Matt Smith of An interview on how to start a blog, promote it and make it successful


Hello. Today, we have Matt Smith from He has a lot of great tips for businesses and individuals who want not only to start their own blogs but build successful blogs.Matt Smith of An interview on how to start a blog, promote it and make it successful

Different people measure a blog’s success differently. People focus on leads, unique visitors, pageviews, money, engagement, sales, feedback and many other things.

But here’s Matt answering a few questions, that’ll help you think deeply about what it is you already do, or want to do, with your blog. Ready? Enjoy the interview.

 Note that Niabusiness has linked to some of the resources on this page (some listed below) using affiliate links. When you click on something and purchase it, Niabusiness will receive a commission from every successful sale / referral, at no extra cost to you. 

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

I got into blogging after I finished University.  I graduated hoping to go into the film & TV industry, working behind the scenes  doing SFX (special effects), but due to the global financial melt-down there weren’t a lot of jobs in that sector.

Instead of getting a regular job, I wanted to at have a go at starting my own online business.

I’d done a bit of web design during University, so I ended up creating a few blogs for myself, family and friends.

Whilst this didn’t make me much money initially, I did really enjoy it and inspired me to set up my first proper (full-time) website and I haven’t looked back since.

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

I started building websites about 3 and a half years ago but didn’t really get into blogging until about a year after that.

Since then, I’ve blogged on a number of different subjects, from sport to politics, technology to movie reviews.

Think I have managed to try a little bit of everything, but now I mainly blog about social media, internet marketing, SEO, etc.

I wasn’t really sure what to blog about when I first started, which is why I tried a little bit of everything.

Some sites worked, some completely failed, but I learnt a lot from doing each.

One thing I have learnt is that you should pick a subject that you are passionate about.

You are going to be spending a LOT of time working on your blog, so it’s good to pick a subject that you love writing about.

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

Well I can’t say that I made much money when I first started out, as I was still learning a lot, but I’m doing pretty well at the moment.

You have to give yourself time to grow your site and get people visiting regularly.

I’ve got lots of plans to expand my existing site in the coming months and am working on creating my own products which should be released soon.

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?

Well I always tell people not to give up.

Blogging is pretty difficult, especially when you first start a site and have no traffic.

It’s all about being persistent.  You can’t expect to get thousands of hits everyday after a few weeks of blogging, as people won’t know who you are.

You have to get your name out there, create quality content and begin to grow your site.  It won’t happen overnight, but put in the hard work and you will begin to see results.

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’m a full-time blogger, so I work from 9 am til 6 pm (sometimes longer) every day, 5 days a week (and a few hours at the weekend).

Blogging is no different than a regular job, you just don’t need to commute anywhere.

Personally, I do it because I enjoy it, but I also do it because it’s my business.  If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be making any money.

There seems to be this myth that blogging is easy and can make you rich overnight.  Well that is complete rubbish and anyone that says that is lying to you.

Blogging is just like any other business, you need to put in the hard work, dedication and long hours in order for it to become successful.  If you don’t, you won’t get anything out of it.

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

That is a hard question to answer, as my view has probably changed since I started (and will continue to change).

Personally, I think great content has to be both helpful and engaging for readers – you can’t have one without the other.

You have to engage the reader with your writing, make it interesting and visually pleasing by including lots of images and videos (where appropriate).

You can have the best article in the world, but if you don’t sell it well by presenting it in an interesting way, then you won’t get any interest in it from readers.

I thought I was fairly good at creating content when I first started, but looking back on some of my earliest posts, they are pretty rubbish.

I have definitely got better as I have gained more experience, but I still think I can improve.  I suppose the key is to keep pushing yourself to make the best content that you can, not settle for second best.

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?

Networking is very important and shouldn’t be overlooked.  I have managed to build up a nice group of connections since starting my site.

I wouldn’t say that there was any trick to it, it’s just a case of getting out there and talking to other people in your niche.

The best thing people can do is to make sure that they are on ALL the major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) and link it back to your blog.  That way, when people find your site, they can follow you, or add you to their friends list.

It’s also good to get in touch with people yourself. I have made a few really good connection by asking people to do an interview or write for my site, where you can then talk about and get to know them.

Blogging is a community, you have to get out there and get involved if you want to be a part of it.

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)

That is a great question, though a bit of a difficult one to answer.

There is always SO much to do when starting a new site, it can be difficult to concentrate on one thing.  If you had to push me though, I’d say to concentrate on creating your initial content first.

There is no point trying to drive traffic to a site that has barely any content yet.  Work on writing posts and building up, say 5-10 really quality articles first before you look at promoting them.

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?

I used to think about that question quite a bit when I first started.  I mean, it’s pretty hard to come up with something new when everything has already be said, right?

Well no really!  Just because a topic has been covered countless times, it doesn’t mean that content is any good.

I have lost count of the times where I have been looking for a tutorial or information on a subject, only to find some rubbish someone has posted that doesn’t really help.

I’d probably estimate that 99% of the information online is not very helpful, so you need to just create something that is better than everything else.

Think about all the questions that people have when they visit one of your posts.  If you can’t answer everything (or at least point them in a helpful direction) then they will go elsewhere.

What twist can you bring to a subject?  What experiences, helpful tips, opinions, etc. can you give to help people out.  Do that in a good way and people will be more than willing to share your content.

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 used to obsess over my stats a lot when I first started.  I’d constantly be checking my Analytics numbers, follower count, comment numbers, etc. I found though that when I stopped worrying about them, they improved.

That may sound bizarre, but all that time that you spend worrying/checking those things is time lost actually working on your site.  The more time I spent into creating a really good post, the more popular it actually became.

That doesn’t mean that stats aren’t important, but simply that you shouldn’t put as much emphasis on them as you currently are.

Maybe you have only just started and haven’t quite built up a following yet, or maybe you need to look at concentrating on something else.  Focus on the actual work that you need to do and you should see a difference.

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?

I touched upon this briefly earlier, but anyone that thinks blogging is some sort of easy way to make money is in for a shock.  It’s not!  Blogging is hard, very hard.

You need to be self motivated to get on with what you need to do, as there isn’t going to be anyone standing behind you making sure your not slacking off.

You are the sole person responsible for making it a success or not, so if you fail, you only have yourself to blame.  Blogging is not for everyone and I know many people that have dropped out after only a few weeks.

That said, if you are the right type of person and enjoy it, it can be great!  Just remember that blogging is no different from a regular business.

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?

Lots!!!  It took me a lot of hard work to begin to make any money from my site.  I was a complete novice back then, so it was me not really knowing how to monetize my site that hindered me initially.

As I learnt more though and grew my site, money began to trickle in.  You begin to get the odd sale, more ad revenue, get enquiries about freelance work, etc.

I can’t remember how I exactly made my first $100, but it was probably from a combination of all of them.

Now, I make a nice regular income from a number of different methods. One of the things I love about running my own site is that you can add more income streams where you feel they will work.

They may not bring in loads individually, but add them together and you begin to see the true potential that sites can have when you work at growing them.

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

Like I say, you have to look at adding different revenue streams to your site.

There are many ways to monetize a blog, such as; PPC advertising, affiliate marketing, selling your own products, consultation services, sponsored posts/reviews, selling ad space, freelance work, etc.  It’s just a case of introducing one at a time.

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?

There was tons I didn’t know when I first started blogging, so it was just a case of learning about each aspect and implementing it for my site.

There is still loads that I need to learn, but I know that that will help me to grow my blog further in the future.

Things like; setting up a businesses account, tax returns, writing out business plans, budgeting, learning how to use different software programs, etc. There is so much to learn about running your online business that you probably haven’t even considered yet.

It’s just a case of taking it step-by-step and learning as you go along.

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)

The best advice I ever got was just to keep going.  Blogging is hard and there were times where I thought “Is this worth it?” but I carried on.

If you want something in life, you have to work at it to achieve it – nothing is easy.  It’s important that you don’t give in just because you haven’t seen instant results, it may just be a case of you not quite getting there yet.

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

Well, other than my own site ‘’ 🙂

I’d recommend people check out: Problogger – Secrets for Blogging Your Way To a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse, The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters and Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

Got something you’re going to use today? Please do share what you liked or learned – and what you are going to do with it in the comments below.

If you’d like to learn more about Matt Smith, visit his site here.

Niabusiness Recommendations – Tools, Resources

Book Recommendations – Buy & start reading these ebooks on your device now

  1. The Miracle Equation: You Are Only Two Decisions Away From Everything You Want by Hal Elrod
  2. The Art of War: Complete Texts and Commentaries by Sun Tzu, Thomas Cleary
  3. Secrets of Self-Mastery by Mitch Horowitz
  4. Master Your Emotions: A Practical Guide to Overcome Negativity and Better Manage Your Feelings (Mastery Series Book 1) by Thibaut Meurisse, Kerry J Donovan
  5. Coleman’s Laws: Twelve essential medical secrets which could save your life by Dr Vernon Coleman
  6. The Elements of Moral Philosophy by James Rachels
  7. Loving Your Spouse When You Feel Like Walking Away: Real Help for Desperate Hearts in Difficult Marriages by Gary Chapman
  8. Renovating Your Marriage Room by Room by Dr. Johnny C. Parker, Jr
  9. The Billionaire Who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune by Conor O’Clery
  10. Here’s The Deal: Everything You Wish a Lawyer Would Tell You About Buying a Small Business by Joel Ankney
  11. Buy Then Build: How Acquisition Entrepreneurs Outsmart the Startup Game by Walker Deibel
  12. The Art & Science of Respect: A Memoir by James Prince by James Prince, Jasmine Waters
  13. #BreakIntoVC: How to Break Into Venture Capital And Think Like an Investor Whether You’re a Student, Entrepreneur or Working Professional (Venture Capital Guidebook Book 1) by Bradley Miles, Carol Tietsworth
  14. Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success by David A. Livermore
  15. 101 So Bad, They’re Good Dad Jokes by Elias Hill, Katherine Hogan
  16. The Sleep Solution: why your sleep is broken and how to fix it by W. Chris Winter
  17. Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups—Timeless Advice from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000 by Jason Calacanis
  18. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Vashti Harrison
  19. Ruthless: A Memoir by Jerry Heller, Gil Reavill
  20. The Upside of Stress: Why stress is good for you (and how to get good at it) by Kelly McGonigal
  21. How to Be a Great Boss by Gino Wickman, René Boer
  22. Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson
  23. Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, 10th-Anniversary Edition by Bo Burlingham
  24. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Exposed and Explained by the World’s Two by Al Ries, Jack Trout
  25. My Favourite Dictators: The Strange Lives of Tyrants by Chris Mikul, Glenn Smith
  26. Influence – Science and Practice – The Comic by Robert B. Cialdini, Nathan Lueth
  27. What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro, Marvin Karlins
  28. The Dynamics of Conflict: A Guide to Engagement and Intervention by Bernard S. Mayer
  29. The Time Trap: The Classic Book on Time Management by Pat Nickerson, Alec Mackenzie
  30. Choose Yourself! by James Altucher, Dick Costolo
  31. Get a F*cking Grip: How to Get Your Life Back on Track by Matthew Kimberley
  32. You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar, 2nd Edition: Sandler Training’s 7-Step System for Successful Selling by David H. Sandler
  33. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  34. How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It by Mark Cuban
  35. The Greenhouse Approach: Cultivating Intrapreneurship in Companies and Organizations by Chitra Anand
  36. DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online by Russell Brunson, Dan Kennedy

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