Driving traffic to your blog or website can be just as much a pain as driving through road traffic. The route is filled with distractions. Detours that promise results actually run you in circles. Social media networks feel like high-speed freeways when you're drawing audiences in droves, but can resemble a traffic jam when your competitors are getting in the way of your message. [caption id="attachment_25501" align="alignleft" width="240"]
Follow John on Twitter[/caption]Hundreds of thousands of readers trust John Paul Aguiar's streamlined online marketing advice – and with good reason. John Paul is an entrepreneur and coach named #6 on the Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers list. He overcame a debilitating illness that knocked him out of the traditional workforce by becoming a blogging and social media expert. His super successful site, The Money Dummy Blog, is filled with social media insights that helped make him a success.We talked about his negative and positive experiences that lead him to become a world known and respected business blogger, as well as how he attacks social media challenges every day.
Nico: Hi John, thank you for participating in this interview. For those who don't know you, can you give us a little background on what you do and how you got involved in blogging?
John: Thank you for having me, Nico. Right now, I help bloggers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners learn how to use a blog and social media to grow their businesses. I got started over 20 years ago after getting a kidney transplant. I needed a way to make money that wasn't a "job," so I came online and started doing MLM and eBay selling. I had great success with both, so I decided to start a blog where I could share what I was doing and how to make money online. The blog has become more than that. It has turned into what I do now, which is helping grow blogs and businesses with marketing, social media, SEO, and so on.
Nico: I believe that from the time you discovered the internet and when you launched your Money Dummy blog in 2010, you must have made some mistakes that taught you what to do and what not to do. What were your biggest mistakes and what did you learn from them?
John: Honestly, I still make mistakes today, and I'm okay with that. Making mistakes means I am taking action, trying new things, and constantly growing. But my biggest mistake was back when I got started on Twitter. I used it and I followed all the "expert" tips I could find. After six months, I had no success – just a lot of wasted time. It was so bad that I completely left Twitter for two years. Once I decided to come back, I decided to test my own theories, and finally started to see real success: more traffic to my blog, more influence, more attention, and more money. Using Twitter was responsible for 75% of my blog's success in the first four years and the main platform that got me #6 on the Forbes Top Social Media Influencers list. If I had never come back to Twitter, I wouldn't be where I am today. So the takeaway is to not blindly follow anyone's advice, expert or not – not even my advice. What you do is take what you learn and test it for yourself. Advice should be your starting point, not your only point.
Nico: "Social media expert," "blogging entrepreneur," and "marketing expert" are how people have defined you online. Is it essential nowadays to be multi-skilled to succeed as a blogger? What are some blogging tasks that you could (or should) actually outsource?
John: I don't know about "expert," but I know a few things that have helped me and many clients succeed. To be a successful blogger today, you need to be skilled in everything. It's not enough to be just be a great writer. You need to treat your blog like a business. You need to be an entrepreneur, you need to be a marketer, you need to build your brand, you need to build relationships. I wouldn't outsource too much, just things like editing a blog post, slideshare and video creation, graphic design, and so on.
Nico: Looking at the number of followers on your social media channels, it seems that you mainly focus your efforts on Twitter (146k followers) and Google+ (40k followers). Are those the key social networks to create traffic for your blog? How can you determine the best social network for promoting your content?
John: Twitter is my #1; Google+ was a good platform, but it is dead now. I focus on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. You have to find what platforms fit your blog or business. For example, if you have a visual business or blog like a photographer, then you should be on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Facebook. I would hard-focus on three platforms, but have a presence on all of them. For me, Twitter should always be #1. Twitter is the only platform that I can get you on in three days and have traffic going to your blog. No other SM platform will do that without spending money.
Nico: You're a big advocate of leveraging social media. Any advice on how to successfully outsource social media for a business owner?
John: Social media works best if you manage it, if you control it, if you are engaged. But if you have to outsource it, then you want to have someone who knows what your goals are with SM, why you are there. You should still be active, pop in through the day and reply and make comments, be engaged. Outsource the postings and the scheduling and the content, but make sure to still be active and available. It's your business, so you have to make your presence felt on SM to see real success.
Nico: I've already asked this question to Jeff Bullas, but I'm sure that Fiverr's community, which is mainly made of entrepreneurs and small business owners, will be very curious to know about competing with the big brands out there using content marketing and social media. Any tips?
John: The thing that big brands don't have is personality. You as a smaller brand can be personal. You can bring your personality to your content and to your time on social media. Know your brand's message, know the questions your brand is here to answer, and answer them as often as possible to the people that need to see it. With the world we live in today, it is very easy to appear big and compete with the big brands because of social media. If you can be personal, creative, interesting, and create awesome, helpful content, then you will pull attention from the big brands.
John's no dummy. He truly is a smart guy and his experiences pushing through adversity and blending expert advice with personal intuition make for great lessons. Despite his modesty, John is an inspiring social media pioneer and proven blogger, with a lot of great ideas that can help grow a modest social media presence into a sprawling empire. And his reminder of the importance of a strong, well-rounded entrepreneur is key. Working with experts and freelancers is important, but developing your skills and your brand voice is essential to success.
What social media do you think works best for your business? Do you have any theories or advice of your own about media a traffic that works for you? Share with us in the comments below!