I’ve talked before about our Blogging Success and how it’s one of the 3 pillars of our success
Starting my first blog in 1999 before the phrase “Content Is King” was something spouted by marketing gurus it leveraged a journalistic career, springboarded an events company and became the backbone of Altrincham HQ
In a lengthy interview David Bellin of The Web Studio and Startup Business Services fires over 30+ questions on blogging at us
If this blog inspires you to write your 1st blog – leave a link in the comments section below
1. Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?
I started my blogging journey back in 1999 with one of Manchester’s 1st music and entertainment websites Designer Magazine
It was a journey that took in interviews with the musicians, soap stars, comedians and politicians of the early noughties. We’re talking Elbow, Muse, Take That, Scissor Sisters, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones, Alan Carr, Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh, Tony Benn, George Galloway and many more
For sheer variety you couldn’t beat it. Every single day was different
It was this website that leveraged a career writing for publications here in the UK for the likes of the BBC and Rock Tribe (now known as Rock Sound) and over in the States with Soak Magazine
When I launched my Social Media business Altrincham HQ I knew the importance of blogging and setting up this was on the essentials list. It might not be as rock & roll as my past and doesn’t get the readers I was used to. But it fulfils the objective of helping people. It’s about raising the bar for small business marketing in my home town and across the UK now
2. What is a Blog?
The official description of a blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.
In a business context the easiest way to describe it to those who haven’t blogged before is it’s a modern version of a newsletter or article writing and a marketing method that keeps driving traffic back time and time again and helps to convert sales
3. How do you use your Blog?
I use it to communicate ideas to businesses on the importance of social media, marketing and having a work ethic
At the core of each blog is an idea that what is written over the next few hundred or thousands words will help the reader to grow their business
There’s so so much advice out there on the internet, but often people want that advice from someone local, someone they know and someone who is running a business still
4. What type of Blog works best for you?
When it comes to blogging I tend to look at the whole picture rather the individual blogs themselves
Case Studies naturally have high conversion rates as they tell stories with a beginning, middle and end and show the reader what is possible
Advice blogs help people to get a greater understanding of the subject matter they’re interested in
Listicle blogs i.e 5 Reasons Why / 5 Ways You Can / 7 Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make allow the reader to digest information in bite-size chunks
I think when it comes to blogs you’ve got to think long term – people might read a dozen blogs before deciding you’re the right fit for their business
5. How often should you Blog?
In an ideal world blogging every single day would be advantageous
Although there’s those things like work, clients and meetings that stop most businesses blogging every day
So blogging at least once a week is more than enough to make blogging work for you
6. Why is Blogging good for your business?
In 3 words – it sells stuff
It really is as simple as that
Blogging drives awareness which helps aid the decision making process and sells more stuff
Singlehandedly every sale I’ve made outside of Greater Manchester has come directly or indirectly from blogging
Blogging helps my SEO and makes sure I’m discoverable when people are looking for Social Media Training or Social Media Management
7. What are the most common Blogging mistakes that people should avoid?
Treating their blog like a news section and being too inward looking
A blog that simply lists your awards, your latest new starters, your new qualifications will not convert
Those type of news updates play a part in your blogging activity, but they are not the start and end of what you should be blogging about
8. What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
I’ve actually detailed my greatest failure in blogging indepth here
In short last year I got too busy with work and stopped blogging for nearly 6 weeks for the 1st time ever in the history of 7 years of Altrincham HQ
Stopping blogging itself was my greatest failure as traffic to the website dropped by 42% and new business enquiries dropped by 50% over the period I stopped blogging
I learnt from that point on I would never stop blogging
I set up a very badly designed music website in 1999, the days of dial up internet and Netscape composer, and within months had an audience of 10,000 readers a week
That website kick started everything I do now
My most read blog was read by over 500,000 people. I then went on to write for the BBC, launched an events company and do what I do now at Altrincham HQ
Without writing that 1st ever blog I wouldn’t be doing what I do now
10. Has any Blog article ever backfired on you?
Backfired – no
But my blogs come from a very honest, a very real and personal place in terms of what inspires them
My blogs are never theoretical. They’re always based in the practical and reality
So often I get asked is that blog about me. Sometimes it may be, but usually it’s a combination of experiences built over time of which suddenly a title comes from the ether and the blog writes itself
I hope if a person sees themselves in a blog – they will use the blog to become a better person and build a better business
11. Tell me about your proudest achievement?
Very easy question – having a blog read by over half a million people
There’s not many people who can say they’ve had a blog read by that many
12. What are the best ways to promote a Blog?
Social Media and a mailing list
All of those 3 go hand in hand and it can be hard to build a readership if you’re not working on your network on the various social media platforms
People underestimate the size of a Social Media audience needed and tell themselves the old quality vs quantity line when they don’t put the effort into audience building
The 2 aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have a large audience of quality social media followers
13. If you had to give one tip, what is the top tip you would give to a Blogger?
Most businesses struggle with ideas so think of series or themes that you can run
If one blog works run that theme out to blog on other aspects of your businesses products or services
A classic example of that was our 10 Twitter Mistakes That Businesses Make Daily blog. It was really well received so we can ran out a similar blog on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram in the months after that. All 4 blogs have done really really well as a result
14. Do you and if so how do you monitor the success of your Blogs?
Everything I do online I monitor every day whether that be Social Analytics or Google Analytics or Tracking Sales
Google Analytics is a biggie for tracking which are my most popular blogs each week
I then use that data to share our most popular blogs each week on a Sunday, which in turn fuels more reads of the blog
When people ring or email up they’ll often volunteer the information as to which blog they were reading before they got in touch
Tracking what is being read and what is converting to sales is key
15. How much time should you spend writing your Blogs as opposed to sharing your Blogs?
I think the writing and distribution of blogs should be equally prioritised
There is no point in spending an hour writing a blog that then is not read because of poor distribution
Similarly there is no point in distributing a poorly written blog
It’s worth remember that distribution can happen over time as well as instantly after writing
Some of our timeless blogs are shared months and years later
16. What are the best ways to enhance a Blog?
Video is a great way to enhance a blog
Some of our key blogs we’ve turned into Periscope and Facebook live videos to further extend the reach of the content
Remember – blogging ultimately is the passing on of ideas. So if you can further spread those ideas by doing a video (or a Vlog) on something you’ve written previously it’s a great way to extend that reach
Also having a series of images to go with the blog really works
Far too many blog have just one cover image and that’s it. Often we will develop a series of social tiles to help promote that individual blog
I’m not a trained journalist so it shows with passion and the right ideas anyone reading this can do exactly what I did
The businesses I’ve launched have always been passion 1st and money follows
It’s much harder if you’re running a business or in a career that you’re simply doing because it pays the bills at the end of the month
18. What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog?
Every business reading this will be different so I can only speak in terms of my blog
Facebook and Twitter all the way for driving traffic
LinkedIn drives huge amounts of business for us, but doesn’t necessarily drive huge amounts of traffic for us. People tend to be less active on the newsfeed there – which is a shame as there are huge amounts of B2B businesses that need marketing help
A blogger has to respect their readers time so they need to give massive amounts of value in each blog
Even if it’s just one take away the reader needs to think the 5-10 minutes spend reading have been well spent
20. How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?
Everyone who runs a blog will tell you they don’t struggle with ideas, but they struggle with finding the time to write a blog
I usually only write when it flows. I don’t set a set time for it because you can’t force the words on to a page
What this means is I can be writing a blog at 7am in the morning or 11pm at night if that’s when the ideas flow
21. What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far?
Writers block is something that comes up time and time again
You can have a page of 10-15 titles or ideas and the words just don’t flow for any of them
Even when you’ve been writing for years that writers block moment can still come
22. What inspired you to start your blog?
For my current blog it was about helping as many businesses as possible
So many businesses invest tens of thousands £££s into their business and don’t have a clue about marketing
I wanted to have a blog that made these businesses think, knowing that the person who wrote them was at the end of a phone or around the corner from them
What I’ve found started as a local blog to help local businesses has been read all over the North West and UK and helped 1000s of businesses
It’s a nice feeling
23. How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
Motivation to do is easy when you’re helping people
If people didn’t read the blog I’d know that was the time to give up
But I attract 1000s of businesses each month that need help and I’m prepared to keep helping them
When you have dozens of readers, you want hundreds of readers
When you have hundreds of readers, you want thousands of readers
When you have thousands of readers, you want ten of thousands of readers
I think as a writer you’re never satisfied with the size of your readership
25. Have you met anyone interesting/famous on your blogging journey?
I met so many I could name drop for the rest of this interview
It’s more interesting to look at the variety of stories that people have to tell and being able to step into their shoes
There’s something ridiculous about interviewing S Club Juniors about the Harry Potter premier one day and then having a 45 minute political interview with George Galloway the next
Over the years the political interviews were interesting because these were people that wanted to change the world rather than be famous for 5 minutes
My blog is what I do in my life and what I experience
It’s improved my bank balance and my business, but my blog is real life
27. How active are you as a Blogger on a weekly basis?
I used to be a lot more active in my journalist days often doing 3-4 interviews and 3-4 live or album reviews every week
Now I write one large marketing blog a week to keep educating people
Some of the time I don’t think that’s enough – but if a business owner reads it that’s 52 times a year they can improve their business. And that’s massive
Other blogs are more laboured and can take an hour and a half
I never write to a word count and use text rather than Microsoft word so that when a blog ends it ends naturally rather than thinking that’s enough words now
29. Do you have some tips for those people who are interested in making money from the blog?
When people think of monetizing a blog they often think of selling adverts on there
Most blogs never get enough readers to sell enough advertising to monetise it
Think of all the different streams of income you can get through a blog though – paid journalism, selling more services / products, more sign ups to your mailing list
Use the side bar on your website to promote what you do on every occasion
30. Is Facebook a Blog? Do you consider Facebook a platform for Blogging?
For us no – although there is facebook articles which can be used
I use facebook as a distribution channel or for micro blogs / thought pieces in the same way i’d use Twitter
Your website is a very expensive brochure without one
Your business will generate more business with a well written one
What are you waiting for?
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Please call Alex on 07806774279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex McCann is owner of Altrincham HQ – a social media management and training company based in Altrincham, Cheshire that has worked with 100s of local business developing their social media strategy. Alex has 400+ LinkedIn testimonials and is ranked number 1 for Social Media Marketing in the UK via independent customer reviews on Freeindex.