One of the most exciting things in the world of blogging is that anyone can start their own brand or business – no matter where in the world they live.
I've been in the industry for 20 years and started my first blog in 2007. I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of people and watch their personal brands grow over the years.
Harsh Agrawal is one of those bloggers I met at the Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas last year. Today he has one of the most successful and popular blogs in India.
Read this story and actionable advice below in the latest installment in the Meet the Bloggers series.
1.) Please tell us something about yourself and how you got into blogging.
Hey Zac, first of all I want to say that it is my pleasure to be invited to your blog.
Well, I am one of those who love to do the right thing. I am a blogger from New Delhi, India and I happen to run an award-winning blog called ShoutMeLoud.
I started ShoutMeLoud in 2008 as a hobby that I would work on after college class and work. Within a few months, I realized that blogging can give me the life I've always dreamed of. It was then that I decided to become a professional blogger.
I quit my existing job at Convergys and also declined to join an MNC called Accenture. It was a tough recall in 2009 as blogging wasn't seen as an ideal career choice in India at the time.
Today I can safely say that it was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made. It's been about 8 years since I've blogged and shared all of my insights, successes, and failures.
I basically study for a lifetime and so far it's been great. I love to live in the moment and enjoy everything I have “in the now”.
2.) What is the main focus of your blog and why did you choose this niche?
ShoutMeLoud started as a technology blog, but later I started sharing my insights on WordPress, AdSense, and SEO to document my journey for my readers.
As I started making money, I realized that these could be life changing things and everyone should know about the power of blogging. At this point, ShoutMeLoud took a new direction. We have moved from the hardcore tech niche to the “be your own boss” niche.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
I firmly believe that "not all eggs are put in one basket". Because of this, ShoutMeLoud has multiple sources of income.
Here are all of the ways I monetized (and monetized) ShoutMeLoud:
I used to offer blog-related services as a blog is a great way to generate service leads. When I started, I made my first bucks by offering services on my blog and through forums like the Digital Forum.
I still remember the day I received my first $ 10 online payment through PayPal. I fixed an issue related to the Google Webmaster Tool for a blogger.
This is my main source of income. Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize a blog by making money promoting other people's products.
I made my first affiliate sales by promoting Dreamhost (the web hosting service I was using at the time).
Connected: The highest paying affiliate programs for bloggers
I also monetized ShoutMeLoud using AdSense for the first 3-4 years. I liked AdSense because it produced consistent recurring income (which is critical to financial stability).
While I've since switched from this model that I first operated, getting started with Google Adsense is very easy and very quick once approved. For bloggers looking to generate quick income from their traffic, I recommend checking it out.
After I started developing a name for ShoutMeLoud, direct ad sales came along. Even today, direct ad sales make up a good part of my total revenue.
If you own a blog and want to run direct ads but don't spend a lot of time finding people to run them, I recommend checking out Buysellads. Their platform makes it easy to coordinate with companies that want to run ads. This saves you time and increases your income at the same time.
Companies also pay money for product reviews.
The very first product I featured on ShoutMeLoud was our ShoutMeLoud WordPress theme. It sold well, but later I had to close it down due to a lack of support. However, themed companies need a lot of support and resources.
Later I added a few eBooks, WordPress plugins, and a few other things. I sell everything from the ShoutMeLoud store that I created with the Easy Digital Downloads plugin.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started blogging?
Growing up is a trap! ???? I miss the time when I could blog thoughtlessly without worrying too much about others.
Since ShoutMeLoud has become a much bigger brand than me, following a system is key to sustaining that growth and moving us in the right direction. Furthermore, there is little room for error.
So for those who are just starting out, experiment and make as many mistakes as you can in the first few days! Nobody will bother your initial mistakes. Be brave and follow your heart.
5.) Which three blogs do you visit almost every day?
I mainly rely on my Feeds (Feedly) and Content Discovery app (Flipboard) to discover great content written by all of the many great bloggers out there. Below are some of the blogs I enjoy reading because of their quality and well-researched content:
There are many others, but these 3 are always at the top of my list.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools / services that you use for your blogging?
That's one of my favorite questions! I love discovering new tools and testing them to see how they can help me save time or grow my blog. Here are a few:
- SEMrush: My favorite tool for doing keyword research, checking backlinks and also doing SEO audits.
- Bufferapp: I use it to schedule all of my social media updates. I have been paying for this tool for 3 years and have never had a single problem.
- Camtasia: I use this to create screencasts for my YouTube channel. I would also recommend checking out TubeBuddy, another great tool for YouTubers.
7.) What advice would you have for someone just starting their first blog?
Do your research well and get started as soon as possible. Don't waste too much time planning. Once you are on your way, you will find out how to balance and accelerate your blogging career. And make reading a habit. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing.
8.) What is the best advice or tip you have come across since starting blogging?
Do things from your heart, but look at the data from your head. A perfect combination of both is the right way to move forward in a world that is much more of a head than a heart.
9.) If you only had $ 100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
- Setting up and installing WordPress is free.
- I would use a free theme and all the major free plugins.
- I would spend around $ 60 / year hosting + a domain name.
- And I'd spend the rest of the money on a logo and proper branding.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Here are some places you can find me:
- Email: [email protected]
- Personal blog: denharsh.com
Thank you again, Harsh, for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you are interested in learning more about other bloggers and how they succeed online, be sure to check out our blogger interview series.