One on One with Everett Whitehead, Internet Marketing Expert

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Please note: This interview was originally posted on wpsmartapps.com. However, it seems the article is no longer available.  I have restored the interview below at the urging of visitors to this blog. Or you may prefer to read the version on the Internet Archive.  Enjoy.

Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers? List some blogs you own, your personal favorite.

My name is Everett Whitehead and I own DigitalSapien.com. We are a membership site that puts Internet entrepreneurs in touch with high quality Internet marketing video training. We started as a blog in 2006 and in the last two years added the membership component to the site. Our site is approaching 50 paying members and generates a few thousand dollars a month in affiliate commissions and product sales. Initially, our blog surveyed a wide variety of online marketing related topics, including search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media, and online education. However, lately were honing in on making our blog a resource for new internet marketers.

There are a few blogs or gurus I follow regularly such as Lee McIntyre, Rich Shefren, John Chow, Shoemoney and TechCrunch. You can learn a lot about making money online from these guys.

How you first got involved in with blogging?

In 2006 I was working for an Internet marketing agency in Boston I was a search engine optimizer (SEO) there and during my performance review that first year my boss encouraged me to start a blog so I could build a portfolio of thought leadership. So, later that day, I went home and downloaded WordPress, installed it, and played around with it well in to the night. I was hooked. I finally had a platform that allowed me to broadcast my thoughts out into the world.

What was the most challenging moment in your blogging career and why?

I would go on to spend many, many hours tweaking WordPress, testing plugins, trying on new themes, SEOing it, and trying to monetize it (buy adding Google Adsense and Amazon links to it). But, as you can tell by looking at some of my earlier posts, that my range of topics was all over the place. One day, Id talk about a new development in the world of SEO and the next day I would talk about a show that I saw on VH1. So I would say narrowing down a central theme of my blog was by far the most difficult thing to do. Focusing on a simple theme in your blog makes things so much easier for three reasons:

  1. It tells you what you should be writing about,
  2. It tells your readers what to expect from you which leads to a more engaged readership, an…
  3. search engines are better able to understand the central theme of your blog which allows you to attract more visitors from Google to your site.

Follow-up question:  What were the biggest mistakes you have committed back in the early days of your blogging career?

And when I tell you that this problem went on for years, I wish I was lying. Its really easy to think that readers want to hear from you, simply because you’re you. But unless you’re a big name celebrity or for some reason your life is amazingly interesting, then people really don’t want to hear about your for that reason. When you’re just getting started, people only want to hear what you have to say about a consistent and predictable set of topics and that topic better solve a pressing problem or give them more information about an issue than they had before.

What do you do constantly that you feel helps your as well as others blogging business?

The one thing I do constantly related to blogging that helps to expand our business is to give away high quality information. Anytime a visitor interacts with our blog they interact with our brand. So what we try to do is to make sure we give them the answers to the questions that directed them to our website in the first place. We make sure that each post is informative and brings the reader closer to the information they were seeking. This is how we bring visitors down or sales funnel and convert them to clients.

How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog? Many people struggle with coming up with different articles/posts and they only have one blog.

This is really easy to do. In our business we use a matrix that looks something like whats below to brainstorm blog post ideas.

  • current news about the topic
  • the science of as it pertains to the topic
  • upcoming events related to the topic
  • how-to articles about the topic
  • interview experts related to the topic
  • profiles about important people related to the topic
  • a post about how pop culture impacts the topic
  • expand on comments and questions from readers about the topic
    different philosophical approaches to doing something related to the topic
  • historical perspective about the topic
  • related topics that do not stray too far away from the main topic

Right there that’s 10 ways to make sure you have an ongoing supply of blog post and this matrix work for any topic.

What’s your strategy with your blog in general?  Whats the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?

We use our blog primarily to drive search engine traffic to our website and introduce new people to our business. Each post targets a particular keyword that we know has a high search frequency. We then use that keyword and morph it into a topic that we know our target market would be interested in. So for example, if the Google Keyword Tool tells us that the keyword pay-per-click strategy is a highly search, low competition keyword, well target that term in a blog post. Well then build a topic around that blog post based on current events or feedback from our membership. At the end of this process, we may end up with a blog post entitled Pay-Per-Click Strategies for Your Online Business.

That is how we use a SEO to drive traffic to our blog, the next part is to capture a visitors email so we can build a relationship with them. And we do this, by presenting them with additional free information related to the post they are reading to encourage them to sign up with us. For instance, going back to the Pay-Per-Click Strategies for Your Online Business, we might offer a free report or infographic related to PPC in the sidebar of this post to encourage readers to sign up for our service.

Do you think Page rank plays a vital role in a blog’s life? What would you prioritize Content, SEO, Traffic, Readers? Why (describe briefly)

All too often I see new bloggers and even misguided experienced bloggers concentrating on the wrong success metrics. Don’t get me wrong PageRank and Alexa rank are metrics that can indicate how popular a blog is and it might even result in you being able to charge higher fees for people to advertise on your site. However, I would not say that these are the true signs of a blogs success.

So how do you know your blog is successful? Well that’s a question with a pretty answer. Id say it would depend on the purpose of your blog. For us, we use our blog as a lead generation and branding tool. Therefore, in our business, success metrics are things like how many users entered the blog through organic search or were referred to our site by clicking on a link from another site. And of that total, how many signed up for a free membership, a paid membership, or subscribed to our newsletter. We seldom use affiliate links in our blog posts, but when we do, we track how many visitors clicked on those links. We may also pay attention to engagement metrics like bounce rate and average pages visited per user. These are metrics that help move your business in the direction you want it to go. So looking at things like retweets, PageRank, RSS subscribers may give you a gauge of popularity, they aren’t necessary an indication of how successful your blog actually is.

What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?

Well I guess the short answer would be that we rely on SEO to drive people to our blog primarily but it doesn’t stop there. We really try to convert casual visitors to subscribers by building relationships with them. By providing our visitors with value and connecting with them, they become advocates for us. Many times, they’ll link to us from their own blog or promote us in their social streams like Facebook or Twitter. And of course, we promote our blog content on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Another thing we do is participate in blog traffic exchange networks like BlogGlue, Zaparena, and Blog Traffic Exchange. These sites are great! Basically, you post links to related blogs at the end of your blog post and in exchange other bloggers posts links to your blog.

So the benefit is twofold:

  1. you get visitors who are already interested in your content coming to your site on a regular basis
  2. you get links pointing to your site which search engines will use as signals to give you higher rankings in the search results.

A lot of people are interested in blogging for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

I will say this: If you have a new blog, don’t expect to make any real money for the first few months. But its not all gloom. Here are a few tips for monetizing your blog:

Use the WordPress plugin called Quick Adsense. This plugin is highly versatile and it allows you to rotate Adsense code, precisely control where your ad code should be placed, as well as the number of ad units to be placed on the page. It says it’s designed for Adsense, but you can plug code from any ad network you wish in there. INSTALLING THIS PLUGIN WILL LIKELY BOOST YOUR ADSENSE REVENUE.

Go to Clickbank.com and sign-up. Find a product that has a high gravity and generally has decent reviews online (Just do a Google search or check the Warriors Forum to see what people are saying about it). Then do some research go to the sales page, read about it in the Warriors Forum, watch reviews on YouTube. When you’re ready, write a review about the product you’ve chosen and post it to your blog. We have a policy in our business that we only write reviews for products we have purchased and tested. But that’s up to you to decide if that fits your model. Promote your review by tweeting about it and leaving genuine and unique comments on external blogs / forums that discuss a topic related to the product you reviewed.
Incentivize people to buy Clickbank products from you by offering them additional bonuses when they purchase the product through your affiliate link. For us, this technique has been worth thousands of dollars over the years. This will encourage the reader to choose buying the product through you versus the other hundreds of reviews out there about the product.
Promoting Amazon products are easy, but in our experience they just don’t pay off enough. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Any final suggestions, tips to our readers? A final note to new blogger, how they too can become a successful blogger.

Focus on building a brand and connecting with your site visitors. Brand building is difficult. When you first start out, but you need away to set yourself apart from the millions of other blogs out there. So find a way to be unique without being outlandish. For example, a custom WordPress theme, a logo, a great tagline, a distinct writing tone, a focused topic, and giveaways and bonuses will all differentiate you from the herd.

The second thing is to write consistently and connect with your readership. Don’t let your readers down. There are a lot of 3 post blogs out there that seem like they had potential.

Thank You For Reading!

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Digital Sapien Interactive Team

Digital Sapien Interactive Team

A team of writers who are dedicated to providing visitors to our blog with insightful information into the world of SEO and digital marketing.