Interview with ProBlogger Darren Rowse

Photo of Darren RowseFor today, I’ve got something special for you: an interview with blogger Darren Rowse, a blogger who is actually earning a living with blogs!

When did you begin blogging?
I first started blogging in November of 2002 on a personal blog (livingroom.org.au/blog) where I wrote (and still do) on themes of culture, spirituality, life in Australia and virtually anything and everything else that I had any interest in. That blog became quite popular within the segment of the blogosphere that I was interacting with and I began to build my domain’s page rank and traffic levels. I also realised that my bandwidth costs were getting a bit out of control so I added AdSense ads to this blog in the hope of covering my costs.

I blogged there for almost a year before starting a second blog which today is called Digital Photography Blog (www.livingroom.org.au/photolog). This blog originally started as a simple photoblog to record an overseas trip. However on a whim one day I added a short review of the digital camera that I use. After a few weeks I checked my stats and realised that not a single person had viewed my photos but that I was getting a few hits on the camera review.

I added a second review and a few news stories about digital cameras and saw traffic continue to rise. I added AdSense ads to this site also and realised quite quickly that I was going to cover my hosting costs for the year in a month or two and have a little extra money left over to put towards other ventures. So began a journey of ProBlogging.

How many blogs do you have, and why did you start them?
I now own and write on 17 blogs on a variety of topics ranging from Digital Photography Blog (my biggest one now) through to other technology blogs like Camera Phone Zone (www.livingroom.org.au/cameraphone - in desperate need of a redesign), to ProBlogger (www.problogger.net - my latest blog) through to Depression News (www.breakingnewsblog.com/depression/ - a blog on depression and mental illness).

I started each blog for different reasons. I have some sort of interest in all of the topics I cover, although I admit I’m more passionate about some than others. Some have a more commercial nature than others whilst others are more about offering a genuine service to others (like Depression Blog). ProBlogger.net is less about actually making money and more a profile raiser – its actually starting to help me build a clientele in blog consulting.

I also am a co-founder and partner in the Breaking News Blog collective of blogs (www.breakingnewsblog.com) - I don’t own or have an active part of all of them, but have an interest in them all and write on around half of them.

Why did you start blogging? How did you set about measuring success?
As you’ll see from the story of my first blogs above – my blogging has been an evolution rather than a strategic move. I wish I’d known what I know now and done a little more planning on some of my early blogs – but I won’t complain because I’m doing pretty well out of it all. When I first started “success” was more about traffic levels than anything else. Now I’m not so concerned about traffic levels (although I track them and see a relationship between them and final earnings). Now I also track a number of other factors including earnings of each blog (obviously), inbound links, page ranking, numbers of comments, SERPs and even feedback emails that I get. Somewhere in the midst of all these things lies success for me.

How frequently do you post?
I currently have a goal of posting 25 posts per day 7 days per week. Of course this is across 17 blogs, some of which I post multiple posts per day, others I would only post on a couple of times per week. I don’t always meet this goal (although some days when I’m on a roll I can do much more than that) but its what I aim for. I figure if I want to make a full time living from blogging then I need to put significant levels of effort into it. If I post for a full year at this rate I’ll have added 9125 pages which gives every opportunity for someone to find it using search engines.

Biggest blog mistake? Biggest blog success?
Mistake: One of the things I regret is not setting up some of the blogs that I’ve started on their own domains. Digital Photography Blog’s URL has always sat uncomfortably with me. I actually own the digitalphotographyblog.com domain name, but am hesitant to move now that I’ve built it to such a good level on the livingroom domain. Of course if I’d have started this blog 18 months ago on its own domain it would not have enjoyed the success that it now has because it became successful very quickly on the back of my previous blog on the same domain name.

Success: Apart from the overall success of being able to earn a full time income from my blogging I think the highlight so far was our Olympics blog last year. A friend of mine and I started a blog about the Athens Olympics a couple of months before they began in the hope of attracting a bit of traffic. Again it was on the livingroom domain (www.livingroom.org.au/olympics) so climbed the rankings in Google very quickly. We were in the top 10 results on most olympic games search terms on Google (number 1 or 2 for many) and over the month of August had close to 2 million visitors to the blog. It was a crazy ride – we both lived on Athens time during the games (slept all day and were awake all night) and made some pretty good money over the time that made the hard work worth it.

What tools do you use on your blog?
A number of tools come to mind.

Movable Type and WordPress – these are the backbones of my blogs. My more recent blogs are WP based and I’m considering moving my older ones over to it too when I see how 1.5 goes.

Ecto – this little tool has revolutionised my blogging. It allows me to blog when offline, drag and drop in images and other files, import quotes from other sources with one click, insert Amazon affiliateship products with a couple of clicks and write it all in WYSIWYG.

Bloglines – RSS is a major development that cuts down the time that it takes me to find content for many of my blogs. I track 300 or so sources daily and find the simplicity and availability (being web based) of it is great.

Powerbook – ok its not really a blogging tool – but I love my Mac grin

How do you find find readers and drive traffic?
Good question. Really these days most of the traffic I get comes courtesy of my “friends” at Google. This makes me a little uncomfortable as all it takes is a tweak to their algorithm and my traffic can be whisked away (something I experienced for 6 weeks in December and January). I’ve been working harder more recently to diversify the flow/s of traffic that I have.

I’ve been experimenting with an opt in email newsletter on my Digital Photography Blog over the past few months in an attempt to build up loyalty of readers. I’‘ve got this list up to 3500 subscribers which has definitely helped things – although Google continues to serve 90% of traffic to that blog.

RSS – this is an area that continues to grow. It’s nowhere near as big as Google but an increasing number of my readers at ProBlogger come over via my RSS feeds. I guess this is because I don’t publish full posts in RSS which forces people to actually come to the site. I know this annoys some readers but for a number of reasons will only continue to publish excerpts.

I also work hard on relationships with other bloggers in the fields of my blogs. My motivations for this a numerous – it’s partly about fostering working partnerships with them (I believe that even fierce competitors in a niche can work together to better the position of both blogs) - its also partly in the hope of some incoming links (Google juice) which are so important in building search engine rankings – but it’s also out of genuine interest in other bloggers and how they operate and how we can support each other. All of this builds readership.

What kind of traffic does your blog get?
This goes up and down depending upon who has linked to me on any given day or what scoops I might have published on. As of today I’m averaging just under 20,000 readers across my blogs each day viewing around 32,000 pages.

What’s the most surprising aspect of blogging for you?
I am constantly surprised that people read what I have to say. I’m surprised by the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to meet through it. I’m surprised that I can make a living from something that started as a hobby. I’m surprised that my wife let me follow my dream of doing this instead of a “real job” (she was very gracious in the early days when I only earned a few dollars a day). I’m constantly surprised by how the technology is improving to make what I do easier and easier. I’m surprised that I’ve stuck at it for two and a half years (I have a short attention span)!

Do your blogs earn income for you? How?
Yes they do earn income for me. I have a number of income streams across my little blogging network which include Google AdSense, Amazon affiliate program, other affiliate programs, private sponsorship (banner ads, text ads, button ads), impression based advertising, systems like BlogAds, Adbrite and hopefully BlogKits (if it takes off).

I’ll give almost any income generating program a go for a period to see how it works. I find that some blogs are better suited to some systems than others.

How much do I earn? This is the big question, isn’t it? Some of the systems I use don’t allow disclosure of actual figures so I won’t break it down or give specifics. It is actually difficult to put a figure on it because each month is different and overall my earnings are still on the rise from month to month. However based on how things are currently going I expect that this year my blogging (across all blogs and income streams) will generate a six figure income ($US).

I have some new projects, deals and ideas that I hope will become a reality in 2005/6 which I’m hoping will enable me to diversify my interests a little more.

What are your favorite blogs?
I don’t have time to read other blogs!

Ok – this isn’t completely true – I do read 300 or so of them, but mainly through their RSS feeds. Its hard to pick out just a few as more special than others so I’ll limit it to three of my daily reads (if they post daily…two of them need to do a bit more work – get the hint boys?).

  • WorkBoxers - Paul writes a lot better than me on Pro Blogging
  • Figby - Michael has been making money online for years and is a wealth of knowledge – watch my site for an interview with him shortly.
  • Blog Herald - for a good sum up of blogging news each day.

Tomorrow: Darren gives us his thoughts on the future of blogging and tips for new business bloggers!

Posted by Susannah Gardner on 02/22 at 10:51 PM • Blogs and Business
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Comments

  1. Great interview!

    Posted by Tris Hussey on 02/23/05 at 08:16 AM
  2. Great interview. Darren’s a great guy whose writing on his ProBlogger blog and personal tips have helped me quite a bit.

    Posted by Tom Hanna on 02/23/05 at 09:36 PM
  3. This was a great interview with Darren Rowse, who is one of the most informative and innovative business bloggers on the internet. I consider Darren’s Pro Blogger blog to be in that rarified “must read daily” group of blogs.

    Posted by Wayne Hurlbert on 02/24/05 at 01:29 AM
  4. For today, I’ve got something special for you: an interview with blogger Darren Rowse, a blogger who is actually earning a living with blogs!

    When did you begin blogging?
    I first started blogging in November of 2002 on a personal blog (livingroom…

    Posted by http://www.oloop.org/2005/02/24/interview-with on 02/24/05 at 01:46 AM
  5. Susannah Gardner interviews six-figure blogger Darren Rowse.

    Posted by http://www.micropersuasion.com/2005/02/six_figure_ on 02/24/05 at 05:51 AM
  6. Great interview! Serious blogging is a lot of hard work, and if it becomes a full time job is a lot of entrepreneurial risk. Kudos to Darren!

    Posted by Luca on 02/24/05 at 08:10 AM
  7. Great interview with a great and gracious blogger!  Thanks to both of you for doing it…

    Posted by Bren on 02/24/05 at 08:13 AM
  8. Awww - thanks for all the kind words friends grin

    Posted by Darren Rowse on 02/24/05 at 07:01 PM
  9. Guardian Unlimited posted an article yesterday titled "Posting for Profit".  As you may imagine, the subject matter of this article is making a living (or at least some money) from blogging.  The article covers events such as Eason Jordan's recent resignation as CNN's News Chief to the players in the blogosphere.  It makes for very interesting reading.

    Posted by http://wiredgecko.typepad.com/neuvo/2005/02/more_o on 02/25/05 at 06:23 AM
  10. Thank you for revealing the secret to successful online publishing. It turns out that a combination time, hard work and common sense lead to problogging.

    Posted by Ron on 02/26/05 at 04:17 PM
  11. Buzz Marketing With Blogs did an interview with pro-blogger Darren Rowse, less than two weeks ago. Darren is on track to make a six figure income, this year. His goal is to make 25 posts per day, 7 days a week, across 17 different blogs. This is a grea…

    Posted by http://feedmoney.com/archives/2005/03/31/an-in on 03/31/05 at 03:43 PM
  12. Pro-blogger Darren Rowse expects to earn a six-figure income this year from blogging. Yikes. He writes for 17 different blogs (and you thought I was an addict) on a variety of different topics. (link via Jordon Cooper)...

    Posted by http://www.monkeyouttanowhere.com/thoughts/archive on 04/11/05 at 08:24 PM
  13. Darren wrote: “I currently have a goal of posting 25 posts per day 7 days per week. Of course this is across 17 blogs…..

    If I post for a full year at this rate I’ll have added 9125 pages which gives every opportunity for someone to find it using search engines”

    I think this is the key for Darrem to obtain 6 figure income per year from his blogs. Massive ammount of quality content that search engines love!

    Marketing is my passion

    Posted by Francisco Moriones on 08/06/05 at 02:36 AM
  14. The information that u provided is nice.
    can u help me to incerase trafic to my site with blogs. can i expect some guidance from u regarding to this.

    Thanks
    Uday Kiran. grin

    Posted by Uday Kiran on 03/14/06 at 06:42 PM
  15. Very good interview. Nice read.

    Posted by Ed on 10/18/06 at 02:33 PM
  16. Well it looks he done that, as of oct 2006. Problogger is really a good source

    Posted by RDoc on 10/19/06 at 08:50 AM
  17. I find Darren’s drive to be very inspiration. He clearly has a focused approach to his methods, and is now reaping the rewards for all his hardwork. It is often said that there is at least 3 years worth of work, in most overnight success stories.

    Posted by ~rick on 10/22/06 at 03:43 PM
  18. Good interview.Blogging is hard work but it pays off.

    Posted by Adrian on 05/04/07 at 01:43 AM
  19. Gosh, this is a good interview. I didn’t know that problogger has over 17 blogs! 5 for me is a huge problem already it’s really hard to keep track and update each and every blog…

    Posted by Michael Woo on 11/15/07 at 06:22 AM
  20. ProBlogger is one of my favorite blogs, and of many others too. It’s not that Darren is THE best blogger on the planet, but what I like about him is that he doesn’t fake things and his writing style is unique. He knows what he is writing, and is good at what he’s best.

    Posted by Apoorv Khatreja on 11/16/07 at 08:50 PM
  21. Great interview.  By any chance, would you have interviewed in the past (or are you planning to interview in the near future) Jack Lan of Singapore and James Brausch of the U.S.?  I’m thinking of getting them (Jack Lan because he’s Asian like me), and James Brausch because he has “physical” products and not just amorphous promises).

    Posted by David Michael G. Llera on 01/07/08 at 03:28 AM
  22. There is nothing to compare to a real life success story and this one above is a very precious one because it comes from pro. With talent and fleer he new how to get Internet by his side.

    Posted by Google magic formula review on 06/28/08 at 05:36 AM
  23. Great interview. I really enjoy Problogger and buzzmarketing, so this is a good post for me. I love a real life story. When someone like Darren succeeds it makes me feel like I can do it too. He has put in a lot of hard work to get where he is which proves there is no such thing as get rich quick.

    Posted by Catherine on 08/15/08 at 12:11 AM
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