Let’s learn from his experience and start the interview.
Hi Everyone, I’m Harsh Agrawal a Professional Blogger from India and an engineer by education. I started Blogging just after college and it was all out of curiosity and because of my hunger to learn more. I blog about WordPress, SEO and Blogging and you can see my work at ShoutMeLoud.
I work from home from last 4 years and it has been an amazing journey for me. I learned new things every day, meet awesome people every day in the form of readers, get to learn about latest technology and web stuff and in one word I’m a “Solopreneur“.
I started my Blogging journey in 2008 with BlogSpot like most of newbies and within a month, I realized the importance of having a self hosted Blog for more exposure, and no wonder I opted for WordPress. That time, I was really unaware of power of WordPress, but I jumped into it as most of top blogs I knew where using WordPress. My real eye opener for Blogging was Wordcamp event which happened in New Delhi in 2009, where I get to meet people like Matt and Om Malik and that gave me a great motivational boost in the initial days of Blogging.
I got to know about WordPress around October 2008 and I’m not sure how, but I was watching few videos on Youtube where I learned about how WordPress works. Later on, I see most of top blogs which I follow (Problogger.net, Dailyblogtips), were using WordPress and I could clearly see the limitations of BlogSpot and in November 2009, I bought a domain and hosting from Dreamhost and started my Blogging journey with WordPress.
I have always been a learner and I love to share and talk about things which I know. I started a BlogSpot blog in August 2008, and I used to write mostly about Technology. My real exposure came when, one of my article made Digg front page and on a single day I received almost 20K visits, which was unbelievable for me that time.
So, I thought of taking Blogging to next level and get a custom domain and hosting and start with a self hosted blog for total control. The most critical part was branding the domain with a catchy and memorable name, and after thinking about it for a week, one fine day Shout-Me-Loud word striked me and it was unique. Since, I was a college pass-out and didn’t had any credit card to buy hosting, I took help of my friend and bought one year hosting along with domain name.
ShoutMeLoud was initially started as Tech blog, but later on I started writing about Blogging, WordPress and SEO. All the posts were written from self learning and self-experience. I got good reaction and push from my readers and later on Blogging & WordPress become the main niche.
My major decision making point was to take Blogging as a Profession or join Accenture and keep blogging as a side business. That time, I Was making almost $1000/month from Blogging and I realized I could do better if I take it as a full-time job. I opted for it and I don’t regret it anytime now, which you can see from ShoutMeLoud monthly income reports.
In between, I got few good media coverage and I started to explore more. The real upset for me was last year when Panda hit my blog and I lost almost 40% traffic and my traffic was dying every day. At one point, I stopped publishing for a week but later on I realize it’s just an algo and I have to learn from my mistake. That’s the time, when I dived into the world of SEO and started getting more closer to it. One of my article How to recover from Google panda, was an outcome of my experience.
There are many things which we need to take care when it comes to networking. We have to prioritize many things, as in professional Blogging it’s just not only about readers but we should make good relation with Other Bloggers, service providers in our niche, Industry leaders and PR guys.
For readers, the best way to network is with Blog comments and your social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and any other channel which you use. They are looking for a solution to the problem or many of them don’t know the problem until they are aware of it.
To connect with other bloggers, you need to use your personal skills. Bloggers meet, media event is one of the best way to get started and once you meet a Blogger who share the same views like you, make a connection. It should be a perfect combo of Professional + personal touch. If you are in same town, meet them once in a while. If not, stay in touch over phone, Skype or any other communication channel. Though, do understand like you, he has his priorities and respect the time. Make all your communication and interaction meaningful.
For PR and media companies:
It’s your work that they need. They are not interested in your personal life, so keep the communication professional. The only key is constant communication because with PR companies, “out of sight is out of mind” holds true.
I’m from India, and despite of most of freelancing work outsourced from here, People like Freelance writers, developers and other niche people are failed to start something of their own. I have been asked by many of my close friends to teach them blogging as they want to earn from home. Most of these people are Freelancer, Housewives or some of them are retired army officer.
I realized, with a blog it’s easier to offer content but having a place, where only premium content and forum support is offered, this could create a huge difference and I may fulfill my vision of bringing Blogging as a career in my country.
So, right now I would like not to give a detailed information until it’s launched but right now, on the top of my priority list is creating a membership site to make people understand learn about Blogging for money, how to use WordPress and How to create a successful blog which can generate decent income working from home.
I’m not sure about the deadline as this is in initial stage, but I’m sure it will be coming anytime by next year.
Along with it, I’m focusing more on Video Blogging and setting up a Video studio at my house. You might see me more on talking about Blogging and WordPress on my Youtube channel @denharsh.
I thought Blogging is/was easy but it’s not. When you are opting Blogging as professional career, everything changes. Along with keeping up readers expectations, you need to work on monetization and many other things.
If I recall it properly, I would emphasize more on learning SEO and specially WordPress SEO. At the initial days, most of my traffic source was Blog commenting and despite of publishing 3-4 articles a day, I was missing traffic. Later on, few of my online friends helped me to learn about all in one SEO plugin and meta values, and I realized I was missing a lot.
Another thing which I realized over the time is importance of using a Premium theme. In the initial days, I changed my theme every week which not only broke down the SEO structure of my blog but also hampered my blog branding and identity. The best thing to do is, grab a Premium theme and stick to it for long. If you wanna change something, focus on offering better user experience in the form of content, navigation, site speed and community building.
The way Internet is evolving, WordPress will grow and change drastically in next 5 years.. BuddyPress may become part of WordPress …It may evolve from Blogging platform to a complete social network, as everything search and sales are getting more dependent on Social recommendation and it has to be a part of it.
More over, WordPress will not just be a web platform, it will also grow in mobile sector and soon, WordPress will be more than just CMS…It’s hard to say, how technology will change but yes, WordPress growth is immense and you can see how serious Automattic team is about their iOS and other mobile os Apps with recent massive upgrade.
At the time of writing, I’m using following apps/services:
I could go on talking about Blogging day and night and I believe it’s better I should end myself with a thank you note, before I keep on talking. Thanks again for having me here and thanks to your readers for giving their valuable time to read this interview.