Every blog has a story. Whether as a side project, accidentally or just thrown together for fun – every blog is something special in its own way.
Some of the best blogs in the world started as one thing and ended as another. That’s the amazing thing about blogging – anyone can start a blog and there are no rules to follow when you get started.
John Hunter kept trying to convince his work that they should get into the world of blogging, but he kept banging on the wall. Instead, John took matters into his own hands and started his own blog and never looked back.
Learn more about John and his blog series in this latest edition of Meet the Bloggers.
1.) Please tell us something about yourself and how you got into blogging.
My background is in improving the organization’s performance (improving management).
From then on I switched to software development as I was struggling to get IT departments to deliver what was needed and found it easier to just build it myself.
Over time, my official role changed to the software development department. I also retained responsibility for improving management.
I actually started blogging when I suggested that my organization create a blog for the benefit of the organization and repeated attempts to do so have failed. I just decided to start my own blog. This was similar to my decision to just build my own software solutions – although in this case I did so outside of work.
At that time (2004) I had my curious cat management improvement website. I decided to start with a science and technology blog (I worked for an engineering association) and a management improvement blog.
I wasn’t sure if I had that much to say about science and technology, so both of me wanted to try and see if blogging was a good fit for me. I started Blogger to quickly and easily get a feel for how it was going and if I wanted to keep going.
After a few months, I decided I liked it and started self-hosted blogs using WordPress: Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog and Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog.
As part of the self-hosted blog launch, I also decided to start a third blog: Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog. I’ve been active with these blogs for 10 years now. I also finally convinced the work to start a blog, although it is now dormant.
I wrote a book based on my management blog – Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability. I used Leanpub which allows you to automatically convert your blog into a draft book. Then I had to make some pretty tough changes, but it was a great start. I discussed the process on a podcast with Leanpub.
2.) You have written multiple blogs in different niches. Why did you choose these niches?
I write about what interests me, that’s how I choose. I have added numerous blogs over the years for the same reason. If I want to keep posting that I don’t think would fit on an existing blog and decide it’s worth a new blog, I’ll create a new blog.
One couple I started with topics that interested me had a duel motif; I was also motivated to see if they could bring in some money. Years before I started my nomad digital lifestyle, I was planning this idea (or something similar) and trying to build some sources of income.
This experiment to get money out of the blogs didn’t work very well for me. Some websites have made much better money for me over the years. I just think it worked for me this way, no innate difficulty making money blogging.
Over time, the topics of these first three blogs and a new topic (travel) have remained the main topics I’d like to blog about. Even so, I’ve started several new blogs in niches among these topics and a few outside of them.
The Curious Cat Blog Network has grown to 18 blogs. I would say roughly half are pretty active, about a post a month, and others are less active but still worthwhile (in my opinion).
Orangutan with baby in Semenggoh National Park, Borneo, Malaysia by John Hunter
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
Not very good. I use AdSense and Amazon, and occasionally direct advertisers contact me. I don’t do monetization on most of the blogs.
I think the experience and reputation can certainly bring benefits to a career that outweighs direct monetization (consulting, freelance work, hiring, seminars, etc.). I’ve probably benefited this way, but it’s hard to measure what the success is due to.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started blogging?
The only thing I wish I knew I could think of, I still don’t know: This is how I find someone who can find direct advertising for me.
Just waiting for people to contact me about advertising makes more money than other sources of income. I believe it has to be profitable to pay someone who knows their stuff to do more advertising.
I’m not very interested in marketing or looking for advertisers. My attempts to find a service that would find advertisers did not work and attempts to hire someone to find advertisers for the blogs also failed.
5.) Which three blogs do you visit almost every day?
I use Inoreader every day to manage my blog feeds and read a lot of blogs. But I don’t have clear leaders or individual blogs that I visit on a daily basis.
Every day I read: Reddit, HackerNews and Twitter.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools / services that you use for your blogging?
I use Inoreader to organize blog feeds, WordPress to run my blogs, and Hootsuite to schedule tweets.
Screenshot of the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
7.) What advice would you have for someone just starting their first blog?
Write about your passion. Most blogs go away pretty quickly. I think mostly because people tried to write about something they don’t care about – or they just don’t really want to write.
Finding out that blogging isn’t for you is fine. But it’s a shame not to give yourself a fair chance to like it. And that often happens when someone chooses a topic they are not passionate about.
Most success takes time and more time than most people think. Prepare for a marathon, do not think that for 2 months you will do a great job and be extremely successful (but if you have another big fan base – musicians, comedians …).
8.) What is the best advice or tip you have come across since starting blogging?
The best advice is what I mentioned above; Write about your passion. If you are passionate, not only can you learn about the subject, but you can also share ideas with your readers that are worthwhile.
9.) If you only had $ 100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I would pay to host a WordPress blog on my own domain.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Thanks again to John for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you are interested in learning more about other bloggers and how they succeed online, be sure to check out our blogger interview series.