Daniel Scocco Interview
Please tell us something about yourself. When did you get an idea to launch DailyWritingTips.com and how important is for you to be online?
I was born in Brazil, but moved to Italy at the age of 15. I created my first websites back in 2005 (I was 17 or so), and I decided to launch them in English, because I wanted to reach a global audience. Given that English is not my first language and yet I was using it professionally, I figured that I should strive to improve my English skills, and launching a website with English and writing tips seemed like a good way to do so! I launched DailyWritingTips.com early in 2007, and it grew a lot over the years, becoming one of the leading sites on the English/Grammar niche. Our articles have been mentioned on many mainstream newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune, and over 30 U.S. Universities recommend us on their websites, so I am pretty proud of that website!
Did you have someone help with making your website or did you do it by yourself?
I always had paid writers on that site. My goal is to have the highest quality level with our content, so I always hired writers with excellent qualifications. For instance, Maeve Maddox was our editor for 5+ years, and she holds an English PhD and has published several books. Our current editor, Mark Nichol, is a former editing instruction on Berkeley University.
What CMS and theme do you use on your website and what are the “must have” plugins you would recommend?
The site runs on WordPress. I started using a freely available WP theme, but after an year or so I decided to hire a designer to create a custom theme. A couple of years ago I re-designed the site to make it cleaner and mobile responsive. That is the theme we are using right now. Here’s one tip for people who want a custom made theme without spending a fortune: get the design made with a contest at 99.designs.com. You’ll spend around $1000 there. After that go to P2H.com to get the PSD (Photoshop file) transformed into a responsive WP-theme. You’ll spend around $600 for the coding part. Total will be around $1600 for a high-quality, custom made WordPress theme. If you hire a design company to do the same job, they will probably ask for $3000 or more.
As we can all see, you are a passionate blogger! How much time do you actually spend blogging?
I love to write, and used to do a lot of it. Combining all my sites and blogs I have over 2000 blog posts and articles published online. That being said, these days I don’t have a lot of time to write anymore. I am focusing on building online apps and software, so most of my time is spent coding and doing business related tasks. Whenever time allows I still open my text editor and crank out an article or two, usually for my personal blog.
And what about your blog content – how do you promote it?
When I write a post that I believe delivers a lot of value I try to get it in front of as many people as possible. First I promote it on social media, which in my case is Facebook and Twitter, so I share the post on my accounts. Second, I send an email to my list inviting the subscribers to check the post out. Third, I promote on relevant news aggregators like Reddit.com and News.Ycombinator.com. Finally, I email friends who own websites and blogs and ask for them to take a look. If they like it they might mention on their sites.
Which social media channels do you consider to be the most important and how do you divide your time up between them?
I think it depends on the niche of your site or blog. For instance, image-driven niches like travel or celebrities will probably do well on Pinterest and Instagram, while professional stuff tend to do better on LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter are the most neutral ones, so pretty much everyone should have a presence there in my opinion.
If you had to pick the top three reasons for your success what would they be?
- Passion. I love building websites and online businesses. I find it fun and exciting, and I that probably helps a lot.
- Consistency. I didn’t make a lot of money during my first couple of years. But I kept working hard, and eventually the results started to appear.
- Discipline. Even loving what I do, there are days when I don’t feel like working. Heck, there are weeks that I don’t feel like working! I always try to overcome those and do what i got do to keep moving forward.
You’re also an owner of DailyBlogTips – a site that focuses on the “pro” side of blogging. What would you say has been the biggest lesson you learn from running it?
The curious thing is that people always assumed that DailyBlogTips.com was my biggest and most profitable site, exactly because it talks about making money online. That is not the case, however. I have other sites that are much larger and more profitable than DailyBlogTips, on niches that people would not guess can be popular and profitable! The takeaway for me is that you need to think out of the box and experiment as much as possible, cause you never know where a home-run is going to come from.
Do you have any other writers projects besides DailyWritingTips and DailyBlogTips that you would like to share with our readers?
Many of our readers on DailyWritingTips are aspiring or established freelance writers, and for that reason we receive a lot of emails from them asking about where to find freelance writing jobs, how to charge more for their work and so on. For that reason I decided to launch WritersHQ.com, a site with tools and resources to help freelance writers make money. The demand for freelance writing services is booming these days, but if you don’t know where to go and what strategies to use, making decent money writing online will be quite a challenge. That is the problem I want to solve with this new project!
You’ve got a pretty good thing going, obviously, but if there’s one truth of the internet, it’s that things change. Where are you going from here?
That is a very important point. I believe that everyone should diversify two things: income sources and investments. In other words, you should have different sources of income (e.g., online businesses, rent on property you own, consulting or freelance services you provide, websites that make money with advertising, etc.) and you should also have a diversified investment portfolio (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, structured notes, even gold!).
My websites still provide a good chunk of my income, but I am trying to diversify by building other online businesses. WritersHQ.com is one of them, and after that I want to build a company to provide marketing services in a scalable way.
Any tips for future bloggers or writers who are considering following your steps in creating their online presence?
- Pick a niche/topic that you are passionate about and that therefore you are willing to stick with for a couple of years at least. It is very hard to achieve good results in the short term (e.g., the first year or two), so if you pick a niche you don’t like you will probably give up too soon.
- Focus on creating value. The more valueble your site is for your target visitors, the more money you will make, be it with advertising or by offering services/products.
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