October 22, 2014

Interview with Kevin Muldoon of Blogging Tips

If you do much reading in this niche, I’m sure you’re familiar with Blogging Tips. i’ve been following Blogging Tips for the past year (or a little longer) and I recently had a chance to interview Kevin Muldoon. I hope you will enjoy getting to know a little bit more about the man behind blog.

I know Blogging Tips is just one of your sites. What others do you own?

At the moment I don’t have many. I update my personal blog www.system0.net sometimes. I also have a joke blog I started last year with a friend but we never really put 100% into it. Apart from the only other blog I update is my tech blog www.electricbandits.com.

How would you compare the opportunity/difficulty of making money from a blog with that of making money from other types of websites?

I’ll be perfectly honest, in many respects it doesn’t stand up that well against other methods of making money online. The main reason for this is time – it can be incredibly time consuming to write blog posts every day. Once your blog has reached a certain level you got pretty good value for the time you spend on your blog but it’s a long journey to that point and you don’t make much money along the way. It’s possible to make money from blogs with a few hundred subscribers however in my opinion a blog doesn’t start making good money until it has about 10,000 subscribers.

Compare this to say, a mini site. I designed a minisite 2-3 years ago which took me about 5 hours to build. I have never updated it since then yet to this day the site consistently brings in $80 a month. On some blog posts I have spent 2-3 hours writing the post and the next day I only have 30 more subscribers so I’m sure you can see what I mean about getting value from the time you spend online.

However, building most types of mini sites is monotonous. It’s incredibly tedious to have to update the same thing for hours on end, copying and pasting. In many respects it’s like a data entry job. Which is one of the reasons why I prefer blogging. I enjoy blogging and it doesn’t feel so much like work which is why I’m ok with making a little less money for my time.

What part of working online do you enjoy the most?

The freedom it gives you. I have no boss, I can sleep late and I can work my work around my lifestyle.

I have spoke in the past about the lack of social interaction in a job like this though and that’s something I miss from working full time. When I worked full time I hated those early mornings, the 2+ hours of commuting per day and most days I hated my job too but I made some great friends and had some great nights out with them.

Unfortunately that’s the price you pay for working yourself. It would be difficult to go back to a full time paid job though which is why I make the effort to keep myself busy by going to the gym and training etc ie. I try not to stay in a dorm room all day in front of a pc!

When Blogging Tips was just getting started, what did you do to promote it and build an audience?

I don’t recall the exact figure but I think I spent close to a thousand dollars on paid reviews at the time. I wrote posts for a month or so and then I planned it so that most of the paid reviews were published on the same week. This helped the blog go from around a hundred subscribers to several hundred in the space of a month or so (I tried to find the exact figure via Feedburner but I recently migrated the account to Google and everything is messed up).

I strongly believe that the hardest part of developing a blog is the first few months. Once you get to around 1,000 subscribers things get a lot easier ie. your posts get linked to more often so you get more traffic organically so you can decrease the amount spend on advertising (or you can keep it the same but by now you should have money coming in too).

Of course, I was an active commenter on a few blogs too but the paid reviews was probably the thing which gave the blog the jump start it needed.

A few months ago you made some significant changes at Blogging Tips in terms of writers, content, and posting frequency. In my opinion as a reader it was a positive move. From your perspective, how have these changes impacted the blog?

They have definitely improved the blog. I had around 15 writers and many were going over the same topics other writers were covering. I had create a private forum room for writers to discuss these kind of matters but most writers were too busy with their own blogs to drop by so the problem continued. It is ironic that with less writers there is now more variety in the topics which are covered.

What are the biggest challenges of running a mult-author blog?

Time and man management. The more writers you have the more people you need to look after.

I do think that for most blogs to be really successful and go over say 30,000 subscribers, they need to get more writers in.

I have definitely made some mistakes along the way with running a multi author blog. I think the secret is to make sure each writer has a focus ie. a certain topic which they will be covering. I also think that it’s better to have a 2 or 3 writers writing a few times a week than 10 writers writing once or twice. This allows readers to connect to authors more and writers will probably take their job more seriously too.

You have a forum as part of Blogging Tips. How hard is it to get a forum moving and to keep it active?

Web development type forums are hard to get started because there are so many of them but once it reaches a certain level they kind of run themselves (compare this with a niche forum which targets a new TV show, this can very quickly get new members and become a busy community).

The forums have certainly grown a lot slower than I had planned though it does seem that many other blogging based forums which have started have had the same problems so perhaps it’s not something I have or have not done.

Making the forum active is one of my main targets over the next few months but I’ve had some problems. In particular, I plan on doing a banner campaign across several blogs but I have struggled no end to actually get these designed! For years I used 20dollarbanners but they aren’t replying to emails. BannersMall were terrible and after a week I had to get a refund because they hadn’t even started it.

Nate Whitehill told me about a guy he uses so I emailed him the other week…but again, that was a disaster. He appeared to be a great designer but more so with static logos than animation and he kept getting things wrong. I asked for a white background and he designed it with a red one. I said I’d prefer to have it white so he did a redesign with a half white and half grey. I then had to remind him I just wanted a plain white background and he emailed me to say that it may be best if we don’t work together haha. I’ll probably just design a basic one myself and advertise it because dealing with banner designers has been a nightmare from start to finish!!!

Do you have any plans (that you can share with us) for adding new sections to Blogging Tips, like the forum and the free themes?

I have a few ideas for adding new features at BloggingTips but most of which will require a programmer to design it from scratch so I’ll probably wait till the site is making more money.

I’ll probably add some more themes over the next few months too. I was planning on picking up some cheap designs via sitepoint/digitialpoint etc but the last one I bought there had horrendous coding and I had to spend a lot of time tidying it up. Therefore it may just go directly to a good blog design company.

I do have some more ideas for the blogging niche but the main question is whether I add them to BloggingTips or a brand new domain and then promote it on BloggingTips. I do want to add more tools for bloggers on the site but I don’t want the site to stray too far away from the main point of the blog.

Are you currently looking for any writers for Blogging Tips?

Yes, I’m always on the lookout for good writers, be it on a guest post basis or full time :)

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

9 comments

  1. When two of my favorite bloggers meet, something nice is bound to happen. Great interview guys!

  2. I enjoyed taking part :)

    Since the interview I actually changed the electricbandits blog to a forum. I was finding it difficult to update the blog on a regular basis so I thought the sites direction had to change. This should hopefully give me more time to blog on my personal blog and on bloggingtips.

    Again, thanks for selecting me as an interviewee :)

  3. It’s funny to read about the banner/ad designers, and I thought I was the one who couldn’t get my point across :) I wanted a solid bg and got stripes, I reiterated I wanted a plain solid, no design background, any color and got a flowery background, at which I just paid them the money but never used the square ad..

    I’m curious about the themes you mentioned from sitepoint as I never understood these things.. Do you buy a theme, customize and then sell it on your blog Kevin? Or if they are free themes, what’s the idea? Is it for link building?

  4. The two initial themes that I released on bloggingtips about 18 months ago were bough on sitepoint. I bought them cheaply and improved them a little by adding some things which were missing and cleaning the code a little.

    Well link building was one aspect but at the time it was mainly about offering a resource so that people visited the site. :)

  5. That sure is a great point.. and BloggingTips is definitely a great resource for us all.. good luck with it’s expansion and growth Kevin..

    Thanks Steven for these interviews, I might steal the idea and start doing them on my blog, especially after reading Kevin’s post on why they are so great :)

  6. Kevin,
    Thanks for the interview and best of luck with the future of Blogging Tips. I like the idea of giving away free blog themes at BT. I’ve been thinking about giving away some WordPress themes at my sites, so we’ll see if I can find time to get that done.

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