We are once again back with another interview. This time, we have Donna as our guest.
Donna Merrill blogs at DonnaMerrillTribe.com. Connect with her on the social media: Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin | Google+ | Youtube
Q1: Introduce yourself to the AmplifyBlog Community. Tell us how you got started, what challenges you faced early on etc.
I'm Donna Merrill, founder of DonnaMerrillTribe.com - my personal blog.
When I first started this blog , some 6 years ago, I really had very little idea of what I was doing.
I had operated a private practice as an intuitive consultant for some 15 years prior to this. As the worldwide economy was shifting and morphing, I had a drastic increase in the number of my clients who were looking for alternatives to traditional employment.
Th whole concept of job security seemed to be rapidly dying and I knew people would have to start finding their own independence from the new world economy in order to survive and thrive.
For myself, I had always been an entrepreneur and had lived independent of the job and career world practically my entire life.
But I really wanted to explore avenues that others could explore to find the same kind of independence.
Working online in some manner seemed to be the most promising and universal approach to take.
So, I started my blog as a sort of pioneering venture into the world of the online economy.
My earliest challenges were, first, having no technical or computer skills at all, and second, having absolutely no human connections online .
This was, indeed, a strange new world for me.
Q2: Tell us about your blog , how it got started?
Blogging seemed like a natural way for me to begin working online because I had been helping people all my life in once capacity or another.
A blog seemed like a perfect way to continue along these lines.
It was an opportunity to get to know people online , learn about their dreams and challenges, and find out what was working for them, and why they were failing.
I immediately sought to join with others who were in my niche, which I didn't know it at the time, but I now define as blogging and internet marketing.
I gravitated toward working within blogging communities, which I identified as "tribes" according to Seth Godin's book of the same name.
Godin described how people work best when they band together into loose associates he called "tribes." Blogging tribes are simply communities of bloggers. The members support each other by visiting one another's blogs, commenting on thm, sharing them on their social sites and so forth.
Tribes breath life into what is otherwise, at the outset, a very lonely island amidst an unknown sea called the blogosphere.
I immediately immersed myself in various blogging communities. It was the beginning of the growth of my blog into prominence.
To this day my blog as well as most of my social profiles are called Donna Merrill "Tribe."
This is in recognition of the fact that I could not thrive in the blogosphere to the extent I have, were it not for those of my "tribe" friends and associates.
Q3: What motivates you to keep going?
My motivation comes from helping others.
I never think of my business as consisting of "blog readers," "visitors," "list subscribers,"customers" or "clients."
It consists of people.
Each one of them is a unique, flesh and blood human being. Each one has his/her own very real dreams, ambitions and challenges.
I am in the business of improving the lives of each person who visits my blog .
That's why I blog .
That is what motivates me to always post content that I believe will improve each reader's life, even if it's in the smallest way.
One blog post might help a person to understand why they need to build an email list. Doing so will help them build a better business and pay their bills at the end of the month.
Another article might encourage people to stop procrastinating, and start working toward fulfilling their dreams immediately, rather than putting it off until tomorrow.
Some posts might be serious and strategic, others might be motivational, sometimes I even use a bit of humor.
Everything I do, though, is with one purpose in mind... to improve the lives of everyone I'm communicating with on my blog .
This is what motivates me to continue along with my path, and to actually work harder each day in an attempt to increase my reach and to help as many people as possible.
Q4: What are some of the blogs that you follow?
I don't really have a defined blog roll that I turn to on an ongoing basis. Q5: Do you have a mentor? Or someone you look up to. I've had many mentors in the course of my blogging and internet marketing career. Q6: What are some of your content amplification strategies? What are the various sources that you use to promote your articles? The only promotion I do for my blog is social media and blog commenting. Q7: What is your advice to new bloggers ? I've already mentioned that I always, always advise new bloggers to find a good coach as soon as possible. Q8: What is your biggest fear? I guess my biggest fear is that I get tired of blogging . Q9: How do you maintain a work life balance? I go "on vacation" every day. Q10: What are some of your favourite blogging tools? I don't use many blogging tools.
I do, though, have some blogs that I find particularly valuable, and I do visit them very often.
These blogs are...
Enstine Muki - Connect with Enstine on AmplifyBlog
Ryan Biddulph - Check out Ryan Biddulph Interview
I don't like to mention names because people tend to think that just because I had a good experience with someone, they will, too.
I will say, though, that I worked with coaches/mentors when I first started my blog and had no idea what I was doing.
As I started gaining in confidence, I hired mentors to help understand more strategic ways to position myself online .
When I became a top blogger in my niche (what is often referred to as a "pro blogger ")... I hired mentors to help me learn new ways to elevate my business.
Each time I venture into a new aspect of internet marketing (heaven knows there are so many), I hire mentors to keep me pointed in the right direction.
I am working with a mentor as I write this, to assist me in marketing my digital information products and coaching programs, of which I have many.
I am involved every single day with top level internet marketers and bloggers . I know them personally and talk to them all the time.
They all hire mentors.
They do so repeatedly.
I do also.
I strongly suggest that every single person does the same.
There's no good time to "start getting some coaching."
The moment you decide you're serious about blogging or internet marketing, you need to find a good mentor.
And you will definitely never reach so high a level in your business that you no longer need a mentor.
It's simply a requirement.
Otherwise you're in for long, hard times, many disappointments and serial failures... all of which could probably have been prevented with some good coaching to guide your steps.
I visit blogs in my niche every single day.
I leave good and meaningful comments on them, share them out when I think they are valuable to my social media friends, followers and associates.
Other bloggers will generally reciprocate in kind, thereby getting the word out about my blog .
I also enjoy exposure to their readers via their comment threads.
Meanwhile, my own blog gets a lot of comments.
I work hard to reply in a timely manner to all comments, and I use the opportunity to enhance the discussion, not just to acknowledge a comment.
A big part of my blog comment "shout out" is the CommentLuv plugin .
It's really powerful because it provides for everyone who leaves a comment on my blog to instantly get a visible link to their recent posts.
It really encourages engagement and makes it easy for me and my readers to visit the blogs of my visitors who take a few moments to leave a comment.
Besides blog commenting, I use social media sites to announce my latest blog posts, as I do on the various newsletters I send to my email lists.
I link back to my blog posts whenever I'm working online if it fits the context of the activity.
So, I'll often link to my blog from within one of my membership sites, or inside of an info product I have in the marketplace, or within a forum post or video.
Anytime I'm having conversations with people online , I'll link to one or two of my blog posts if it is pertinent. I use my blog as a resource to further explain my teaching on subjects that arise anywhere at anytime.
It not only steers them in the right direction, but it shortens their learning curve and drastically lessens the time it will take to find success.
The other big thing I try to impress on new bloggers is to turn their blog into a sales funnel right from the start.
In other words, use content upgrades, mailing lists, banners and native ad links to build your email list, or to get people to become your customers and clients right from your blog .
I think this is best done within the context of each and every blog post your write.
New bloggers usually think that when they reach some magical point when they're getting "enough" traffic, then they'll set up some kind of monetizing scheme for their blog .
I urge them to set this up on day one.
Even if one person visits your blog , you need to have a funnel in place to move them through if there's any chance at all of being able to convert them into a subscriber or buyer.
New bloggers tend to wait for some vague magical time to start this.
That time is on day one of publishing your first blog post.
Sometimes I think, maybe I'll wake up one day and not have a burning desire to go to my blog and find a new way to help more people.
It's not a very realistic fear, though, because I've woken up with precisely that motivation every single day since I first started blogging
I don't really think I'll ever lose this motivation.
But sometimes I fear I might.
That might mean walk along the beach, or a cup of coffee with my husband (who is also my business partner).
Sometimes it amounts to little more than rolling on the floor with my Bluetick Hound, but another day it might be a day of shopping at the local shops (one of my favorites... hehe ).
The point is, I take time out of each day to have a real life.
Even cooking and gardening are breaks from the computer, and in their own little ways are "vacations" of sorts.
That said, I typically work quite a few hours in a day on my business mainly because I just love doing it.
Sometimes I wonder if doing something I love so much should really be called work.
I've mentioned CommentLuv and that's important to me.
I don't use pop-ups and sliders and slithers and any of the things a lot of bloggers do.
That's because I hate them as a blog visitor, especially the splash pages that are all the rage these days.
I don't care that "everyone" shows me some kind of proof that those things work, I can't in good faith use something as a blogger that I hate being subjected to as a blog visitor.
I create most of my own images with Canva and Pagemodo, and I do videos quite often with my webcam and Screenflow software.
Other than that, my blog is mostly a matter of me grabbing my keyboard and fleshing out some interesting things on my Wordpress page editor.
I'm a minimalist in life.
I don't like much furniture in a room, and I hate knick-knacks and other things that impose on people's peace of mind.
I guess I operate my blog in much the same fashion.
It's much more about substance and good conversation than it is about glitter and glitz.
Q5: Do you have a mentor? Or someone you look up to.
I've had many mentors in the course of my blogging and internet marketing career.
Q6: What are some of your content amplification strategies? What are the various sources that you use to promote your articles?
The only promotion I do for my blog is social media and blog commenting.
Q7: What is your advice to new bloggers ?
I've already mentioned that I always, always advise new bloggers to find a good coach as soon as possible.
Q8: What is your biggest fear?
I guess my biggest fear is that I get tired of blogging .
Q9: How do you maintain a work life balance?
I go "on vacation" every day.
Q10: What are some of your favourite blogging tools?
I don't use many blogging tools.