Digital Marketing with Adam Connell

Adam Connell interview

Where are you from and where are you based now?

I’m from (and based in) the West Midlands, United Kingdom. 

How old are you?  I’m 33.

When and how did you get into digital marketing and what were you doing before?

My interest in digital marketing started in college. I was studying music technology – not exactly the kind of topic that would generate interest in marketing.

It all started with a conversation I had with my lecturer about how easy it was to start a record label. That was the genesis of it. It opened my mind to the possibilities but it was a while till I pursued it as a career.

Fast-forward some years later and I was working a remote customer service role. I was working with some wonderful people but the job itself was emotionally draining.

I was desperate to find a job I enjoyed. Likewise, I enjoyed the marketing aspect of the record label I ran at college but I had no formal education and minimal experience.

A formal education in marketing wasn’t an option at the time so my plan was to get as much experience as I could marketing my own projects.

So, I started a video game blog with a friend from work. We grew the site to 15K visitors/month within the first 2-3 months. At its peak, we had 30 writers and we were the first site in the UK to get the Oculus Rift.

The process of building a website with WordPress taught me a lot, so I started a website to share what I was learning.

While working on both of these projects, I was still working full time and I had my eyes pinned on job websites in the hope of finding an entry level marketing job.

Then, finally, it happened. I found a digital marketing role at a local agency. The problem? I couldn’t get time off to go to the group interview. 

Fortunately, I was able to drop by the office for an informal interview on a different day. But the odds were stacked against me. I was up against qualified marketers – that just wasn’t me.

But, it turns out that experience won out over marketing qualifications. Having a piece of paper saying you can do something just can’t compare to being able to demonstrate that you can do the job.

Tell us about one of your biggest successes to date in digital marketing?

Back when I was operations manager at a local marketing agency, we launched a new service. While juggling regular client work & team management, I handled the marketing for this new service.

With no budget, and while spending a few days each month on marketing it, I was able to turn it into a 6 figure business within 3-4 months. 

And I did this by writing guest posts for industry publications, as well as some articles for our own blog. The crazy thing is that most of these guest posts referred a pitiful amount of traffic.

When and why did you start Blogging Wizard?

I started Blogging Wizard in December 2012 – not too long after I landed my marketing agency role.

My goal was to simply share what I was learning at my day job.

Back when I was building & marketing websites to get experience, I followed some bad advice. Particularly where SEO was concerned. So, I wanted to ensure that other bloggers didn’t make the same mistakes as me.

What kind of success has Blogging Wizard had?

It’s strange thinking back. We’re coming up to Blogging Wizard’s 9th birthday and it has been crazy.

I remember conversations with my boss about it. He’d ask how things were going and I’d be stoked that I was getting a few hundred pounds each month.

Fast forward to today, and it’s a 6 figure business that reaches millions of people each year.
But most importantly: it has enabled me to earn a living doing what I enjoy. Leaving my job to focus on my own projects was a surreal moment, only topped by the day I was able to hire my girlfriend so she could leave her job.

What kind of topics do you cover with the blog posts you write?

Our core audience is bloggers. So, naturally, we have a strong focus on blogging but we also dig deeper into related topics such as WordPress, social media, SEO, CRO, etc.

What advice do you have for bloggers wanting to monetize their content effectively?

There’s something I never see people talking about when it comes to monetizing a blog. 

Certain components of your blog need to exist in harmony. For example, your business model, your audience, your content strategy, and your content marketing strategy – these all need to fit together like a glove.

Here’s an example:
I see a lot of people trying to monetize with ads, then publish review style content and expect that social can deliver enough traffic.

That is what I like to call a blog that is out of alignment.

Review style content works best if affiliate marketing is your business model, and you’re focused on driving traffic from organic search.

If you want to make money with ads, you need to look at content types that can go viral on social. 

So, start with your business model and work to understand the best content, and marketing opportunities to support it.

As Google changes its algorithms from time to time, what advice do you give for optimizing a blog’s SEO?

The SEO space typically has a “the sky is falling” type mindset when it comes to Google updates.

Try to keep away from that type of thinking and ignore top-level data studies. They completely miss the context of the situation.

Keep your focus on creating the best content to satisfy search intent. Then, mitigate risk by scaling your content output.

For example, if you have a few articles that are driving most of your revenue, you’ll want to diversify that as much as possible.

Remember that SEO is just one part of the marketing puzzle. You need a great content strategy as well. If you get that right, you’ll earn more links naturally. 

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to a newbie wanting to make money in digital marketing?

Learn everything you can about sales funnels. Then become a freelance writer. 

Write about whatever you enjoy but make sure you have a solid sales funnel in place. You need to be prepared to work for free (or very little money) initially. 

You know, write a few guest posts here and there with links back to your landing page. Providing you choose blogs that actually get relevant traffic, you’ll find that you start getting inquiries coming in.

Heck, it’s been happening to me for years and I don’t advertise (or offer) any writing/marketing services.
My article on ways to get paid for the content you create is worth a read if you’d like to know more.

Do you have any tips for what will be big in blogging in 2021?

Video and podcasting are already pretty big. And they’re going to get bigger.

By combining written content with video, and podcasting, you’ll be able to grow your audience further (and faster).

Where can people follow you?
You can reach me on Twitter @adamjayc or join the Blogging Wizard newsletter

We enjoyed speaking with you. Thanks for your time!