This is an interview with Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard.
Hey, Adam. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hey! I’m a content marketing practioner that teaches solopreneurs how to build profitable websites that attract traffic.
I’m best known as the founder of Blogging Wizard, an award winning blog focused on teaching creators how to turn their passion into profit.
I come from an agency background. Before leaving my job to focus on my own projects full time, I worked as an operations manager at a marketing agency here in the UK.
My role was mostly focused on SEO and content marketing. But I also found myself building websites for internal projects and project managing the builds of sites for web design clients.
When did you start your first online business?
Over the years, I’ve had a few different businesses. Not all of them were successful. And, weirdly, that’s a good thing. I learned some important lessons.
I started my first online business in college. Sometime around 2008/2009.
It happened almost by accident and some would view it as a complete failure. But failing forwards matters. And without this experience, I wouldn’t of had many of the wins that followed.
While I was in college studying music technology & production, a couple of my lecturers inspired me to launch my own record label.
One of them was a renowned trance producer, and the other ran a drum and bass label.
I learned a lot from them about the “nuts and bolts” of starting a record label. All the fun stuff like getting music chart registered, etc. But, back then, I had the “if you build it, they will come” type mindset. I had to break that mindset, the hard way.
So, I launched the record label with music produced by myself and a few friends.
And aside from a few sales, nothing happened.
By the time I considered winding things down, I hadn’t broke even. And I very nearly threw in the towel.
Then, I randomly stumbled onto a specific avenue of opensource culture – the netaudio movement.
I found hundreds of small record labels (known as netlabels) that were releasing music completely free. Just for the love of it.
Not wanting to let the project be for nothing, my friends and I all agreed to release the music for free instead.
This time, I dug deeper into the marketing side of things. Bought a book on music marketing and looked at how other netlabels marketed their music.
We ended up releasing more than 60 records from artists all over the world. And reaching millions of people with those releases.
My own sub-par trance music collectively had over 100K downloads. And I made some great friends a long the way.
The project was shut down some years ago now but it taught me the power of free content. And in the process of designing the website for my netlabel, I discovered WordPress and its blogging functionality made it easy for us to announce new releases.
The time and effort put into this project was significant but it helped to shape the mindset I needed to launch my current business and get it to where it is now.
How long did it take you to start earning from Blogging Wizard?
It took me around 2 months or so to start earning money from the site.
I was taking things easy at first though. Most of the content I published was informative and I published very little revenue-generating content.
What are your top traffic sources right now?
Organic search, social media, and email.
Read also: 16 Things to Do When Your Blog Traffic is Low
To what extent do you rely on organic traffic and why?
I have a background in SEO so leaning on organic traffic comes naturally to me.
Aside from email, it’s my preferred traffic source because it’s more predictable than the likes of social media.
Social media traffic can offer more traffic in a short amount of time but after that, your content is done.
Organic traffic, however, can provide consistent long-term traffic. With higher buyer-intent too (depending on KW’s chosen, of course).
How do you decide what new topics to cover on the blog?
My goal is to create a huge resource of content that will provide my readers with the answers to most of their questions.
I have a few different starting points for new topics – competitor research, KW research, content gaps, reader comment/feedback, etc.
But to justify the cost/time of content creation, everything I publish is now backed up with keyword research.
How do you grow your email list?
I offer a library of subscriber-only content to those that subscribe to my newsletter.
This offer is advertised strategically across the site. In popovers, after post opt-in forms, and landing pages.
Not everyone that visits my site is a good fit for my newsletter so I tend to write de-selective copy to encourage the right people, whilst discouraging those that aren’t a good fit. My goal isn’t the biggest email list, it’s an email list of the right people (the people that I can help the most effectively).
Is Pinterest part of your marketing strategy? If so, how do you utilize it?
Pinterest used to be a huge part of my marketing strategy but I’ve stopped using it entirely due to the demands on my time.
I might revisit it in the future though.
What are some other blogs you’re running right now?
Aside from Blogging Wizard, I’ve got:
- My personal blog. I don’t publish here often but when I do, it’s 100% focused on marketing and business.
- Startup Bonsai. This is my dedicated business software review site.
- Tone Island. I started playing guitar and making music at the age of 13. This site is all about guitar, making music, and making money from music.
How do you balance running multiple websites?
Given the size of Blogging Wizard and Startup Bonsai in particular, it’s not possible to run them effectively whilst retaining any sort of work/life balance.
So I have a team to help me – an editor, editorial assistant, and ~10 writers.
As the team has expanded, I’ve had to create processes and systems to keep things working efficiently.
Notion, Google Docs, and Google Drive have been extremely useful. Notion especially because I don’t vibe with most productivity tools.
They require us to work within someone else’s workflow. Notion allowed me to design our own.
What’s your favorite blog monetization method and why?
Affiliate marketing. This is what I started out with because I didn’t have much in the way of time for creating my own products.
One of my sites is a business software review site so it’s a great fit for the niches I work in.
Read also: How Caroline Used Affiliate Marketing to Grow a $100K Parenting Blog
How much are you currently earning from your blogs and in what ways?
My blogs make 6 figures a year. Primarily from affiliate marketing, sponsorships and the like.
Do you believe every blogger can turn their main website into a full-time business? Or is having multiple blogs better?
If building a full-time business is your primary goal, it’s easier to do it with one website.
Even when you’ve got that one website that you’ve grown into a full-time business, you can grow that site far faster than starting a fresh one.
This is a lesson that I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve always tended to go where inspiration takes me. I’ve made it work but splitting my focus between projects has hindered growth of my core business somewhat.
How do you deal with a sudden drop of blog traffic?
Calmly. I work to understand why traffic has dropped, then I list out every possible solution or tactic that could help reclaim lost traffic, and grow it further.
In the case of SEO, you’ve got to dig into analytics at a granular level.
Sure, some ranking factors operate at a site level, but Google ranks pages not websites generally. So, you need to look at the content that’s slipped rankings.
I’ve had some weird situations where a minor sub-heading tweak has taken an article from nothing to 100s of visitors per day.
On other occasions, content has just needed a minor refresh. Nothing more.
It’s also possible that some keywords no longer gain the traffic they once did. The search terms people use change over time and you’ve got to adapt with those changes.
Do you think having ads on a blog is still effective in 2023?
Personally, I’m not a fan of ads because they mess up user experience.
But the biggest publishing companies on the planet rely on ads so they’re able to make them work. That’s not to say they’ll work for everyone though.
Your niche is a factor here. For example, in the marketing space, hardly any sites use ads.
What aspects of your business have you outsourced?
I mostly outsource editorial work and content creation. I still work on my own content and I’m usually the one that does the publishing & promotion of the content.
I occasionally outsource graphic design work and social media management too.
What’s your favorite change about the blogging industry in the last 10 years?
Website speed. Back when I first started blogging, WordPress was slow, hosts were slow, and internet connections were slow.
And if you wanted to speed up your site? That process was complex.
Developers were fine. But it was challenging for the average blogger.
Things have steadily improved across the board. And now, they’re fantastic.
For example, the speed increases from WordPress performance plugins are so much better than they used to be.
And there’s even one-click performance tools like NitroPack that deploy cutting-edge optimizations without the need for any technical know-how.
What are some things you wish remained the same in terms of blogging and content creation?
Firstly, the UI of search engines. Give me a simple list of blue links any day.
Some updates/additions have been useful but for the most part, they just get in the way of finding the information we need. Progress for the sake of progress, isn’t really progress at all.
Secondly, social media algorithms. It used to be possible to reach the people that follow us. I miss those days.
Where can people find you?
You can reach me on my personal blog; AdamConnell.me, Twitter, or LinkedIn.