I met Michael Kwan a few years ago through my good friend John Chow. It’s funny because we’ve been working together for a couple of years now and Michael writes a lot for me on this blog, but we really still have to meet. Apparently, most of the internet business and blogging is done this way these days. This is another reason why it is important that we continue to learn more from each other through this “Meet the Blogger” interview series!
1.) Please tell us something about yourself and how you got into blogging.
My name is Michael Kwan and I am a professional freelance writer. You might have seen some of my articles on blogging tips here. I started blogging before blogging was really a thing. As early as 1999, with my thoughts, I started an e-mail newsletter that was sent to a small distribution list consisting mainly of my friends. It evolved into a Geocities website a few years later and I finally started Beyond the Rhetoric in 2006 as my first “true” blog running on a real blog CMS. I’ve always had an interest in writing, so it felt like a natural fit to pursue a career in writing and have your own blog.
2.) What is the main focus of your blog and why did you choose this niche?
Beyond the Rhetoric approaches a number of different topics, but many of them have to do with the freelance business. They may be talking about how best to manage customer preferences or some of the best strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance when working from home. I recently wrote about what freelancers can learn from Abraham Lincoln, for example. There are also posts on finance and money management, as well as grammar tips, memorable quotes, and advice on personal development.
The blog’s focus is twofold. First, I want to provide a platform where I can give advice to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and home business owners, but I also want to get them thinking. Maybe I’m just a philosopher at heart. The second goal was to make the content more varied. That way, it wouldn’t feel so serious all the time. That’s why I mix things up with restaurant and movie reviews from time to time.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
The traffic is mainly monetized by Google AdSense and Text Link Ads as well as some display advertising in the form of banners. There are some Amazon affiliate links in certain posts too, but that’s pretty minimal. Indirectly, the blog serves as passive marketing for my freelance writing services as it gives potential clients an insight into my general writing style.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started blogging?
The platform is important. When I started with Geocities, I manually updated each page by manually editing the HTML. When Beyond the Rhetoric first launched, I was using a proprietary CMS from GoDaddy that was barely adaptable or flexible. If I had known back then, I would have started WordPress from the start. Migrating the posts from the GoDaddy CMS to WordPress was a frustrating exercise and I wouldn’t wish anyone else.
5.) Which three blogs do you visit almost every day?
Aside from the blogs that I regularly post on, most of the blogs I read on a daily basis are related to my work. I keep up with the world of consumer electronics and gadgets by reading blogs like The Verge. That being said, I read Miss 604 for local Vancouver coverage and xkcd for insightful giggles.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools / services that you use for your blogging?
WordPress is for sure one of the most flexible and versatile content management systems that you can use. It’s free too. Hootsuite is my favorite social media dashboard, which allows me to manage multiple social media profiles from a single web interface as well as the mobile app. And third, RSS graffiti is a great way to syndicate your RSS feed on your Facebook page.
7.) What advice would you have for someone just starting their first blog?
Write about what you love and stick with it. You will be in tremendous growing pain at the beginning and when you see that you are only making 30 cents on AdSense in that first month it is easy to get discouraged. Growing a blog is a long process and you have to love writing about your niche to keep going even if the numbers don’t really back it up.
8.) What is the best advice or tip you have come across since starting blogging?
Metrics are important. When I first started I didn’t really do much to keep track of my traffic or audience, but this type of information is incredibly useful for so many reasons. Use those insights on Facebook, implement analytics on your blog, and so on. Advertisers want this data and should provide it to you.
9.) If you only had $ 100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
Of course, your costs can vary and you may be able to find better deals, but there are some basics you might want to cover. A domain costs around $ 10 and basic shared hosting costs around $ 80 per year. It is important to have your own domain from the start. Hire a designer to create a header image and logo for your blog. You can go on Fiverr to do these for $ 5 each.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mkfreelance and https://www.facebook.com/beyondtherhetoric
Thank you again Michael 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.