find the right topic and angle that excites you and draws an audience, but it is rewarding.

-- What you say about getting your traffic from different sources makes total sense, but could we step back a second. Could you take us through step by step on how to get links to our sites? Manually? There are so many new bloggers who don't yet understand the lingo.

There are lots of ways to get links. Link to your blog from your social media profiles, bookmark your best posts on sharing sites such as Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon, publish guest posts on other blogs and websites and link from them, comment on blogs, post to forums, and look for linking opportunities every chance you get. The more links the better. However, stay away from things the search engines don’t like, such as buying links.

By the way, one way to build links that lots of bloggers do not think about is by linking to other blogs. Linking to other blogs in your posts is useful to your readers, and the bloggers you link to will discover your blog when they look to see who is linking to them. That can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship (to steal a line from “Casablanca”).

-- Let's say Mr. Blogger has followed your advice, joined the networks, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, etc, and his numbers rise from 10 a day to 100? What's stopping him from receiving 1000 hits a day?

Nothing. Keep doing more promotion, and give it time. The search engines generally do not deliver much traffic to new sites, but once your site is several months old (assuming you have built a solid site with good, meaty posts) you will see traffic increase, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly.

-- Most of the blogs I visit are creative writing related. Many are fun, informative and reviewing, but not necessarily unique. Yet one is receiving 1000 hits a day and the others aren't even close. Can you speculate on what might be happening?

The busier site may be doing more promotion (e.g., linking and bookmarking) or better Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For example, if you know what terms people search for, you can write posts about those subjects, using the exact terms people search for. That makes it more likely that your blog will rank well with the search engines.

As an example, a little research with the Google AdWords tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal shows that “write a novel” is searched for more than twice as often as “writing a novel.” So you might want to title your blog post, “Write a Novel in Three Steps,” rather than “Writing a Novel in Three Steps.” And “write your novel” gets very few searches, so, “Write Your Novel in Three Steps,” would probably not be a good title choice from an SEO perspective.

The blogger getting many more visitors may also be forming more relationships with other bloggers. One of the great things about bloggers is that we love to work with other bloggers. When you form alliances with other bloggers, you all benefit. You can guest post on each other’s blogs, comment on posts, link to each other and other things that build awareness and traffic.

- Thanks for your time, Cathy. I can only imagine how busy you must be. Before we go, is there anything you want the rest of us to understand about blogging that we don't cover in the questions above?

Remember that blogging is about building relationships—with your readers and with other bloggers. Don’t look at it as a “get rich quick” scheme, but over the long term blogging can make you successful. Oh, and have fun! If you see blogging as just one more thing to check off your to-do list, you won’t experience the joy that comes from being part of an online community of writers and readers.

-- Thank you, Cathy. Merry Christmas.

18 comments :

  1. Agreed! How very true, and as well as a little fame in due course, there is the opportunity to meet lots of great people.

    Happy Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great article. I had no idea Cathy's newsletter existed. But I do now! Thanks Joylene.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent interview. I learned plenty about blogging and I may just start a blog. You guys make it sound easy. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, Carole, Casey and Jack. The reason I asked Cathy here today was because I knew her work was valuable and you would learn some important lessons. I do every time she posts comments on her blogger.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sorry I'm not posting my name because I don't want everyone knowing how dumb I am when it comes to blogging. I do have a few questions tho.

    When you start out, what if it takes a while to find your theme? Can you switch six months down the road?

    What if a year later it feels as if you've said everything you can say about the history of your theme, like the Victorian era, can you switch to a new topic? Or would that confuse your readers?

    When you say link to others, do you mean that I should post an excerpt of their post, then include a link to the rest of it?

    I noticed Joylene does that every so often. Is that what you mean? People read her post, then click on the link and read the rest of the story at the other guy's blog?

    I think the hardest thing about blogging is all the new terminology. Like links and backlinks and search engines. It's confusing.

    Joylene, your book was awesome! I'm really really looking forward to the next one.

    Thanks for clearing up most of this stuff, Cathy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Annon. Thanks for your questions. I'm going to let the expert answer your questions. Thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great interview, Cathy and Joylene. I have a question. Is blogging every day too much work for the reader?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Kathrine. Thanks for the commenting. It's something else I've always wanting to know. We'll wait together for Cathy's answer. Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Joylene, I started reading your interview with Cathy earlier and just as Anonymous questioned, I ended up following a link and never finished here. So I'm back. Just want to say I really appreciated Cathy's information, especially the Google AdWords tool. That's something I haven't been taking into consideration with my blog. Thanks for the tip, Cathy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for your comments and questions, everyone!

    Katherine, if you blog every day, you create lots of content to be discovered by readers and search engines. You can not expect that every reader will read all of every post, no matter how often you blog. But having lots of content means they will find things they can enjoy when they want them.

    Anonymous, there are not a lot of hard and fast rules for blogging, so you can do what works for you and your readers. That said, there are some best practices you may wish to follow.

    Changing topics can be confusing to readers, so once you choose a topic, stick with it for that blog. You can always start another blog if you find there is a different subject you want to blog about. Of course, you can do the occasional "off-topic" post on your blog, but your readers expect that you will write about the main subject of your blog.

    It is unlikely that you will run out of things to write about, no matter what your subject. You do need to make sure that your subject is broad enough to begin with, though. If your subject is Victorian history, there are literally thousands of things you can write about. If your subject is corsets worn by royalty during the Victorian era, you will run out of ideas for posts much sooner.

    Linking to other bloggers is good etiquette. There are several reasons to do so. One is that you found an interesting post that your readers would like. In that case, just link to it with a couple of comments about why you found it interesting.

    Another reason to link is that a post inspired you. You may want to write a post on a similar topic, mention that this other post got you thinking about the subject, and link to the other post.

    There are lots of other reasons to link, but linking and comments are two of the things that make blogs useful to readers.

    Good luck, everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks so much, Cathy. Your comment alone is full of valuable info.

    ReplyDelete
  12. A wonderful article. I can always use a little help to promote my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Very few of us don't need help, Anita. I'm eager to learn; that's why I'm so grateful to people like Cathy who are willing to teach everything they know. It's a very generous attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you so much, Cathy. This was an outstanding interview and I learned a lot. Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Honestly, this was excellent. I feel like I can do this. Thanks, Cathy and Joylene.

    ReplyDelete
  16. You're very welcome, StarGlazer. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for inviting me, and for putting this together, Joylene. I hope it is helpful to your readers as they begin (or continue) on their blogging journey!

    ReplyDelete
  18. thank you, Cathy. It was my pleasure. I know for a fact that you helped my readers. So much of this stuff needs someone like you to make sense of it for us. Thanks! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Your opinions matter.