Hey Distinguished readers, I got yet another fantastic blogger here this week on Pro Motivator’s #1 “Extra-Ordinary Bloggers Interview” and trust me guys, you will love this one – I know you will cause implementing the techniques as shared by Donna will sure skyrocket and catapult you to the top.
Donna is a very insightful and loving personality. I remember I met her on one of the famous Facebook groups and a second on her domain – blog, feels like paradise and it makes me conclude that this sure is a blogger of means and one that must be interviewed here on PM. And now she’s here and she will be sharing with us on “How to Become a Pro Blogger”.
The last time I chat with Donna, I also found out that she’s not just a lover of David – her husband or perhaps her 3 lovely dogs but she’s also a lover of GOD! And who better it is to love if not God?
I should just get to the interview now and before I bring Donna Merrill in on the show as she shares with us her basic “how to become a pro blogger”. Guys you should read Donna’s About Page where you can learn more about this great Blogging Queen.
Sam: So Donna, welcome to Pro Motivator!
Donna: Hi Sam, It is such a pleasure to be here. I was so honored when you asked me to do an interview with you.
Sam: My audience would love to know more about you. Would you please introduce yourself to them?
Donna: I’m Donna Merrill, and I have been an entrepreneur most of my life.
When I came into the internet world I found so many possibilities not only to market, but to meet people all over the globe.
I’m married to my best friend and business partner. We are both bloggers and internet marketers.
I’m grateful that we can do business from our own home and be together with our dogs.
I find that through blogging and social media, I have met so many great people, it amazes me. I’m inspired every day to be part of this wonderful world/community.
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Sam: (Chuckles) Now I didn’t know this much bout you but now I know as do my distinguished readers. So I was wondering when did Donna start blogging and how has it been like so far? Do tell us everything.
Donna: I started blogging about 4 years ago. I’ve always worked with people, so I started writing about self development, which has always been a passion of mine.
In the process of blogging, I started working with other bloggers who wanted help with their own blogs. So, over time, I started developing as a mentor to bloggers.
I wrote in my own voice from the beginning. There was a term back then called “fake it until you make it” and I never followed that one. I had to write honestly, from my heart.
When I first started dabbling into turning my blog into a business, I had no idea how to sell or market it.
I thought marketing meant simply putting an opt-in box on my sidebar. WRONG!
I was always and still am a student, so I learned about branding. I made my own lead magnet offer. It was a free 7 part video series on how to stop procrastination. It went pretty well and I build a decent sized email list with it.
My problem back then was that I was selling affiliate products. My heart wasn’t in it, so my emails were weak and it was difficult to make sales.
Then, on my journey, I realized the only way I was ever going to market something was to produce my own product, which I did.
Now, I just create more and more products as I go along!
I’ve found my exact niche. Making products for people to help them be great online entrepreneurs, and more specifically, to succeed in blogging.
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Sam: Wow! That’s pretty wonderful ma’am. So what Motto do you live by?
Donna: My favorite motto is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Sam: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned so far?
Donna: Put your best foot forward all the time. If you want to get anywhere, you have to be the one to take the first step. Never fear.
When you find yourself in the fear space, face it head on and plow through to reach your goals.
I once feared videos, so I joined a 30 day video challenge. That was a sure cure!
Always be learning… every day! And never forget to give yourself a break.
We get so wrapped up in our online business. I know it requires time and dedication, but you need to take breaks to clear your mind. Even if it is an hour of meditation, prayer, or a walk in the park. You come back refreshed. So be kind to yourself.
[Tweet ” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you””]
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Sam: Everybody seems to be interested in blogging these days. What motivated you into writing and blogging?
Donna: I was motivated to write about blogging because when I started there wasn’t much support.
I see more and more people beginning to blog every day. The newbies! Many of them are misled about how to brand themselves on their blogs.
So they get frustrated and give up. It just hurts me to see people get all excited to blog, and then quit.
There are so many solutions for a blogger to be successful. I really want to see people become successful and financially free.
I’ve met many part time bloggers who just want to make some extra money to compensate their day jobs.
I have been an entrepreneur for years and I know how to get around that day job thing.
It may be hard work, but the independence and financial freedom is a great thing to have. I want to see others become successful.
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Sam: What is the easiest way to make money as a blogger?
Donna: Well, there’s no “easy” way to make money as a blogger. You have to study the latest marketing trends and methods.
On your blog, have an opt-in to build your email list. With a list, you can start selling.
But it isn’t quite so simple. You have to know how the process… things like building your opt-in, creating an offer to entice people to subscribe to your list, developing compelling sales letters or videos for the products and services you offer, and most importantly having a robust sales funnel in place so you can direct the path that your subscribers will follow.
Lots of bloggers forget this part. They think it’s just about putting a banner ad on their sidebar.
I would suggest brushing up on what a sales funnel is because once you capture an email from someone… there is a certain way to market to them.
You cannot just send them emails of your latest blog post and then tell them to buy something from you. It just won’t work. But when you learn the right way to do it, it does work.
[Tweet “There’s no “easy” way to make money as a blogger”]
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Sam: You have a wealth of knowledge in the area of writing. How do I write a quality post that will strike attention and will make people leave tons of comments on my blog?
Donna: I would have to say, I read a lot on the internet. It inspires me to write something I have learned and share it with my audience.
Writing for people is the key. Getting attention requires a fun title. I write about what I’m passionate about. If there is passion, it pours itself into genuinely enthusiastic articles.
People respond well to that. Also, sharing a story once in a while builds rapport with your readers… people just love reading stories. It has to be a mix of valuable information, socialization and a spot of inspiration to go with it.
Always keep in mind you are writing to someone… a real person, not a Google bot.
Sam: How do you usually find your ideas?
Donna: I guess I have too many ideas. When I read something or think about something, I write that idea in a document and leave it on my desktop.
Later I go back and build a post around it. If you immerse yourself in your niche, there’s an endless stream of ideas.
If you’re not really passionate about it, you’re not likely to get so emotionally and intellectually immersed, and so ideas are difficult to develop.
My advice: Always work from your passion center, and you’ll never come up short.
Sam: Who is the single person that has inspired you as far as blogging is concerned?
Donna: Seth Godin! When I read his book “Tribes” I got an AHA moment. I realized that it takes many people helping each other in order to achieve your dreams, and even to accomplish daily tasks, like getting comments and shares for your posts.
Seth inspired me to join a tribe when I started, and not try to go it alone.
That’s why I named my blog Donna Merrill Tribe. It has withstood the test of time.
I’ve taken my interest in this community aspect of blogging into my social media world, too. I’m in various blogging groups within Facebook, and a few blog syndication groups.
Sam: Okay, it seems Seth has inspired a lot of bloggers as I myself get inspiration from reading his works. Plus I also recently did a blog post around how to write like Seth Godin. So Donna, how has it been like being a female blogger? Is there a time you felt threatened?
Donna: Yeah I saw that. It was pretty lovely. Okay, I never thought of that one! I never feel threatened being a female.
Sam: Okay great! Tell me, what was the best moment of your life?
Donna: The best moment of my life was when I met my husband. It was love at first sight and we make a pretty good team. I never met a man as intelligent and altruistic as David.
Sam: Wow! I’m sure he’d be wowed himself if he gets to read this part of your interview. I hope someday I get to hear this kind of well put-up phrase bout me from my girlfriend. 🙂 Well Donna, which do you think produces better result, Guest posting or Blog commenting?
Donna: Hehe.. 😀 Okay. To your question; Blog commenting hands down!
I often say that comments are the essence of blogging. I get so, so many people that come to my blog from comments I have left on other blogs.
When you do this, though, you must always leave a good comment, never a one-liner.
Show that you read the article, and contribute to the subject matter contained in it.
Commenting carries a lot of clout. People actually read through the comment section of blog posts.
When you leave a great comment, you will get noticed. (Fact!)
Sam: That’s spot on ma’am. I got to learn the iotas of blog commenting from the trios; Adrienne Smith – The Engagement Superstar, Susan Neal and of course the comment superstar – Harleena Singh and it has sure been a wonderful experience for me. So Donna, in your own opinion, what do you think separates the greatest blogs and the poor ones?
Donna: Those three folks are indeed awesome bloggers and it’s no surprising to see them influencing people and getting huge success.
So, great blogs I believe are easy to navigate and they have good content that is helpful to it’s readers.
Comments are always replied to, thoughtfully and professionally.
Good blogs will follow the 90/10 rule: 90% of the content will give your readers what their look for, whether that is a solution to their problems, entertainment, inspiration… that depends on the mission and niche of your blog. 10% of the content will introduce readers to what you are selling.
Sidebars are another pet peeve of mine. When I go to a blog with a sidebar filled with banners, especially flouting offers that are not congruent to the niche, I shake my head and think this person is really desperate to make money. It is not a good thing to do.
It makes you look like you’re mostly interested in taking something from your visitors, not freely giving them great value because you really care about them.
Poor bloggers however are the ones that will always try to sell you something. The ones that have less than 500 words on a post. You can immediately tell that this person really doesn’t care.
Many don’t even reply to comments and that is another turn off. It shows you’re not there to engage your audience, but to sell them something.
Great blogs are developed consistently.
My advice for writing great blogs:
- You have to choose if you want to blog once a week, twice a week, whatever. Stick to it and never miss a beat.
- Consistency is your best friend when it comes to your blog. Blog at least once a week! Be consistent and patient!
Sam: Awesome! Okay, what drove you above and beyond, towards entrepreneurship?
Donna: As I mentioned before, I was always an entrepreneur. When I was just out of school, I had a job on Wall Street in New York City.
I was puzzled by the fact that I had to eat when they told me to eat. I could only have two days a week that were mine. And the big payoff… a two week vacation. Yes, I was making money there, but I just couldn’t fit in.
I started very young to start a little business on the weekends restoring antique furniture with a few friends of mine. I chose that road.
I had to give up a big apartment and go to a smaller one, but it was worth it to me.
I just wanted to run my own business and not be told what to do by “the boss” or “the company”. From then on, I had my hand in many businesses.
Yes, there are ebbs and tides when you’re an entrepreneur. Sometimes the money is great… sometimes you have to learn to go through a dry spell. But for me, it was always worth the freedom and independent lifestyle.
Sam: Another explosive insight right there! Donna, if you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
Donna: As a non technical person, I would have to hire someone to put it up for me.
I would probably go to Fiverr and check around to see how to hire someone to do it for less money.
Even if it wasn’t the greatest in the world, it would have to be a WordPress blog.
I could always make the money to change it later.
But make sure the blog has the plugins you need to make it effective without overloading it.
Sam: What sets Donna Merrill apart from other bloggers?
Donna: He He… we are all unique. I’m Donna, that’s all I know how to be. I do my best to give good content.
But I think what sets me apart is that I really do care about others, and they really do sense that about me.
Before I ever answer a comment on my blog, I first go to that person’s blog and read, comment and share it.
It gets down to this: it’s not about me at all, it’s about how I can serve others.
Sam: So I was wondering how much time does the Impeccable Donna spend on her blog weekly?
Donna: Just a few hours. After I write a post, the comments come in fast, so I do have to be there to answer them. Then along the week, the dribble in so it gets a bit easier.
Sam: Traffic is the life source of every blog – what do you do to drive quality and target traffic to your awesome blog?
Donna: I join blogging tribes and get involved. I do the same in Facebook groups and on Facebook pages.
I like to join small ones because I find that there is more reciprocity and engagement within the smaller groups.
Large groups tend to be filled with a bunch of people who just drop their links and run. There’s little sense of sincere engagement.
I post my blog on social media, and I get involved with people there. They come to me from many places. They may have seen me on Facebook or Twitter.
Lots of people find me on guest posts. Many others find me from comments I’ve left on blogs.
As I’ve been developing my own products, even more people come to my blog through those channels.
And, oh, yea… a lot of my posts get ranked pretty high in the search engines, although I never write for search engines… I write for people.
Sam: Okay, if a kid walked up to you to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Donna: “To thine own self be true.” Go chase your dreams kid! No matter what people tell you, if you follow your heart you will always win. Maybe things will fail, but keep on trying and never give up.
Sam: Think I’ve heard that quote before, probably a William Shakespeare’s quote or something. Well, what in your opinion should be the basic how to become a Pro Blogger?
Donna: Yeah it is. The basic steps or how to become a Pro blogger would be to be consistent, replying to every one of your comments, be grateful for each and every person that comes to your blog and treat them like royalty.
Never give up. When you get stuck or frustrated, walk away from your computer.
Do something kind for yourself. It could be something small like buying yourself a cup of coffee in a cafe and just staring out the window while you sip it.
Then come back with a positive mindset. Always remember you are a servant to your followers.
Be humble. Be yourself! That’s the core of it all.Go to other authority blogs.
Don’t be scared to leave a good comment. Go to at least 5 new bloggers a week that you don’t know. Add the good ones to your growing list of “blogs I follow”.
Also, be on social media because blogging goes hand in hand there. Make some friends there, too. Get things started by liking and commenting on what they have to say, when you find interesting status updates or tweets.
In the end, though, it’s not really about the blog sites you visit or social media platforms you surf.
It’s all about people. Engage with them and build sincere relationships. Never say anything negative. If you’re tempted to, just walk away.
Sam: That’s definitely awesome and I so resonated with every points. So Donna, I got thinking and wanted to know what are your top 5 blogging mistakes and how did you get them fixed?
Donna: When it comes to technology, I am just not good at it. I do hire people to fix my blog.
I learned that a theme can do some damage to my blog so I had to have it all re-done.
My “About Me” page… I have to up date it again! The more you grow, the more you need to change it. I’m working on that one.
I had a blog post that hit the first page of Google for a long time. It was “Why I left the Empower Network.” People came on in and started to argue. I guess they misunderstood that I had nothing against EN, it just wasn’t for me.
To help clarify things, I did an interview with Aki Wood (David Wood’s brother… David owns Empower).
I have respect for all marketers whether I like them or not. It wasn’t a fit for me, but it’s been great for others.
When I started blogging I was all over the place, I had a lot to say, but learned that I had to focus on one niche…. in time, that niche became “blogging.”
I didn’t realize that I had so many 404 errors on my blog until someone told me that. So I had to spend the entire weekend fixing all the broken links 🙁
Sam: Hmm…So can you kindly share with my readers, your content marketing strategies?
Donna: I develop content in many arenas. My blog posts, videos, Facebook page posts, and digital information products.
My strategy is to have all of these various contents point back at each other.
So, if someone reads my blog post, they may be prompted to visit my Facebook page.
When they’re on my Facebook page, they may read a post that directs them to an App on the page with a squeeze page to join my list.
When they subscribe to my list, they may get a 5 day email sequence that shows them how to get traffic to their blog.
An embedded link within that 5 day sequence may redirect to the sales page for my coaching club, Whirlwind Success “VIP Club”.
This is just a brief demonstration of how content marketing requires that many, many moving parts that we call “content”… work harmoniously to make the engine run.
The engine is “your online business,” the center of which is your blog.
Sam: You know I was wondering if you could please share the link to some of your most valuable post. Now, I know there’s a lot of them but do share at least 5, who knows it might be what some of my readers needs after all.
Donna: That’s right. Okay, here you go!
Quick Note: so guys these 5 post by Donna are just really on point and I think you should check’em out. Trust me I love all 5 but one that actually tickled my fancy was the number 2. (Just make sure you click through all five links!)
Sam: Anything else you would like to add?
Donna: I would like to say that the best way to be a pro blogger is to develop your own product.
People like to buy from the people who actually create content, much more than from those who re-sell it.
That’s because when you create a digital information product, “you” become the source of knowledge in your field.
You can start by developing free products, then advance to premium (paid) products in your niche.
Since I’ve started creating products, my blog has gained a huge boost in daily traffic, and become the hub of robust business.
Sam: In your honest opinion, what do you think we need to improve on here at Pro Motivator?
Donna: I think you are doing a fine job! I would say you might consider branding yourself more as a person, Sam! Pro Motivator is a good name, but I would like to see more about YOU!
Sam: Roger that Donna! And I’m pretty sure the next time we jam again, you ‘d be proud of me. 🙂 Thanks so much, Donna for accepting my request to be interviewed here. It’s much appreciated.
Donna: Hehe.. 😀 I appreciate you reaching out and asking me to do this. I am honored that you did and hope your readers enjoy it.
Back to you distinguished readers
You have heard from the Queen of Blogging – Donna Merrill of DMT. Do you have any questions on blogging, branding or perhaps Internet Marketing, make money online tips and guidance and you would love to get a genuine answer? Go ahead and drop your thoughtful questions in the comment box below; Donna would be more than happy to provide you honest answers to those thought provoking questions of yours.
If you like this interview, be sure to share it with your friends and visitors to your blogs. Make sure you Tweet it.