As part of our BloggersIdeas interview series, today we have Intellectual Tony John sir Founder of techulator, indiastudychannel.com & many other blogs. Today he will be sharing his knowledge on SEO marketing strategies, blog marketing & blog engagement strategies. He has wide range of experience with traffic generation, Affiliate management & has worked with many big brands.
So lets get started with Tony sir.
Thank you Jitendra, for inviting me to this interview. I’m glad to spend some time with you and your readers and share whatever I learnt so far.
Thank you Tony Sir, for your time. Let me get started straight away. How long have you been blogging?
I started my first blog in 1998, without knowing it is going to be called a blog. In fact, it was created just for fun and I was posting my personal achievements and experience there. I never thought it would evolve as a big business eventually.
1998 to 2014 – that’s a long journey! I don’t think there are any other Indian bloggers who have that much experience to claim. How do you feel about your blogging life so far?
Yes, it’s an eventful journey indeed. Blogging went through a lot of changes in the last one decade. When I started, it was called “web log” and the term “blog” came up later. There was no term called “search engine optimization” at that time, even though we were applying various strategies to rank our websites better.
During the early stages, we all blogged for fun and with passion. There were no monetary benefits involved. Even in wildest dreams, I never thought I could make money out of it. Google introduced AdSense program in 2003 and that changed my life. Once I started using AdSense, I realised the true potential of blogging. Within next few years, I started several new blogs and many of them are getting millions of page views per month.
Niche site vs Authority Site. Which is best and why? What are the pros and cons of both?
That depends on your goals. If your goal is develop an authority site, then that’s what you need to aim for. If your goal is money, then the situation is a bit tricky. Authority sites are very hard to build, operate and maintain. For example, my blog Techulator.com is pretty popular and gets good traffic. But my cost to build this blog was pretty high. It took years of hard work and dedication to bring that blog into its current state.
However, in case of niche blogs like HondaMobilio.in, it takes just a few days of efforts and then virtually no running costs. So, in terms of ROI, niche blogs are generally preferable, unless you have a big budget and long term strategies.
However, in case of authority blogs, if you succeed in building credibility and traffic, you could make really good money in the long run. Advertisers are willing to spend huge money on well established blogs.
How people react when they know you are Internet Entrepreneur?
I have had a lot of experience. Many times, it is very hard to convince people about my profession. Most people won’t understand what I do and when they do understand, they would want to quit their job and start a blog!
Recently, I visited a few designer houses in our city to get some ideas for building our own home. One of those house owners asked me about my profession and he could not understand anything about it. At the end, he asked just one question:
“So, your father would has earned enough for you build a house, right?”. It was the first time someone asked me that question on my face but many others would have thought the same in their mind. It is hard to convince people about making money from internet.
Please tell us about yourself and your educational background ?
I am coming from a typical Kerala village. I had never seen a computer until I joined my Masters in Computer Applications course. I possess B.Sc in Physics, B.Ed in Physics and MCA degrees.
Most of the common link building strategies no longer work. Unfortunately, majority of the SEO service providers are not aware of the changes in the SEO world. They still depend on the old ways of blog commenting, forum commenting and guest posting.
Currently, link building still works but has to be done very carefully and slowly. Guest posting is the most efficient method which will work, if and only if done in a very limited manner.
It’s hard to read Google’s mind! They never revealed anything about this. According to my experiments, there is no fixed ratio. It depends on several other factors and overall ranking of the site. In some cases, Google would count the no-follow links as well and in some other cases, it doesn’t. Personally, I never care for the do-follow or no-follow. When I try to get a link from other sites, I do not specify whether it has to do-follow or no-follow. I will leave it to the other website to decide what kind of link to give.
Suppose today a freelancer started giving his own digital marketing services, what all strategies he should apply to get his website successful ?
If someone is offering digital marketing strategies, the first thing he has to do is, market his own business very well. In fact, I do get a lot of emails offering SEO services. I usually ask them how do their own websites rank in Google search results. They won’t respond to me after that!
A digital marketing person should be able to apply the best SEO practices on his own website and get it in the top few results of Google search for his keywords. A strong social media profile and a good portfolio to prove his work history are really important.
That’s a challenge faced by many big brands. The big brands have limitations on going after every comment about them and explain their stand. That’s where the PR companies come into picture. In many cases, some one would have some personal issues on a big brand and might choose to post negative remarks everywhere. A PR company could follow all discussions about their clients and could explain the reality behind it.
How did you enter into blogging, why did you choose blogging over your IT career. What kind of experiences you have while working in IT company ?
I started blogging just out of curiosity to check out how the web works. I was living in USA at that time and I had plenty of free time in the guest house where I was staying. One of my friends showed me his personal website and that’s where I got started with my first blog.
I was working as a software consultant at that time. Blogging was a hobby which I was doing at my free time. I started making money from it by 2004 and by about 2010, I started making more money from blogging than my prestigious job in USA as a software architect.
When I was working in the software field, I was focusing on programming and technology related blogs. Every day, I learnt new things at work, which I translated into blogs when I come home in the evening. Also, for the sake of blogging, I learnt a lot new things, which helped me in the job. Thus, by blog and job mutually helped each other to perform better in both the fields.
In 2011, I quit my job in USA and returned to India, after living there for more than a decade. I decided not to work anymore in the IT field and chose to live a semi-retired life to live the life in the way I want it.
How is your life after returning to India?
Well, I faced a few challenges after returning to India. Since I was away from the country for more than 10 years, lot of things looked unfamiliar to me. I had to re-learn how to deal with everyday problems like dealing with government offices, utilities etc. In US, life is a lot more fun and people enjoy their life. In India, most people are struggling to live a decent life and having fun is nothing more than watching a movie or visiting a shopping mall.
I’m not talking about the elite class who enjoy everything in life, but I am referring to the common men and women. My children had a lot of trouble in adapting to our education system but everything fine now.
What advises you would give to newbie bloggers who wants to continue their blogging journey and want to quit their jobs for that? Is it easy to leave job & start blogging, what is your take on this?
Don’t quit your job just by seeing some dollars in your AdSense account. I quit my job after blogging for more than 13 years and also only after I earned enough from it. The AdSense income could stop anytime. Or, an algorithm change could wipe out the traffic of your blogs. Quitting a good job by seeing the short term revenue from your blogs wouldn’t be a wise decision. I have written an article that talks about my experience and some tips for those who like to quit their job to become a fulltime blogger.
There are thousands of people who attempted to make blogging their full time career but only a few became successful. I would strongly recommend you to try blogging as part time job for a few years and then make a decision. In my case, I am not making any extra money by switching to full time blogging. I was making pretty much the same revenue even when I was doing it part time.
How many websites you are having currently.How much money you are making from them ?
I’m currently running about 40 websites but only 5 of them are really active. My active blogs are www.techulator.com, www.indiastudychannel.com, www.dotnetspider.com, www.aspspider.com, www.studyvillage.com etc. It may look odd to share the revenue reports publicly but let me tell you that I was making more money from my blogs than my salary as a software architect in a multinational company in USA. So, you can guess the figures. Many other professional bloggers are sharing their revenue reports.
You can compare their revenue and traffic statistics with my websites and come to some conclusion. IndiaStudyChannel.com is getting about 4 million pages per month and Techulator.com is getting about 600,000 page views per month. During the peak period, just one of my website – dotnetspider.com alone was making more money than my American salary!
Yes, let me tell you my secret recipe of success – unique content. I usually write on everyday problems I encounter in my own life. I solve those problems and share the solution through my blog. Such articles are getting very good traffic.
Another important reason for my success in blogging is, I was lucky to have started early. I’m probably one of the first bloggers from India who started in late 90’s and that helped me establish my blogs before a lot of competition came into place.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Tony sir. If you have any questions about this interview, please do ask in the comments below !