One of the most exciting things about the world of blogging is that anyone can start a brand or business of their own — no matter where they might live in the world.
Having been in the industry for 20 years now and starting my first blog back in 2007, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a lot of people and watch their personal brands grow over the years.
Harsh Agrawal is one such blogger, who I actually had the opportunity to meet last year at Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas. Today he has one of the most successful and popular blogs in India.
Be sure to check out this story and actionable advice below, in the latest edition of the Meet the Bloggers series.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
Hey Zac, Firstly, let me say it’s a pleasure to be invited on your blog.
Well, I’m one of those guys who loves to do the right thing. I’m a blogger from New Delhi, India & I happen to be running an award-winning blog called ShoutMeLoud.
I started ShoutMeLoud in 2008 as a hobby that I would work on after college classes and work. Within a few months, I realized that blogging could give me the life that I always dreamed of & this was when I decided to become a professional blogger.
I quit my existing job at Convergys & also rejected joining an MNC called Accenture. It was a tough call back in 2009, as blogging was not seen as an ideal career choice in India around that time.
Today, I can safely say that it was one of the smartest choices I have ever made. It’s been about 8 years since I have been blogging & sharing all of my learnings, successes, and failures.
I’m basically “learning for a lifetime” and so far, it’s been great. I love to live in the moment & enjoy whatever I have “in the Now”.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
ShoutMeLoud was started as a technology blog, but later I started sharing my learnings about WordPress, AdSense, and SEO in order to document my journey for my readers.
When I started making money, I realized that this could be life-changing stuff & everyone should know about the power of blogging. This is when ShoutMeLoud took a new direction; we moved from the hard-core technology niche to the “be your own boss” niche.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
I’m a strong believer of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. This is why ShoutMeLoud has multiple sources of income.
Here are all of the ways I monetize (and have monetized) ShoutMeLoud:
I used to offer blog-related services, as a blog is a great way to generate service leads. When I first started out, I made my first few bucks by offering services on my blog and via forums like Digital Forum.
I still remember the day when I got my first ever online payment of $10 via PayPal. I fixed an issue related to the Google Webmaster Tool for a blogger.
This is my primary source of income. Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize a blog by making money promoting other people’s products.
I made my first few affiliate sales by promoting Dreamhost (the web-hosting service that I was using at the time).
Related: The highest-paying affiliate programs for bloggers
I also monetized ShoutMeLoud with AdSense for the first 3-4 years. I liked using AdSense because it gave a consistent recurring income (which is crucial for financial stability).
While I’ve since shifted from this model I operated at first, getting started with Google Adsense is super easy and very quick once you get approved. For bloggers looking for quick income from their traffic, I suggest checking it out.
After I started building a name for ShoutMeLoud, direct ad sales started coming in. Even today, direct ad sales add a good chunk of income to my overall revenue.
If you own a blog and are looking to run direct ads but not spend a ton of time finding people to run them, I’d suggest checking out Buysellads. Their platform makes it easy to match with businesses looking to run ads, which helps save you time and increase your income at the same time.
Companies also pay money for product reviews.
The very first product that I launched at ShoutMeLoud was our ShoutMeLoud WordPress theme. It was getting good sales, but later I had to shut it down due to lack of support. But, theme businesses require a lot of support & resources.
Later on, I added a few eBooks, WordPress plugins & some other things. I sell everything from ShoutMeLoud store which I created using the Easy Digital Downloads plugin.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
Growing up is a trap! 🙂 I miss the time when I could blog mindlessly without worrying much about others.
Now, since ShoutMeLoud has become a much bigger brand than me, following a system is the key to sustaining this growth & move us in the right direction. Moreover, there is little space for making mistakes.
So for those who are starting out, experiment & make as many mistakes as you can in the initial days! Nobody will mind your initial mistakes. Be brave and follow your heart.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
I mostly rely on my feeds (Feedly) & content discovery app (Flipboard) to discover awesome content written by all of the many amazing bloggers out there. Specifically, here are some of the blogs I enjoy reading for their quality & well-researched content:
There are many others, but these 3 are always on the top of my list.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
That’s one of my favorite questions! I love discovering new tools & testing them out to see how they can help me to save time or grow my blog. Here are a few:
- SEMrush: My favorite tool for keyword research, checking backlinks, and also for performing SEO audits.
- Bufferapp: I use it for scheduling all of my social media updates. I have been paying for this tool for 3 years & never had a single issue.
- Camtasia: I use this for making screencasts for my YouTube channel. I would also recommend checking out TubeBuddy which is another great tool for YouTubers.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Do your research well & start as soon as possible. Don’t waste too much time planning. Once you are on the path, you will figure out how to balance & speed up your blogging career. And make reading a habit. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
Do things from your heart, but look at the data from your mind. A perfect combination of both is the right way to move ahead in a world that is much more head than heart.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
- Setting up & installing WordPress is free.
- I would use a free theme & all of the essential free plugins.
- I would spend about $60/year on hosting + a domain name.
- And I would spend the rest of the money on a logo & proper branding.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Here are a few places where you can find me:
- Email: Harsh@shoutmeloud.com
- Personal blog: denharsh.com
Thanks again Harsh for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.