Rob Cubbon: An interview on how to start a blog and make it successful

In this interview Rob Cubbon of shares a lot of great tips on how to build a successful blog. He shares tips you can use to choose a topic for your site, drive traffic to it, give your visitors something valuable every time they visit your site, make money from your site, network with others and more.

Ready? Rob, takes it from here.

1. Why did you get into blogging and decided to start your own blog?


Back in 2005 I had a static HTML site of only a few pages and a guy at work (a techie guy who’d actually helped me with domain registration and hosting advice) recommended I install this cool new blogging software called WordPress.Rob Cubbon: An interview on how to start a blog and make it successful

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I did it just to shut him up.

One year later when I was looking for ways to drive traffic to my simple site I read, not that blogging could help, but that creating more pages would help. I realised you could create new pages quickly and easily with WordPress.

Then, after writing a few really bad blog posts, I realised that the blog was getting more traffic than the static pages. I was hooked.

2. How long have you been blogging, on what topics – why? (share your story)

So that was in 2006. It’s 2013 now and I’ve been blogging consistently since then. It’s interesting to see how things have changed. When I started the blog it was called “Freelance creative artworker London” and has morphed through “Freelance graphic designer London” to now “Design and Marketing”.

So, from that, you can see how I started off very narrow and wrote about a wider range of topics. However, I wouldn’t advise other people do this as it’s better from Google’s perspective to pick a niche and stick to it. But that’s too boring for me and I want to blog about what I want to blog about.

3. How are things going so far? Have you been able to achieve the goals you set out when you first started?

The goal I had when I first started was to drive traffic to my site in order to pick up a bit of freelance work on the side. However, the blog meant I was able to stop working for anyone else completely and only work with clients I’d picked up through blogging. So I was able to grow a whole business because of the blog.

Now I’m looking to grow the passive side of my business with my own products.

The goals constantly change – along with everything else.

4. Here’s what most people ask themselves when their blogs still get little traffic: How do I get more? What do you tell such people? What can they learn from your story growing your site?

I always tell people to concentrate on two things – content and relationships.

Do something you enjoy. Enjoy writing the content and then hopefully people will enjoy reading it. Make it as great and as useful as it possibly can. And create as much of it as you can. Stop wasting your time on social media. “Real artists ship”.

And, at the same time, enjoy fostering relationships with people who are interested in the same things as you. It doesn’t matter whether they’re more successful or less successful than you. It’s the connection that’s important.

These two things – content and relationships – will bring you traffic. Forget about SEO (aside from the basic on-site stuff). Forget about social media (aside from the relationships). Forget about everything else.

Enjoy yourself.

5. How many hours do you spend blogging every week, today, a month ago, a year ago, and what are your reasons for spending that amount of time on your blog?

I probably only spend a few hours blogging every week. But I spend longer on creating products, etc.

6. What’s your definition of great content? How do you go about creating great content yourself?

I usually write about something that’s happened to me recently. A problem with a client and how I solved it. A problem with a website and what I did to correct it. Or if I’ve been thinking about a more general point, I’ll write about that. I write about my own experience.

7. Networking is said to be a good thing. What have you done, or do today, to connect with other bloggers, leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners in your niche and other niches?

As I said in the earlier answer, relationships are extremely important. The best way to foster relationships is through the blog. You’ll get to know someone either by them leaving comments on your blog or by leaving comments on theirs and then the dialogue will move over the email. That’s the most regular way I network but it can happen in other ways as well.

I also love because I’m lucky and live in London. You can’t beat the face-to-face thing but that’s not always possible.

8. What’s the one thing you’d spend most of your time doing if you started a new blog today? Where would your focus be? (do share your reasons please)

Again, my focus would be on content and relationships. However, as it’s harder to start a blog today than it was when I was starting out, I would try the “newer” platforms of podcasting and Kindle publishing.  In fact, I am starting a new blog and that’s exactly what I’m doing. 🙂

9. What can one do to create a blog that says what’s been said over a thousand times differently and still manage to attract readers and get their content shared?

Write about these things from your own perspective and it’ll be attractive to some people.

10. People are obsessed with getting more traffic, money, comments, followers…Tell me, what should they really focus on when they start worrying over the numbers – for example how they only have a few followers and people come to their site after working really hard on their site for months?

I would sympathise with them. However, maybe they’re writing content to get visitors rather than writing content they they personally really love. I think the fun, enjoyment and love has got to come into it.

11. What’s your advice for someone who starts a blog because they simply want to make money online – and they think that blogging is the best way to achieve this goal?

They’re probably right and good luck to them. I’ve met plenty of people who are making money in niches that they have no personal interest in. It’s not been my way of doing things but it’s not necessarily the wrong way.

12. How much effort did you put in your blog before you made your first USD 100 from it – and how did you make the one hundred dollars?

I never tried to make money from my blog initially as I’d first wanted to get freelance gigs through it (and I would recommend this to other people). So it was probably a few years before I made my first passive $100 (although I’d made my first active $1000 after a few months of blogging!)

The first $100 definitely came for affiliate links in an article I wrote about web hosting. I still make money from that today!

13. What steps did you take to go from someone that doesn’t make money blogging to someone who makes money blogging?

Add affiliate links and create products. But, of course, the content and engagement on the blog comes first.

14. What are some non-blogging things you had to deal with in your life in order to keep growing your blog into what it has become today?

I’ve already mentioned the Meetups here in London. I actually plan to start my own Meetup soon. I also recently was involved in a day-long mastermind session. You can’t beat getting out there and meeting other people on their blogging/entrepreneurial journey. And I love meeting members of the community.

15. What is the best advice you received that has helped you stay with your blog and continue improving it? (If you remember where the advice came from, mention names please)

Hard question to answer. My whole blogging journey has been as a result of advice. So, in no particular order (and I’ll have to leave people out). I’ve read great blogging advice from: Pat Flynn, Darren Rowse, Steve Scott, Ileane Smith, Ana Hoffman, Chris Brogan, Kimberly Castleberry, Brian Clark, Paul Jarvis, Dan Andrews, Leo Babauta, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, etc., too many to list here!

16. Any ebooks, courses, products or services that you highly recommend other blog owners to get now?

I’ve not been one to buy courses, usually. I’d just recommend people get a good host and email marketing company.

And that’s how Rob wraps it up in this interview. Thank you. Check him out on any time for more tips.

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