Interviewing Steven Snell from Traffikd
Brief Intro about yourself?
I’m a web designer and freelance blogger in the U.S. I currently maintain 3 blogs of my own and I write for a handful of others including Smashing Magazine and Freelance Switch.
How did you get started?
I got started with blogging in attempt to get some content on my site that would pull in some search engine visitors who were looking for web design services. The blog kind of unexpectedly took off, I learned a lot through the process, and now I spend way more time writing than I ever thought I would.
Do you run your blog under any “Media” type site? Like I run mine under the control of Gurilla.net
No. I keep everything at my own domains (except for my freelance work).
How long have you been blogging?
It’s been a little over a year now, probably about 15 months.
Whats your strategy with your blog in general?
To sum it up, I would say that my strategy is to provide readers with the content that they want. Everyone has different likes and dislikes in terms of content, but no one likes to see the same rehashed posts over and over again. I try to take a unique approach or go more in-depth than other blogs do. If readers like the content, everything else will follow. I do keep a close eye on traffic stats and subscriber counts, but primarily to use that as a gauge to see what readers are responding to. About 6 months in to blogging I made drastic changes to my approach with my primary blog (my only one at the time) because I was looking at the trends of my statistics and seeing that a small percentage of what I was writing was producing almost all of the results. I got more focused with my content and the results have been better than I expected.
How do you get rss readers?
Early on I got a decent number of subscribers by doing a lot of guest posts (I highly recommned this to any blogger) and by networking with other bloggers. Guest posting is actually a great way to get to know some influential people in your niche. Now I think most of my subscribers come through links and referrals from other blogs as well as through social media.
Could you tell me, in as many words as you can, what made you stand out in blogging?
Consistent effort. That’s really what it comes down to in my opinion. If someone is willing to learn and put in a decent effort on a consistent basis, building a blog is very possible. Making money from it isn’t always so easy, but getting readers and earning some recognition can be done by anyone that wants to make it happen. So many bloggers seem to give up too quickly even though they say they are in it for the long-term. Every new blogger will have struggles and get frustrated at times, but those who keep working through it and learning about what readers want will have success.
Do you give out freebies?
Not at this point. I would love to give out some WordPress theme’s or something relevant to designers and bloggers, but I just haven’t had the time to develop anything. Hopefully in the future.
Whats your opinion about the importance of PR in a blog’s life?
I couldn’t care less about PageRank. Some advertisers care about it, but I use nofollow tags on ads, so it’s pretty irrelevant. Search engine rankings and the visitors that arrive through searches are significant to me, but PageRank doesn’t always correspond with rankings.
Do you consider the top100 list at 45n5.com as authoritative?
Yeah, for the niche I would consider it authoritatibe. The blogs at the top of the list are all very successful, so it must be indicative of something. I think it was a great idea and it’s more of a fun or entertaining thing in my opinion. No blog needs to be high on that list to be successful, but there are definitely some benefits and I think it can change how some readers see you as an authority on the subject.
Any thoughts on my post on Blogs are not the authority, the Bloggers are?
Sorry, I’m not familiar with the post.
Would you sell out your blog at some point?
I wouldn’t rule it out. I have no intentions of selling any of my three blogs, but it is a lot to manage. If I were to sell it would be done in order to free up time to pursue something else. I don’t think I would ever sell just because I could get some quick money for my blog.
Do you think people should sponsor wordpress themes? http://www.blueverse.com/resources/wordpress-themes/
It depends on how they are sponsored. As long as everything is clear and up front, I don’t have a problem with it. I hate to hear about hidden or deceptive links in free themes that are distributed, so in that way I would be against sponsored themes. I also wouldn’t support the practice of having sponsored links in free themes that are not allowed to be removed by users.
What’s your take on sponsored reviews?
I’ve personally never done a sponsored review, although I have been tempted. Generally, I don’t like them as a reader so I assume my readers wouldn’t like them either. I won’t unsubscribe from a blog because of a few sponsored reviews and I think they’re a perfectly acceptable way to monetize a blog, but I think they have some negative effects as well. At some point I’ll probably do a sponsored review on a blog, but only in the right situation.
What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?
I think unique and interesting content is the best thing a blogger can give readers. That’s why most readers are subscribing and visiting. Next to that, I would say a personal connection is also important.
Did Aweber play a vital role in your growth?
I’ve never used their services.
Do you think Pagerank plays a vital role in a blog’s life?
No, not in my opinion.
Could you give me a statement for everyone using the feedburner hack here:
I can understand why some bloggers would want to game FeedBurner, but I wouldn’t do it. The main reason (aside from the whole honesty/deception issue) is that down the road you’re going to want to know how many subscribers you really have, and if you game the system you won’t be able to know for sure. I think FeedBurner’s numbers are probably not all that accurate, most subscribers skip over the majority of content in their feed readers, but at least you can compare yourself to other blogs in your niche to see where you stand.
What would you prioritize? Content? SEO? Traffic? Readers?
Content. It will lead to the other three. The right content will get you readers (maybe not right away, but with some effort), plenty of traffic, and it will even help your search rankings by drawing inbound links. I think having a search engine-friendly blog is important, but all-out SEO isn’t necessary for most bloggers.
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.
Yes. When my blog was only a few months old and right before Google started going nuts with penalizing link sellers I had a few tempting offers. What made me decide not to was the content of the ads (the text seemed spammy) and the long-term committment. Then, after the Google penalties to other bloggers I have never considered it.
Did you ever get an offer of selling your blog out of the blue, if so how did you react to it?
No, I haven’t. Want to make an offer? I guess that wouldn’t be out of the blue though would it. None of them are for sale anyway. I think my blogs are worth more to me (because of the effort I’v eput into them and the future that I see with them) than they would be worth on paper.
What are your thoughts on my free wordpress themes here, be as blunt as you can.
Wow, you have a lot! I think the meta blogger series is my choice. I like the red, white and black versions the most. Blue Verse 5 is also one of my favorites. I have a general hatred for AdSense (I wouldn’t have said it, but I’m supposed to be blunt), but that’s just a personal opinion and I think I’m in the minority there. One thing I really like right now in the WordPress community is speciality themes. For example, a theme created for an e-commerce site, for a gallery site, a job board, for a real estate agent, etc. Even sports and political themes are pretty popular. I would suggest trying something like that since you have so many general themes. Just my suggestion.
Overall what do you think of blueverse, once again be as blunt as offensive as you can.
Back when I used to have more time I followed the blog and I thought the content was pretty good. You’ve defitintely accomplished a lot with Blue Verse. I really like that you’ve made it more than just a blog. The extras give it some added character. On the subject of design, I think I liked the old theme a little better, but that’s just personal preference.
Any tips for my readers?
Keep working. When other bloggers around you are giving up or slowing down, keep moving forward.