I’m the Creative Director of Marketing & Communications for AmeriFirst Home Mortgage. A former TV news producer, content creation and audience development (lead generation) comes pretty naturally to me. As an advocate of inbound marketing, my story & that of AmeriFirst has been featured in several podcasts, articles and videos and has led to my speaking at HubSpot’s Inbound Conference for 3 years. In my spare time, I’m a blended family dad and a founding board member of Talons Out Honor Flight.
Please tell us something about yourself. Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
Blogging is part of my profession. I started as the blogger & social media “guy” at AmeriFirst Home Mortgage almost 5 years ago. We had no other corporate marketing efforts going on, so I grew in the role to take on other duties, developing a true marketing department. Blogging is still something I do for AmeriFirst – we fully believe in the benefits – but also something I do for my personal brand and the Honor Flight program I’m involved with in my spare time.
When did you get an idea to launch your own blog and how important is it for you to be online?
After running the AmeriFirst blog for a year or so and seeing the audience grow, I launched my own marketing blog to build my personal brand. I wanted to share the experience I was gaining with others. My personal blog – The Inbound Evangelist – is a place to share marketing ideas, tips and experiences to help foster the inbound movement. I’m a big fan of shaking up the current status quo of the marketing & advertising world.
Did you have someone help you make the website or did you do it by yourself?
For AmeriFirst, we work with HubSpot for our platform, and had a company – ClearPivot – help us design it. For The Inbound Evangelist, I found a simple theme I liked and went with it. Since it’s not a blog/website I’m looking to monetize or become the next Seth Godin with, I’m happy with the simple site I built on my own.
The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for your blog?
I came up with theinboundevangelist.com rather quickly. I knew that’s what I was, I looked to see if it was taken, and purchased it. For that site it was really a no-brainer. But it’s also a branded URL so-to-speak. I haven’t given thought to other URLs that might be search terms that people looking for inbound marketing might look for…
What kind of Theme do you use on your blog and what are the “must have” plugins for a blog?
My blog is very simple. I use the Twenty Twelve theme on WordPress with no plug-ins. It’s truly “just a blog” where I offer ideas and insights.
What CMS (Content Management System) do you use on your blog? How hard is it to navigate within your CMS (making a new post, inserting images, moderating comments, etc.)?
For the AmeriFirst website, we use HubSpot as our content platform – called a COS in that world. That’s Content Optimization System. Navigation is extremely easy and user-friendly.
How much time do you spend blogging?
For AmeriFirst, we post 5 times per week and an article will take me anywhere from an hour to maybe 3 hours to write. I’ve already done most of the common-sense, industry research so it’s pretty natural by now.
For The Inbound Evangelist, I’ll spend a little more time on an article, but publish much less often. So if I publish once a month or once every couple of weeks, I’ll spend maybe 10 hours per month on that.
When you add in the other blogging – guest blogging, Honor Flight and that kind of content – I would add another 10 hours per month.
How do you promote your blog? Do you use social media channels to attract more visitors to your blog?
Blog promotion happens through social media, guest blogging and emailing the current subscribers while empowering them to share with share buttons (email, social).
Is there a way to monetize (make money) through a blog?
Probably, but I don’t. The Inbound Evangelist is there to host my eBook and my professional thoughts and tips. The AmeriFirst blog is there to educate the public on the mortgage process – which of course drives leads and clients, but it’s not monetized on the blog.
Would you encourage other people to make their own blogs?
Definitely. If you have any reason to “get found” in the world, blog. It’s the simple first step in a content marketing strategy. If you have any need to build a personal brand (professional, services, creative, etc.) then having a blog helps you build an audience and rise in the search engine results for your niche. Blogging is to marketing as exercise is to healthy living. Consistency, context and creation are key.
Of course, constantly blogging poorly written drivel will likely result in no audience and no search engine results, so be sure to make your blog relevant and readable. Don’t blog to simply clutter up the world with more words.
Please give us some advice for new bloggers and for people who are still not sure if they need a blog of their own?
The best advice I’ve found, backed by data, is at this link: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blogging-frequency-benchmarks
HubSpot shows that companies that blog more than 16 times per month drives tons more traffic (about 3 and a half times more) than companies that don’t blog. Right now it’s the fuel the feeds the “get found” machine.
One final thought: blogging and having your own website is like owning a home. Social media is like crashing at a friend’s place. You don’t own social media. Tomorrow Facebook may decide businesses no longer have a place in that world. Unlikely, but they’ve changed their algorithm to push content from brands lower and lower … unless you pay for ads. Your website is your home – you own it. Blogging is the way to keep your website living and breathing, which is what search engines want.
Photos ©: The Inbound Evangelist
START YOUR OWN BLOG
This guide is an introduction to mastering the art of blogging. It provides easy to follow steps to start, maintain, and grow your blog.