Interviewing Kevin Muldoon from Blogging Tips

Brief Intro about yourself?

Hi there. My name is Kevin Muldoon, I’m 29 years old and I’ve been working on the web since early 2000. I have numerous websites on the web but one of my main ones is Blogging Tips.com. I also have a personal blog at system0 which I hope to update more often with general web development topics which aren’t suitable for BloggingTips.

How did you get started?

I was always interested in computers however I decided to do Mathematics, Statistics and Finance at University when I went in 1996. However, I took a lot of computing classes – C+, maplan, fortran etc. It was at this time I got a PC – £1,600 for a Pentium 1 166mhz, 32mb RAM and 3gb Hard Drive.…a crazy amount when you think of todays prices and the fact my phone is more powerful. One of the courses on my course was ‘An introduction to the internet’. At this time very few people had actually used the internet and I remember I had to pay crazy dial up prices and use AOL to connect to the web.

After University I got a job in Finance however by this time I was very interested in the internet. I bought my first domain around late 1999 and a few months later I decided to build a site around it. And it went from there. In 2001 I left my office job and went back to Uni and did a post grad in Software Development and studied amongst other things, Java. By this point I had self taught myself HTML and was reading up on javascript and perl too.

When I graduated in 2002 I found it hard to get a job as a web designer as I was going in for jobs against people with 4 years of computer science studies. I did some nightschool courses on photoshop and flash but I still struggled to get a web related position, even though at the time I ran an affiliate forum and directory with a few thousand members and a sports based forum with over 10,000 members. It was around this time I had started to make decent money from the web so I had already made the decision that I would prefer to work for myself.

Blogging was a natural progression for me as I had previously run a lot of forums and had wrote a lot of articles for them. The blogging platform just made things easier – infact, for the first 2 years I used notepad to code all my sites. It wasn’t until I used Textpad at uni that I changed my preference (and still use it to this day). The blogging scripts really made adding more content to my site a breeze and saved me having to upload files manually all the time.

Do you run your blog under any “Media” type site? Like I run mine under the control of Gurilla.net

No not really. The only site I ever brand my sites with is system0 since this has been my business home page for ages (since around 2002).

How long have you been blogging?

I first used a blogging script around 2003/2004 but I never blogged regularly until around 2005. The blog was a subsection of a forum I ran.

Whats your strategy with your blog in general?

It’s difficult to sum up my strategy in general but I guess the most important thing for I try to do is continue to post good quality posts week in week out. This can be difficult at times, particularly if I’m busy working on another site or working on a design or whatever.

How do you get rss readers?

It’s different for every blog but for the most part, subscribers have grown organically. The first stage of a blogs life is the hardest so I do occasionally give the blog a helping hand. For example, with BloggingTips, after I had written quite a few articles I paid for a lot of paid reviews on blogs in a similar niche. It helped boost subscribers from a few hundred to several hundred in just a few weeks.

Do you give out freebies?

I have given out free money and prizes before but it’s something I haven’t done in a while.

Whats your opinion about the importance of PR in a blog’s life?

Absolutely no importance unless you plan on selling text links which pass Google PR.

Do you consider the top100 list at 45n5.com as authoritative?

I don’t think it can be considered authoritative as it doesn’t include the number of RSS subscribers and for a blog, this is usually the best indication of the popularity of a blog. I can understand why it wouldn’t be included as you cannot assume that every blog uses FeedBurner but for the making money niche, I’d say that 99% of blogs do use it.

For example, at the moment Blogging Tips is at number 10 and has 2,600-2,700 subscribers whereas Zac Johnson has around 3,500 subscribers and is at number 30. In this regard I think that Zacs site should be higher.

However, I do think that it is a useful list and without doubt, the best of it’s kind.

Any thoughts on my post on Blogs are not the authority, the Bloggers are?

With regards to this new trend of developing a blog and then selling, I can see both sides. I myself have made and sold hundreds of websites over the years. It’s a legitimate way to make money in the short term but long term you are not doing yourself any favours.

I can understand why some bloggers are selling out. Most are selling blogs which they are updating frequently and are not making them any money so you can’t blame them for selling them for thousands of dollars. However, I do feel many are selling out too soon, as if they the blog for another year or so they would probably be making a nice monhtly income. Too many bloggers are looking for the quick fix and are not thinking long term

It’s worth noting though, a lot of the blogs being sold are being sold for a lot higher than their true value. If the blogger was smart enough to invest that into a few undervalued sites then it would be a good decision.

Would you sell out your blog at some point?

I have sold hundreds of websites over the last few years and in that respect every website has a price. However, I am not interested in selling BloggingTips anytime soon (I assume this is the blog you were referring to).

Do you think people should sponsor wordpress themes?

It’s not something I am against. My advice would be to take up a sponsor slot if it is well priced. However, in my experience, most sites selling sponsor slots are pricing them way too high. You need to remember, the price of a sponsored template needs to be compared to developing or buying a theme yourself and releasing it. Of course, large websites will distribute templates to a wider audience so that should be taken into consideration too.

What’s your take on sponsored reviews?

I’ve only did one sponsored review on BT so far however I would do more. They’re a good source of income for a blog however they should be used sparingly ie. The majority of your posts should still be regular content. Also, I think that bloggers should remain impartial with their review.

Many bloggers tend to give more positive reviews to those who have paid for a review. This might please your advertisers but in the long run your integrity will come into question. I also think it’s important to put a disclosure in each review and tell your readers that the post was sponsored.

What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?

Their honest opinion – be it about a subject, website, product or whatever.

Did Aweber play a vital role in your growth?

Absolutely none, but I’ve been using it less than 2 weeks and BloggingTips is about 15 months old.

Do you think Pagerank plays a vital role in a blog’s life?

No

Did you ever consider selling links to those underground link sellers, you know, the ones that mail you and ask you to sell in-content links and pay per year.

I started using Kontera recently to try it out though those ads use nofollow tags. I wouldn’t be interested in selling links on such a long basis to be honest.

Did you ever get an offer of selling your blog out of the blue, if so how did you react to it?

I got several offers in the first few months of the blogs life. Strangely, as the blog has grown I’ve had no offers.

What are your thoughts on my free wordpress themes here, be as blunt as you can.

Some are pretty good but some are quite basic (the first ones on the wordpress page in particular). Taking the adsense basics template for example. The letters in the post title are too close together with letters from the line below overlapping the line above. Also, they don’t seem to be ready for the latest version of WP with no widgets and no gravatar support. With the google adsense advert hard coded into the index template the 4th post has a large white space. An if statement should be used to avoid this.

I do think some users would like these though.

Overall what do you think of blueverse, once again be as blunt as offensive as you can.

I like it. It seems like a good blog. Perhaps too many ads at the top plus I’d personally remove the entrecard widget as it sends a lot of traffic away and the traffic which comes back is rarely targeted. The main content area is clear and easy to read though.

However, I don’t think you should be telling your readers that you are likely to sell in the future. People are less likely to subscribe if they think the owner is about to jump ship. If anything, you shouldn’t tell your readers until the blog has been sold.

Any tips for my readers?

Just keep at it, always update your blog with good posts and your blog will grow. Try not to oversaturate your design with too many ads and interact with your readers as much as you can. Above all else, enjoy yourself. If you find that updating your blog is becoming a real bore then you are blogging about the wrong subject.

You can track all the blogging reviews under the Bloggers category or the Blogger Interviews tag.

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