Podcast 172: How to Get 1 Million PageViews a Month to Your Blog and Still Have a Life with Harsh Argawal
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I'm excited to bring Harsh Argawal to the Niche Pursuits podcast!
Harsh is a well-known blogger in the WordPress and digital marketing space. It wasn't until recently that we really connected and started chatting business.
I've been reading his blog since probably at least 2010, so he definitely has been around, and certainly knows his stuff.
Shout Me Loud gets over a million pageviews a month, which is really high for a blog in just about any space, but especially the WordPress and Blogging niche. Not only has Harsh built a significant business, but he's also found a way to a have a proper work life balance.
Travel, meditation, and exercise are all very important to Harsh and he manages to find time to do all of those things even while running a successful business.
Listen in to hear how Harsh has grown his blog, how he finds content ideas, how he runs his business, and how he makes time to travel, meditate, and more.
Mentioned on the Podcast:
- Google Adsense
- Optin Monster
- Easy Digital Downloads
- Yoast SEO
- The Power of Now
- The Surrender Experiment
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- Rescue Time
Hey, everyone. . Welcome back to the Niche Pursuits podcast. Today, I've got a great guest interview. I have Harsh Agrawal from shoutmeloud.com and if you've been in the blogging and online marketing space for a while, you've probably come across ShoutMeLoud. It gets over a million page views a month and it makes pretty good money.
Harsh is somebody that I've known about for a long time, but honestly, we've never connected and chatted until just a couple of months ago. We started chatting about Link Whisper, which is how we started the conversation and that led to “Why don't you come to the podcast?”
Harsh has done a lot of really amazing things with his blog. He's been awarded a lot of awards in India for his blog, he spoke at a lot of conferences, and ShoutMeLoud has allowed him to enjoy a lot of freedom. To be able to travel, to be able to pursue a lot of other ventures that we talk about a little bit here in the interview.
I wanted to get him on to discuss his journey, how he built ShoutMeLoud, why he started it (and we’ll hear why he did that), how he had his first article go viral on digg.com (if you remember the days of Digg), and how he's making money and how's he growing the site. We dive into a lot of strategies, SEO strategies and other things, including once you get a site that's so big, how do you ensure that you are not cannibalizing your content? How do you come up with new content ideas when you already have a thousand blog posts on there? We are going to jump into all of that.
A topic that Harsh really enjoys a lot a bit more is work-life balance, how he manages that, some productivity hacks that he has to share, and even meditation. We jump into that as well. Of course, all throughout he has a lot of great advice for bloggers, how they can grow their businesses and start to achieve some success. I'm super excited to have finally connected with Harsh and have him on the podcast, so I truly hope that you do enjoy the interview.
Spencer: Hey, Harsh. Welcome to the Niche Pursuits podcast.
Harsh: Thank you, Spencer. It's such an honor to be interviewed by you, for someone who admires what you do, and I'm glad to be here.
Spencer: Thank you so much. It is great to have you on the podcast. You are somebody that I've been following along and aware off for many years. We've both been blogging for basically over ten years at this point and we never really connected until recently. We were able to jump on a call and talk about a few other things.
For one, I'm just really excited to be able to connect with you, but to also have you in the podcast that you can share your story, your experience, and hopefully provide listeners with some tactics they can apply in their own business, maybe some inspirations as well along the way.
Harsh: Sure, sounds like fun.
Spencer: Awesome. Everyone knows you already, most likely, for your blog shoutmeloud.com, which is widely popular (and we are going to dive into that in a little bit), but first, what were you doing before you even started ShoutMeLoud?
Harsh: I was 22 years old and I just completed an engineering degree. I was placed in this company, you might have heard of this company called Accenture. When we graduate from engineering, usually we have about 6–12 months before the company actually gives us the […]. I joined a call center, another popular call center called Convergys.
Spencer: Yeah, I remember them.
Harsh: Yeah, and then I had a lot of time on my hands so I started blogging just out of hobby, that's practically what I'm doing before starting ShoutMeLoud.
Spencer: Okay, so you just recently graduated with an engineering degree, had a year-and-a-half of doing some things and that's when the blogging began. Was ShoutMeLoud your very first online business?
Harsh: Yup, that's true.
Spencer: Wow. Maybe you tell me if you agree, I would say that it is very rare that the first online business that somebody starts is actually successful and makes money.
Harsh: Yeah, that's true. The thing is I never start ShoutMeLoud with that intention of making money. It was more of a hobby, like this is the kind of thing that somebody would do along with their work-study kind of stuff. It started off as a tech blog. I was quite a techie and I still am quite a techie. I was […] a lot of things and I was blogging about them, and people were very happy.
I'm actually getting into the story of how ShoutMeLoud was born. I realized that blogging can actually make money. Somehow, I got to know about affiliate marketing and Google AdSense after 2–3 months and I was like, “Wow, this looks interesting. How cool is that I can talk about something that I like and can make money out of it? It would be good to have this side income.” Then there was very less stuff online about blogging, making money, and I think, “Okay, whatever I'm learning, let me just blog about it on ShoutMeLoud.”
Slowly, we migrated from being a tech blog to a blog that teaches people to become a blogger. That's how it found its niche […].
Spencer: That's really interesting that even though it's always been ShoutMeLoud, it initially wasn't exactly what it is today. Like you said, it started out more as a tech blog, you were probably reviewing tech products or writing about tech news and as you learned and started documenting about what was working and how you were making money, that becomes closer to the ShoutMeLoud that we see today.
How long was that transition of it being a tech blog, before you transitioned into helping other bloggers?
Harsh: It all started as a Blogspot blog. I was in Blogspot and I think I was there for four months. Luckily around September of 2008, I hit Digg’s front page. All the […] who don't know about Digg, Digg was probably the most popular social bookmarking platform back in the days and if you hit the frontpage, that means you straightaway get 15,000–20,000 page views or visits on a single day. That's what happened and I was like, “Wow, this is amazing.”
Spencer: Do you remember what the article was that got that?
Harsh: Yeah, it has something to do with the Firefox launch, some new feature, and people were going crazy about it. Around December of 2008 is when I started moving ShoutMeLoud from Blogspot to WordPress. This is where the thing I got started because there were not many guides on how to move from Blogspot to WordPress. If there were many (there were a few), but they were not following their SEO guideline on how to setup the redirection, how to ensure that you don't lose your traffic, or users move from the Blogspot link to WordPress link.
More or less after four or five months, I was ShoutMeLoud on WordPress platform, and from there it took about 3–4 months to get into full-time blogging.
Spencer: Wow, so about how long was it before you made your first dollar? Do you remember when you monetized it for the first time?
Harsh: Yeah. It's really hard to forget your first time for anything. I was browsing through this forum, […] forum back then. Then there was this gentleman from Australia and he needed some help in his Google […]. I was like, “Okay, I'll help you,” and I helped him. Then he was like, “Dude, what's your PayPal address? Let me PayPal you something.”
I was like, “Okay.” I was just helping him without knowing that he was going to pay me. Actually, back then making money online was like taboo. It can't be a real kind of thing. That's when I signed up for PayPal and I was blown away with this idea that I can actually receive money from somewhere outside India within minutes. I guess it was $15 or something, and that's how I made my first-ever income online.
Spencer: Very exciting. It sounds like it was less than a year after you started the blog that you decided to do it full-time, is that right?
Harsh: That's true.
Spencer: Was it at that point really bringing in enough to sustain you full-time as far as income?
Harsh: Yeah. After six or seven months, I was in this stage where my company asked me to join them and I was actually making the same amount of money from my blog that I would make as a salary from the company. I was in a big dilemma, a 22 year old guy whose whole life is front, then there is blogging, the side thing he’s doing, where he’s making good money, but it was not a typical white collar thing. It's full of risk, but ultimately like I asked […], “Hey, what should I do?” from the people who are more experienced than me. People who are more senior and educated than me.
A lot of them said […], “Harsh, you should go and join the company because this experience will help you.” I was like, “Okay,” and then I called a friend of mine who was […] as mine and he was working for another IT Company. He was like, “Dude, I think you should continue with what you are doing.” I was like, “Okay,” that's the first because everybody said something else and here is somebody telling me the opposite.
He was like, “Here's the thing, people who are working at a company, all of them even me, we want to start something of our own. We want to work for two, three, four years, make some money, get some experience, and then start something of your own. You my friend on the other hand, you are actually making money. You are running a successful business, why do you want to back track?” He said something that I really wanted to hear, then I decided not to join the company, carry on with ShoutMeLoud as a full-time blogger.
Spencer: That really is the perfect time of life, you are young, you are about ready to start a professional career, but really a perfect time to have that fork in the road to make that decision. The timing is pretty good. I think you made the right decision.
Harsh: Yeah, it all turned out to be good.
Spencer: Absolutely. At the time that you quit your job, how was ShoutMeLoud making most of its money? Was it affiliate marketing and maybe display ads or something like that?
Harsh: I always believed in never putting all your eggs in one basket and that's exactly what I was doing back then. I was using a three-fold strategy. I was using affiliate marketing, I was also using Google AdSense, and I was also offering certain services like […] Blogspot to WordPress migration service and word-processing service, which was bringing most of the income back then.
Spencer: Very good. We are going to talk a little bit about ShoutMeLoud today. It's been a number of years since you quit your job, but before we jump into how successful it’s truly became, I want to talk just a little bit about the freedoms that blogging has given you. If you think about while you could have gone to this full-time professional job versus blogging, what sort of freedom has blogging given you over traditional employment?
Harsh: Spencer, I think the biggest thing it has given me is the freedom to do whatever and whenever I want. Give me that freedom to wake up at any time of the day and sleep at any time of the day. Freedom to explore, travel the world. Freedom to meet with and connect with like-minded people like we are doing right now. I don't know if my full-time job would have given me that.
It has made me more of a person who can take on a more challenging role because being a blogger is seen as running a full-time business. That means you have to make a lot of decisions everyday. You have to work with so many people. Working as a full-time, I probably would have grown in my career by 20% every year if I was outperforming everyone. Here, everyday I'm living as if it's a new day and that's what blogging has given me so far. Do you want to add something over here?
Spencer: That's awesome. I agree. I echo the ability to have that freedom. Having the autonomy to work on your own business and to take it in any direction you want. As cliche as that is, but to not have a boss, to not have somebody else telling you what to do, it really is big and can alleviate a lot of stress because you feel like you are truly in control. One of the cool things that you did mention that you have the ability to travel and I noticed on your blog that you were able to visit Antarctica not too long ago. What was that like?
Harsh: It was like traveling to an alien world. There was hardly anything. It was the cleanest and least noisiest place I've ever been. I was surrounded by penguins and I saw a lot of whales. It was quite an experience. I feel very lucky and if it weren't for blogging, I don't think I would have been there.
Spencer: I have never been there, but I might have to put it in my bucket list to do places to visit.
Harsh: Yeah, I look forward to seeing you […] on Antartica.
Spencer: Give me a couple of years. We have to plan that out for sure. Now, let's jump back in the ShoutMeLoud. I like you to share the success of ShoutMeLoud a little bit. Are you willing to share how much traffic the site gets and where the traffic is coming from?
Harsh: Sure. We are very transparent when it comes to whatever we do and I think that's because it's what helps people to really see the power of blogging. In terms of traffic, we are currently doing about one million page views a month, and most of our traffic […] is organic, comes from the search engine. I think SEO is one of our superpowers. We have referral traffic, social media traffic, but then it's all distributed after that.
Spencer: Congrats, first of all. One million page views a month is huge, that's a ton of visitors every month. To get most of it from Google is a great accomplishment.
Harsh: Thank you.
Spencer: We will dive in here just a little bit about how you are getting that traffic from Google and some of the strategies there in a second. Are you also willing to share any income details for ShoutMeLoud?
Harsh: For the first few nine years, we publish our monthly income report where we share whatever exact, however, and what ways we are making money. The last time I checked it was about $50,000. That was in 2018 and unfortunately, I don't have the current data, Spencer. But that's the one which I have.
Spencer: Okay. A pretty significant income and more than I'm sure you would have been making at a full-time job had you taken that route.
Spencer: Doing very well. Again, I just want to congratulate you. I don't know what percentile that puts you in the blogger world, but it's certainly in the top one percent of bloggers. Many try, but very few are able to make that amount of money so congrats.
Harsh: Thanks again.
Spencer: Where is that income coming from? What are the main income sources? I know we already talked a little bit about affiliate marketing, display ads, but I guess two-pronged questions. What are the top revenue sources? Like they are specifically hosting or something like that. Then second part to that question, are you still doing any services or like how you are helping with migration from blogpost before?
Harsh: Let me add […] so that a lot of our listeners can take away more ideas. We stopped using Google AdSense on our display ads all together in lieu of number one is affiliate marketing. Rather than displaying ads from Google AdSense since we know who our audience is, we started displaying very targeted ads, we are using WordPress as our platform and using this plug-in called the […].
What we do is show very highly targeted display ads. The banner ads on each and every blog post. They can […] really well. We also use something called OptinMonster, which is a very popular popup plugin, and we use that in […] technology of that plug-in to show highly targeted ads to the people who are about to exit our pages. This is something I would highly recommend every blogger to try. It would definitely have a really high conversion rate for most of us.
Spencer: To clarify that, so is each page different essentially? If whatever subject they are reading about that particular page, the pop up will be different?
Harsh: Yes. […] cluster initially. Let’s say we started SEO as a cluster and then we started filtering out more highly targeted. We probably pick 2–3 articles and then show one ad on them, things like that. Another way is like renting out your space. If you have a blog where you are already ranking on the first page for, let’s say listicle kind of articles or even if it's not listicle, it's a good article. There are brands who are going to reach out and they are like, “Hey, I want to be listed there,” or, “I want to be listed on your website.”
You can actually start renting out a spot on those high-ranking pages. Usually, you may be charging $500 or $2000 for a review article, here since you are already ranking really high, you can actually lay down those spots for $1000 for a year. This is something which I started doing since the last one-and-a-half years and it has been working out pretty well. Every year, you can actually reach out to the same advertiser and ask them for the renewal. If you’re seeing you are already offering great value, you can always increase the rental income there by 10%. Basically now, you are converting your website space as a rental space.
Spencer: I have a follow up question to that. Initially, you are looking at the articles you are already ranking for, are you then reaching out to those individuals? Those companies that are listed on your listicle article yourself?
Harsh: I have not done that. I usually […] and I usually get a lot of emails. Once you actually rank on the first page, the first few positions for a particular niche, you will definitely get a lot of emails from the targeted advertiser.
Spencer: So you are basically getting inbound emails and then just saying, “Hey we’d love to work with you here’s the terms. You can rent out the spot if you'd like,” et cetera.
Spencer: Excellent. Any other tips, these are good.
Harsh: Yeah, the next one is that we also use Easy Digital Downloads to offer shop on ShoutMeLoud, where we are selling our own products, like eBooks. We also […] plugin, which also is pretty good. That's one area that consumers look at differently. Now, in the near future and especially somebody's trying to monetize today, I would highly recommend to offer a course in your niche, whatever niche you are in. You use something like LearnDash, if you want to use WordPress, or you can use something like Thinkific and offer a course on your website.
The regular one, the sponsored post, where you can have a fixed rate for getting sponsored on the website and promotion post, like a lot of brands would want to reach out to you and ask for a single promotion on social media platform. This is something we do every now and then, and that's been working out great for us.
Spencer: To go back to selling your own course, do you have any courses that you're selling right now on ShoutMeLoud?
Harsh: Yes, we have something called […], which is being updated. We let users come twice or thrice a year and we started that in 2017 and did pretty good, so we are relaunching it again.
Spencer: Awesome. Very good and then sponsored posts that you mentioned, these are great ideas people that are blogging can implement into their own business. Why do you think that your blog has been so successful? What have been the keys to your success?
Harsh: When I reflect on why ShoutMeLoud is ShoutMeLoud, I can think of a few things. One of them is our value system, we always thought about what are we going to publish. Nobody should lose money because of us, even if that means that sometimes you have to reject $1000 offer, and we have done that a few times in the past. When we put our audience first and then make a decision based on that, it always helps us so far to grow. We have been very transparent in terms of our traffic revenue, how we do things, also all of our failures when we made mistakes and when we learn from them, we share all of it on the blog. Pretty much, that's all I can think of.
Spencer: I think that's really important and ShoutMeLoud has grown of course. It started as you blogging, but it's grown beyond that. Can you tell us a little bit about the ShoutMeLoud team? How big is that? How many people are helping you out?
Harsh: Yes, we are a very lean team, like four people. We have an editor, a virtual assistant basically, a full-time assistant, who takes care of all the development tasks, and then we work mostly with freelancers. We have a developer who is a freelancer. We have a video guy, who's also a freelancer, and mostly, this is all we have.
Spencer: Yeah, you're writing most of the content there, as I looked at the archives, you've personally written over 1000 posts now, which is a lot to write over the years. You also have more content on the site, I assume that's from mostly guest posters, is that right?
Harsh: Yeah, when we started, we started with a lot of user-generated content. ShoutMeLoud is actually the number one blog in the country in blogging niche. We have been winning awards every year. It's also the first blog which talked about blogging you see on WordPress. We open our platform for other bloggers to showcase their skills, share what they have, in turn they were getting like this backlink traffic and also the name for themselves. I don't think back when the guest blogging was like the term […]. We started offering more of a revenue sharing, where people can actually post they can actually run their own AdSense ads on their blog post, that's how we started. People were contributing every now and then, back in the days.
Initially, that's how we took off. Now, three years back we stopped accepting guest posts and now we work with some niche expert writers who contribute on topics like WordPress issues. About 70% I write myself, 30% we have these […].
Spencer: Okay, very good that makes a lot of sense. How do you come up with new blog ideas? It's been over 10 years and you're still producing content. What's the process and what's the process people should follow to come up with new blog ideas?
Harsh: It's a combination of a lot of things. The first one, do the research using a tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, use simply content gap tool, if you're trying to be a must in a particular field. Second, if you only have the skin in the game and you're really passionate about coming up with new ideas would not be a challenge because you'll be writing about something that you are already practicing on experiencing or your challenges, so that would make you discover a lot of new stuff.
To give you a very simple example, probably all the listeners, you can replicate in the niche that you are in. The other day, I was researching about this Amazon Affiliate WordPress plugin, and is there this plugin called AAWP, which, Spencer, I believe you also wrote about it.
Spencer: Yeah, I did.
Harsh: I had to do a review of the plugin and then I realize, “Okay, now I have to write about this plugin, that means I actually need to know about the whole topic.” The research started happening and I got to know about seven different WordPress plugin on the same topic and what are the features of those plugin.
This is very important as somebody who's writing in any niche because then they can actually compare different features. Now, doing this exercise helped me to come up with five different topics. Here's the thing, when you're covering all the topics around a particular thing, you are basically also improving your chance of ranking really high. That's another way that I come up with article ideas. I also often ask my readers, “What are you struggling with? What are the things that you want to learn about?” and those ideas which resonate with me, we create content around that.
Spencer: When you pick a topic idea to write about, do you always make sure it's keyword-focused? Do you always sort of target a very specific keyword or is it just whatever you feel like sometimes?
Harsh: I really chose to be whatever I feel like. Lately, in the last two years, it's mostly content, the keyword-rich. Now the topic research part happens with the help of tools and mostly it's keyword-oriented now.
Spencer: With your example that you shared, you were researching AAWP, diving into other plugins, features, and how to do that. You may have come across some other topics, like how to insert Amazon affiliate links or something. Then, you may be used Ahrefs, LongTailPro, or other keyword tools to find a very specific keyword that matches that topic, right?
Spencer: Perfect, so people can follow that process as well. With so much content that's already on your site, you're coming up with new ideas, how do you make sure that you're not cannibalizing your old content? Is it just you remembering that, “I know that I haven't written about how to insert Amazon affiliate links before, so I know I'm okay,” or is there a process or to make sure you're not duplicating content?
Harsh: That's a very interesting question, Spencer, and somebody who has been blogging for the last 10 years, I believe you must have had some experience with this.
Spencer: I've had a lot and that's why I'm asking it. I'm hoping you have a good way not to do it anymore.
Harsh: Hardly, I never bothered about this and usually Google was very smart to not analyze websites with cannibalized content. For the listener who actually don't know what cannibalization is, it's basically, you write two or three different articles on the same keyword. That confuses Google which article should I rank for that particular target keyword? Sometimes, it also happens that you may have written two or three posts on different topics, which sound similar but the way you have the internal linking actually confuses Google that, “Okay, this particular article is about blue marble,” and things like that. Do you want to add something, Spencer, here?
Spencer: Yeah, I agree and that it becomes more of a problem as you blog for many years. Perfect example from my blog is I've done a lot of case studies of building niche sites from scratch and I now have done this four times. Each time I cover these case studies, I end up writing an article on keyword research.
I found recently that I've got several articles on my site that really are all about keyword research and that's a problem because Google doesn't know which article to rank. I've got four articles on the same subject and there needs to be focus, there needs to be a way to tell Google which one of these is the most important.
Harsh: I know somewhat it takes away the natural way of blogging. It has become more mechanical because of this, but unfortunately that's how things work now. Last year, around March or April, our traffic blobbed by 50%, and it just felt like Google Panda all over again. I was like, “Okay, what am I doing wrong?” because I've been taking utmost care whenever I’m publishing a new continent.
When I looked deeply into it, I realized, “Okay, I'm affected by cannibalization, and now the journey of fixing the cannibalization issue started.” Here's what I did and something like a lot of SEOs affected by cannibalization can probably copy. You should start with the content audit, where you basically pick one category at a time.
Try to put the similar article in a group or maybe you can use a tool called Ahrefs which actually helps you find content which are cannibalized (which is a great place to start, by the way). Once you find those content which are actually cannibalized, basically two or three article research trying to rank for the same or similar keyword. Now, it's up to you to make this decision, what do you want to do with the other two articles? Which one of them do you want to rank higher?
What you can do is there are a few things you can do here, you can use Canonicalization to pass on the link juice from two of these articles to one article that you want to rank higher. You can trash one of the articles completely or you can noindex them. These are the few options that you have.
In my […], what I've seen is when I fix one cannibalized keyword, it improves the ranking of the overall website to a great extent. A single cannibalized article or single cannibalized keyword can decrease the ranking of your overall website by a significant portion.
Spencer: Yeah. I didn't know this coming into the podcast interview. It was just a question I was curious about the cannibalization, but it sounds like that was the cause of a decrease in traffic a year ago or something, is what you're saying, and that you're now putting in a lot of effort to fix that. Have you seen improvements?
Harsh: Oh yeah. We saw improvement in the September update. The final update, I saw it in this January update and we are back on track. So this is something tried and tested, and it works.
Spencer: Good and you would say that that for the most part, you think those improvements came because of cleaning up the old articles.
Harsh: Yes, a lot of restructuring, a lot of connecting the dots, like merging the content, deleting the content, and it helps.
Spencer: Very good. I'm in the middle of that myself with Niche Pursuits. Like I said, I'm aware of a few articles where I've kind of duplicated my own contents, so I'm going through the process right now of cleaning that up. It's good to hear that it's worked well for you to do that.
Continuing on with the audit theme here, do you have any additional content audit process that you follow when you think about or want to update old content?
Harsh: Yeah, one of our biggest efforts goes into updating old content. We focus on quality over quantity. Every six months, we focus on a specific category. On ShoutMeLoud, we focus on many categories like social media, SEO, WordPress plugin, WordPress hosting, WordPress themes Let's say we pick our category called WordPress plugin. We have a content audit sheet where we put things like target keywords, the volume of this keyword, stuff like reading great sentences which are very hard to read. This is something that you get from a free tool called Hemingway Editor.
We also have stuff like internal links coming to this page and outbound links going from that particular pages. Usually, what I do is hire a VA or sometimes, people from my team, like they simply work on this. We put all this data on a Google Sheet. We have a template. If you need, I could share that with you for your readers.
Spencer: That would be awesome.
Harsh: We put Google Analytics data for the last three months and then from this exercise, I try to identify two things. Number one, the low-performing content, which are not performing at all and then the high-performing content which are outperforming all the content. Now, from the high-performing content, they try to optimize them more for the conversion passing on the link choose, making sure that those article’s, those information is most accurate because they're already getting out of traffic, so we have to ensure that the new traffic that they're getting give the maximum value out of it.
The low-performing content usually there could be multiple reasons of them not performing. That could be the content is outdated, maybe it's a cannibalization issue, maybe the content has not been promoted. We manually review the content and then we make a decision based on that, like do we update, […] promote, or simply trash?
Spencer: Yeah. That would be great if you could share that content audit spreadsheet or template that you have there. I think that is something I know that I've seen a lot of successes. I've gone back and updated old content to make sure that it's still good. Anything else that you do to ensure that your content stays evergreen?
Harsh: I follow my comments every day. Usually a lot of readers come in, “Hey, this article and this tool is not working. This information is outdated,” I make sure that that information is updated in time. That’s all I do right now.
Spencer: Very good. One other question based on content here. Just a general question. I mean you get so much traffic from Google, so much SEO traffic, any other just SEO tips, things that have worked really well for you?
Harsh: There's one thing which has come up recently. You might be using it already, it's Breadcrumbs, I definitely use it. It's not exactly for the traffic, but it is for making sure that your website stays […] proof. It actually also helps in traffic indirectly. Let's say you have written a topic on […] marketing. You pick those questions which Google already shows that people also ask.
If you're using Yoast SEO or any other popular SEO plugin, they have added this feature called FAQ schema. Using that, you can add Q&A within your article. It also helps you to increase the number of words in your article and make it more meaningful. Also […] appear on Google search as a Q&A and you're also making your website feature proof and people are going to use, and they're already using it on this thing like Elixir or their Google device to ask questions. You are more likely increasing your chance to appear there.
Spencer: Yeah, I like that. That’s good tips. Go ahead, did you have another one?
Harsh: Yeah, definitely.
Harsh: This one is internal links. You should make sure that you are doing a lot of contextual internal links on your website. A good example of this is Wikipedia. You might notice that apart from the fact that Wikipedia has really high quality content, they update it very often, they also have a lot of internal links from one page to another. It adds a lot of value for search engines as well as for the readers because search engines can see that you are actually creating a public cluster, that you have a sub-topic covered around one topic. Your user stays on your website for a longer period and it gives a good signal to the search engine.
Internal linking is a very important aspect. That’s something we have been doing for the last 10 years. That's how me and Spencer started talking recently., when he launched his plugin Link Whisper, which is, by the way, amazing.
Spencer: Thank you, I appreciate that. I agree that internal linking is very important. Thanks for bringing that up.
Harsh: Yeah, but one important thing. Do mindfully internal linking. It’s not important that you should have 15 internal links from one article to another. If it is irrelevant and if you're not being mindfully, you might end up creating cannibalization issues and stuff like that. So, be mindful.
Spencer: Very good. You’ve been blogging for a long time and there's always so much to do with your site. You could really probably spend 20 hours a day if you wanted to. The producing new content, doing content audits, optimizing for SEO, but you also need to have a life outside of work. How do you manage your work-life balance?
Harsh: That's one of my favorite questions Spencer. I have a very fluid working style even though I try to be as regular as I could. I consider myself as quite creative and have a fluid working style. If you put me in a system, I basically break. I do a few things like, I work when I enjoy it, and then take a break. Sometimes, the break could be for two days or three days. I travel a lot.
There's one issue that happened especially now with my workaholic mindset. I was not giving enough time to my family. Then I realized, the work-life balance which we talk about, it's basically finding a balance between two of your love. First love is your work, second love is your family or vice versa. I realized maybe I should give more time to my family and that's when we added this thing called date night. It’s something I would highly recommend to all the bloggers and entrepreneurs who are married, or have a girlfriend or boyfriend, try this.
How does it work is like, you fix a day of every week and time, and that's the time you go out for dinner or lunch with your partner, and you don't take your phone, or even if you take your phone, it’s best if it’s not there. That's a quality time you spend with your partner and that's a time that you actually connect. That takes care of a lot of issues that happens otherwise with your partner. Trust me, if your partner is happy, you are always happy.
Spencer: Great advice.
Harsh: Apart from that, I take care of my physical and mental health. I do yoga regularly, I do meditation regularly, I go to a spa once every month, that’s how it happens.
Spencer: Tell me a little bit about your meditation experience and how that's helped you. What do you do exactly there?
Harsh: I knew about mediation but I was never too much into it. A few years back, I feel like I have everything but I'm not happy. I was like, “There's something more that should be there,” and that's the time when I discovered more about meditation that this could help you to stay centered, and be more compassionate, be more mindful, and I started practicing it. I started reading it basically. There were a few books like The Power of Now, The Surrender Experiment of how to work.
This book I've read. I read this book for […] many of these meditation and spirituality-related books. Now, there was one thing which was common among all the books was meditate. They were showing different techniques of meditation.
I know one thing, you can't learn swimming by reading. I was looking for a way that I could actually meditate apart from the fact that I was using YouTube app or you might have heard of this app called Headspace. Those apps were doing okay but not to the point where I could feel like, “Okay, I'm doing enough.” That’s where I learned about this technique called Vipassana, where you actually go to a center for 10 days, it's completely free.
When you go there, you actually submit your phone, you're not allowed to talk to anyone, you're not in touch with anyone outside the world. For 10 days, you simply meditate. You don't speak and you're meditating from morning to evening. The first time I did it, it just started changing my life for good. That is something which I've been practicing since then. It's been three years. Every year I go for 10 days of such a retreat, and then I practice meditation regularly.
For all the creative and non-creative people out there who have been hustling with life, trying to do things every day, I think adding meditation to your life would definitely give the change and give you a larger than life perspective.
Spencer: Thank you for sharing. I agree that it's important to stay grounded, and the process that you fall there through meditation sounds like certainly has worked well for you. I think that's important to stay in touch with yourself and things just outside of work. Working, of course, is important, but we like to get as much done as possible in as little time as possible. Do you have any productivity hacks that you can share with listeners?
Harsh: I have a few things that I do and they really helped me and feel free to pick any one of these steps that resonate with you. Definitely, like a to-do list app or use something called to-do list. Basically, your mind is there to think and not capture or memorize things. Whenever you remember something, like you have to do this particular task, rather than keeping it in your head, note it down. Use that to-do list app or just simply note it down or dial it in.
One of the challenges which I always face is getting things done. Starting a project and then finishing it. I look into my to-do list and then I see that, oh shoot, this is something I'm supposed to do. Last year I implemented this technique called Getting Things Done by David Allen. It has helped a lot. It’s something I highly recommend. I also look at the time […] on the things that waste a lot of my time.
I use a password manager called Dashlane which basically ensures that my secret is top notch and I don’t waste my time trying to remember or using the forget password. It’s quite interesting that we waste a lot of time doing that. I plan my day and week in advance. If tomorrow, whatever I have to do, I’ll have at least three tasks designed for tomorrow and I make sure that the first task that I will be doing tomorrow is the toughest task of the day. Otherwise, I end up procrastinating that.
The last one which is something […] savvy, start monitoring your time, your habit on how you're spending your time online, on your computer or on your mobile. You can use something like RescueTime, which basically helps you to analyze where have you spent your time daily, or weekly, or even yearly. Using this, I was able to find out there were a few apps where I was spending a lot of my time and they were not adding any value. Just by removing them, I was able to focus more on the things that are really adding value to my life.
Spencer: Very good. Some great tips to help people be a little bit more productive. A couple ideas that I'm going to look into as well. I could probably use a little RescueTime every now and again. It takes discipline so that's a good tip, a good productivity hack that perhaps I can even implement.
I want to thank you for coming on. I just have one final question here, just open ended. If there's anything that we didn't cover, that you would like to have covered, just any additional advice for bloggers out there that are hoping to become successful. Any tips for them?
Harsh: I think we pretty much covered most of it. Monetization, SEO, work-life, and to put the final nail in the coffin, let’s start with this one. I definitely want you to contribute to this one Spencer. Here is my solution, be consistent. Consistency is one of both social attribute that everyone admire even the society admire, and it actually ensures that something becomes a habit. For a blogger, the writing or creating new stuff is consistency. Make sure that every day, every other day, you're writing, you're consistent with your writing. Even if it's for 15 minutes, it works, but at least be there.
The last one actually will save your time in growing and becoming successful. Connect with the people in the niche that you are in. Let’s say you're a food blogger, join all of the food bloggers who are an expert or who have been there for many years. Connect with them. Talk to them. Talk about how they are, how they manage their life, how they manage their business. Always remember, you are the sum of the five people that you hang out with the most. People on some days also rubs on you. Those are mine too. How about you Spencer?
Spencer: Those are great. I would just add for people to just get started. I think too often, we over analyze things, and maybe research, and read, and think about what we want to do and what we want to accomplish. In reality, we need to just for writing a blog, just start writing, or just start that task right away. That dovetails into what you said about productivity. Putting the most difficult task first in the day, I like that a lot. Just start your day right away, get to work.
Whether you're just getting started out, just go and start your blog. Or if you've already got an existing business, just start that task that you need to tackle right away, just meet it head-on. That's how you're going to be successful, is not over analyzing things, would just jump in with both feet, and doing your best to succeed at that. That would be my tip.
Harsh: Yeah, that's a solid advice. Too much planning is actually the sign of laziness and procrastination. Just take action. Awesome.
Spencer: Absolutely. Thank you so much for coming on the Niche Pursuits podcast. Not only did you share a lot of great tips that I think new bloggers and people with existing blogs can learn from, I actually have a couple of things that I picked up as well that I want to implement. Thank you so much, Harsh, for coming on the Niche Pursuits podcast.
Harsh: Yeah, happy to share. Thank you Spencer.
Spencer: Thank you.
Thank you once again for listening to the Niche Pursuits podcast. As a reminder, this episode has been sponsored by Ezoic. Ezoic is a Google award-winning technology that everyone from niche website owners to major brands use to grow and monetize their websites. Ezoic is a Google-certified publishing partner. It’s a platform that leverages artificial intelligence to help you optimize revenue and monetization on a per visitor basis and so much more. If you want to check out Ezoic, go to nichepursuits.com/ezoic. Thanks a lot.
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