Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com: An interview on content marketing and how to start a successful blog

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In this interview, Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion was kind enough to share answers to sixteen questions on blogging.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is this: from his answers, you can pick something that you can start implementing today to either start a new blog or grow the one you already have.

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To the first question and Marcus’s answer to it then…

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

I had no choice really.

My swimming pool company was on the brink of going out of business. I was going to lose my home. We were in trouble.

So we decided to do the only thing we could afford to do—become better teachers—online.

We figured if we became the best teachers in the world about what it is that we did (fiberglass pools in the case of my swimming pool company) the results would follow…and eventually they did.

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

I started blogging with my swimming pool company in March of 2009.

Within months of starting that practice, I noticed some pretty incredible results and kept pushing the envelope with the types of content we were producing.

Because of the outstanding impact it was having on my business, I decided to start another site–The Sales Lion– where I’d post my findings/results.

Little did I know The Sales Lion would become the blog/brand it is today.

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

With my pool company, the idea was to save the business, and we did. In fact, today River Pools has the most trafficked website in the world for swimming pools and we generate massive amounts of leads every day.

To put it simply, the business is on solid ground.

As for The Sales Lion, I’ve simply wanted to grow my brand and build a platform that would allow me to teach and speak and help others in a greater capacity. This is exactly what has happened.

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?

First of all, traffic doesn’t pay the bills.Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com: An interview on content marketing and how to start a successful blog

Customers pay the bills. Now granted, increased traffic on a site will often assist in increasing customers, but such is not always the case, as there are a number of other factors.

Truth be told, I wish everyone would stop saying the phrase “Get more traffic” and replace it with “Get more customers.”

But if you want more customers, here are 2 tips:

  • Address their problems and stop talking about yourself
  • Be bold and push the envelope. If you don’t have opinions, you likely won’t stand out from the noise

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 spend less time today blogging than I have ever over the past 4 years since starting. Why? Well, the simple answer is two-fold:

  • I spend much more time today with paying clients
  • I don’t need to produce as much content as I did before now that I’m established
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That being said, when I started with River Pools and The Sales Lion, I wrote 3-4 times a week on each to get the momentum going, and that is generally the amount I find most businesses need to really get traction, at least during the first year.

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

Great content is anything that is understood by another person and they’re able to say, “I get it. This makes sense to me.”

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 a big deal. And over these 4 years, I’ve commented on many blogs. Shared the content of others. Mentioned and supported dozens and dozens of folks I respect.

Networking is a constant commitment, and it never stops.

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)

I wouldn’t really change anything, other than maybe a bit more networking than I did at the beginning.

I say this because I think it’s important that we all learn, fail, and grow. I look back on those early days with a huge smile.

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 don’t really care how many times something has been said. After all, my opinion is mine, and I need to think/write it out for me, if not for my readers/customers.

I think it’s a tragedy that so many great blog articles never get written simply because they think someone else has said it before.

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?

This is why people must know their true goals and what’s important to them. But if it’s a business, it needs to be treated as such.

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?

Blogging is just a way of communicating a thought or idea.

If someone wants to make money online, they sure as heck better be passionate and interested in the subject, and they better be in it for the long haul.

The blogosphere chews up and spits out more bloggers than you can possibly imagine that simply wanted “to make money online.”

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 didn’t make any money on The Sales Lion for the first year if you can believe that. But I had another job and it was paying my bills.

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Eventually, I started consulting, which is how I made my first $100, then my first $1,000, and then my first $100,000….

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

I don’t look at it like “I make money blogging.” I make money because I teach and communicate really well.

Blogging happens to be one of the methods I’m able to teach people. And because I teach so well, businesses come to me and ask me to “show” them how to do what I’ve already “told” them how to do. 🙂

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?

Well, to answer this question, let me just say the current time as I write this is 1:03 am….Why am I up so late?

Well, once I embraced blogging and online marketing, I sacrificed sleep and other non-fruitful activities in order to make this dream a reality.

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)

Mitch Joel helped me understand my value as a teacher and speaker.

He once asked me what I was charging for my presentations and when he heard how low I was, he proceeded to reel into me for undercharging and not understanding my true value to clients. I’ve since fixed this problem. 😉

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

Of course, I’d recommend my free eBook, Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy found at The Sales Lion for starters. As for regular books, I think Jay Baer’s Youtility is simply an amazing read.

You can find more about Marcus Sheridan by clicking here. If you’d like to share your thoughts, experiences, and suggestions, the comments section is all yours.

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