Ramsay is basically the overlord of online writing. He’s one of the most successful bloggers in the business, with credits and mentions on sites like Moz.com, Copyblogger, Viperchill, and Problogger. Making a full-time living from a blog is no easy feat, but Ramsay had the ambition and the grit to stick it out and make it happen. I tracked him down on his favorite couch and asked him to share some of his blogging success tips with the creative minds of Fiverr.
Nico: For those who don’t know you, can you tell us more about yourself?
Ramsay: I should start by saying that I’ve been extraordinarily lucky when it comes to blogging. My career started with the fortunate sale of a fitness blog for five figures while I was still in college. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was then that I realized how popular and powerful blogging was becoming and I wanted to give it a go in a more professional sense.
So I dropped out of university (much to the devastation of my parents) and started focusing on building a blogging company from my couch. At first it was a little difficult finding a consistent income, so I got a job as a cleaner at a gym. I’d work from 6:00–10:00 am every morning and then come home and work on different internet ideas until late at night. After a year or so I was making a full-time income and haven’t had a real job since. While I wouldn’t recommend this course of action for everyone, it has been a challenging and very rewarding process for me personally.
Blog Tyrant is my main project now and it’s where I try to share all the blogging, content marketing, and SEO tactics that we’ve been experimenting with over the years in the hope that we can help others fast-track their careers online. I’m really noticing how many millions of people are turning to the internet for an income source now as automation and AI take over a lot of traditional jobs, and I hope that Blog Tyrant can in some way help people figure that process out.
For me, blogging is a wonderful activity that has so many financial and social benefits. But it is also just a means to an end. I’d really like to build my blogging company up over the next few years so I can start to support some climate change and environmental organizations in a larger way. Ultimately, I’d love to put the laptop away and spend more time outside frolicking in a forest.
Nico: Let’s jump straight into what you love the most – blogging. What’s the best advice you can give to someone who wants to start a blog, and above all, what’s the number-one mistake you should definitely avoid?
Ramsay: One of the biggest things that I notice with new bloggers is that they have a somewhat unrealistic time frame about how long it takes to build a successful blog, especially if you want that blog to be your main source of income. A blog is just like any small business: You need to make a plan that is based around a strategy that you have researched carefully. You need to know what you want to sell, how you might promote it, and you need to get good at things like networking, Google SEO, and tracking results.
From a financial point of view, most small businesses make a loss in their first year, and it’s some time before you turn a profit that allows you to draw a salary for yourself. A blog is no different. This means that you need to have some sort of savings or a part-time job that you can work while you build up the blog to a level where the revenue is enough that you can focus on it full-time without huge amounts of stress.
All of this seems kind of dull, but it is so important to think about because there will be times when you want to give up. And that leads me to my last point: You really need to love it. If you don’t love what you do then you will probably not have the energy to weather those difficult times when results are hard to come by and you are tired and stressed. These points are not very “technical” but I really think they are overlooked often by new bloggers.
Nico: You have sold several blogs and you actually make a living by relying solely on the internet. Do you have a proven way to monetize your website? Do you have a kind of “evergreen” strategy?
Ramsay: These days it’s both easier and harder to make money online, depending on how you look at it.
It’s easier in the sense that tracking tools and analytics are now so advanced that you have incredible insights available to you, often for free. And you can build incredible campaigns around an offer or a landing page that integrates perfectly with Facebook ads and your mailing list provider, and then test whether it works better with a green button or a red one. The opportunities in this sense are endless. And if you can find a good mentor who has done it themselves and writes honestly about the process then you’ve got a lot of what you need to make it work. Glen Allsopp, Chris Ducker, Pat Flynn, Melyssa Griffin, Darren Rowse, and Amy Porterfield are some such mentors.
But it’s also harder to make money because there is now so much noise and so much competition. People don’t really know where to put their attention, and this often leads to a really fragmented approach to blogging or online business in general. It can be hard when you put a whole year into a project and don’t see any results.
The best method that I really try to emphasize is the fact that almost all of the successful people that I know are tinkerers. All of their best ideas have come after years of failed attempts at building websites, blogs, apps, services, and so on. Each of those failures leads to new experiences and perspectives and, over time, you end up figuring out something that helps people and is also a little bit different.
If you’re struggling to make money from your website, I would just encourage you to keep researching and playing around with different ways of solving problems. Look at what your competitors are doing and then find a better, simpler way to improve on those ideas. It can take a little bit of time, but eventually you seem to stumble upon something that makes sense.
Nico: Neil Patel shared your blogging strategy as an inspiration for success, placing guest posting on top of your inbound strategy funnel. How exactly do you proceed? I mean, how do you find the blogs you want to guest post for? How do you choose your topic (knowing it will be accepted)? Do you use a specific email template?
Ramsay: For me, this strategy is all about building genuine friendships with people. One of the big advantages of a blog is that it is a very social platform and you can spend all day interacting with both readers and other bloggers to the point that you spend more time with them than some people in the real world.
So when I look to do a guest post on another blogger’s website, it’s only after I’ve built a relationship with them and know that we could work together in a mutually beneficial way. There are so many marketers out there who send generic, impersonal emails asking for guest posts that offer nothing of value to the site owner. But what people really like is when you have something incredible and unique that is going to truly benefit their blog and help their readers.
If you want to get a guest post on a site that you love, then spend a few weeks or months sharing their stuff, linking to it in wonderfully useful articles, and interacting with them in a genuine way. And then slowly come up with a post that fits with their brand and achieves something concrete for them before you pitch. This is important because you then find that those guest posts start to rank on Google themselves, and you end up with a long-term supply of organic traffic back to your blog through theirs. Everyone wins.
Nico: Reading your blog articles, I see you have definitely developed a very efficient way of writing. Do you personally write the articles or do you outsource this part of your content marketing process? How do you proceed when it comes to content creation?
Ramsay: I’ve written every article myself. Generally, I try to cover specific strategies or ideas that I’ve been working on myself so that I can share actual stats or data as opposed to just things that I’ve heard about. But sometimes visitors will also email me questions that they are stuck on and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.
When it comes to content creation, I always try to hit at least 2,000 to 3,000 words and include different graphics and resources in the posts so that they form a nice basis for people to research the topic further. I also try to stick around the comments section for a few days afterwards and a lot of happy blogging friendships have been formed that way. The comments on Blog Tyrant are often far more informative than the posts.
But the main thing is that I try to keep the content focused, narrow, and aimed at beginners. The majority of people who search for answers on Google are inherently beginners (hence, why they’re searching) and I’ve found that by focusing on the really simple things, you can attract a consistent audience as new people become interested in blogging and need solutions. If you can help people in their early stages, they are also more likely to reference and promote you later on when they’ve found that your material has been somewhat useful.
While I don’t think Blog Tyrant is particularly unique, I do try as hard as I can to make sure that the information will help the person on the other end of the screen. And I genuinely hope it has made a difference to someone out there over the years.
Ramsay understands that the best thing about success is sharing it with others. Everybody wins. When people learn from him, they credit him with their own success, spreading his reputation as a knowledgeable overlord. He shared a lot of great advice with us, proving he’s not really the unfeeling tyrant his blog’s name suggests. If you’re feeling stuck or stalled in your entrepreneurial career, take a look at Ramsay’s blog and ebook for more detailed ideas.
Have you considered using your blog as a money-making enterprise? What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Share your tips in the comments below.