I met “Remarkablogger” (aka Michael Martine) at BlogWorld Expo just a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. I followed up with Michael and asked if I could interview him to get his perspective on blogging and online marketing. Michael works full time as a blog coach and professional blogger. You can reach Michael at www.remarkablogger.com
OK, so let's start from the very beginning....When did you start blogging? And why?
I learned HTML and web design stuff in 1996, and stayed on the edge of what was then the new-ish web culture. So when blogging came to my attention, I knew it was going to be really big, because it was so easy (relatively). I loved the idea of having a personal publishing platform to do with whatever I wanted. I was on Blogger before they were bought by Google, back when it was owned by Pyra Labs.
You are a blogging coach, many people may not know what that means. Can you describe what it is that you do briefly?
I'm the person who can tell you what you should be doing to ensure success with your blog marketing (most of my clients are business owners and the blog is a marketing tool for them). Let's say you ran an ecommerce site and you want to increase traffic to it and raise your search engine rankings without spending tons of money on PPC ads (Pay Per Click). I could help you devise a blog strategy to do that. Or say you were a consultant or a freelancer: how do you use your blog to attract and convert customers? That's the kind of stuff I help people with.
So, if someone wanted to put together a comprehensive team for their online marketing strategy, could they bring you in as part of that team? Especially if they were willing to work with everyone virtually? OR do you prefer to work alone with your clients?
I work in conjunction with others all the time. My core strengths are content marketing, copywriting, and SEO. This is very complimentary to PPC, SEM, SMM, and tie-ins with more traditional marketing channels.
I was reading your "about me" and in the section "What Inspires Me". I really like what you say. I too get very excited about what is happening with the internet, I liken it to the invention of the Cotton Gin. Where do you see things going in the next (I was going to say 5 years but that is a light year for the web) year or so?
Funny you mention that. I read yesterday that Google's Eric Schmidt said that within 5 years we're going to have 100MB/second bandwidth. They must be giving him some special magic Google crack to smoke or something, because that just isn't happening. Not in 5 years. Predictions are difficult because disruptions and unexpected turns keep happening…but I think we'll see that real engagement instead blasting out THE MESSAGE will begin to dominate, and that mobile/social will gain while every old media distribution model will continue to plummet.
Blogging has evolved significantly since the late 90s. In your opinion, why is blogging so important for corporations vs. individuals? Or the key differences that corporations should implement?
Corporate and business blogging is still in its childhood, and it needs to grow up fast. Corporations are especially challenged, because the entire marketing paradigm one must subscribe to in order to market successfully with a blog is completely the opposite of what most corporations are comfortable with. In other words, the corporation itself often has to undergo significant changes in order to truly be successful in this new social, transparent, and participatory culture. Many corporations are experiencing growing pains in this area, like Dell, while others were born with it in their DNA, like Zappos.
Taking it a step back, let's talk about tools. I think everyone wants to generate traffic, what your some basic tools that you use to generate traffic and awareness? OR, what you would suggest to a beginner? Or intermediate blogger?
If you found the rustiest, most bent-up pathetic set of golf clubs in the world, and gave them to Tiger Woods, and you played him with a nice shiny new set of state-of-the-art clubs, guess what? He would still kick your ever-lovin' ass all over the green. It's not about the tools, it's about content and knowledge.
Having said that, smart people learn the importance of keywords and SEO and they integrate that into their content. People can start with Google "free keyword tool" and they can go read the beginner stuff at seobook.com. You can work that knowledge seamlessly into killer content. But without great content, tools are worthless.
Content is King - we hear that a lot.
Yeah, but most people still don't know what that really means.
OK, last two questions & I will try to keep it brief...
Let’s talk about someone who just started blogging, what type of growth can they expect to gain in the first year? If they have fairly good content and a basic understanding of online marketing principles? ….and I know this question is relative.
For most people, the answer will be: very little. You know what the sound of one hand clapping is? A new blog. One way around that is to already have an extensive personal network you can call upon to drive traffic through social media or other channels. And of course, if you have the dough, online advertising.
I have been doing "this" (blogging, social media, online marketing, etc.) for just under a year, from the people I've spoken to, I feel like the magic number is 6. From what I have observed, those who are successful have been online (in one blog or platform) for a minimum of 5 years. Do you think that is too long, too long to expect some sort of "return" whatever you may be looking for in terms of a return? (FYI readers: return does not necessarily have to be money, it can be rankings, it can be engagement, it can be a job, it can be a book deal – depends on your goal)
Yes, if you're really putting in the effort to learn what works and then follow through, you should begin to see decent numbers within two years.
Ok, last question. I will make it "free-style," because I mostly discuss “getting started” with online marketing on my blog, what would be the #1 thing (aside from having great content) that you would tell a newbie?
Depends on what kind of newbie you are. If you're just now starting a blog to market a business, then the best thing I can tell you is to is to know exactly who you're selling (and writing) to (and, no, "everyone" is not the answer). Then figure out how you solve their problem. At the intersection of "people + problem" is all the "great content" you could possibly want. Other than that, put as much of your personality into it as you can. If what you're doing seems scary, that's good.
Thanks Michael! I really like that you keep stressing the "scare factor". After our previous conversation, you have inspired me to write more like "me".
Doesn't exactly play well with risk-averse corporations, but risk-aversion doesn't win awards and bring home the fat bucks.
OH! One last question, I just thought of another one! Give me an example of someone who YOU think is doing a good job?
I would say Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz.com and Clay Collins of Project Mojave are two of the best examples of how business blogging gets customers and sales while being highly personal and inspirational.
And, here is how Michael and I ended our conversation, we are in FULL agreement on this guy… (I started to follow Shit My Dad Says when he had just a few thousand followers, the guy never posts more than a few times a day and I find it really exciting to watch things like this happen. Seemingly out of thin air.)
BTW, if you haven't seen this, you absolutely must: http://www.twitter.com/shitmydadsays This dude's probably going to end up with a book deal. All in the Family 2.0