I remember stumbling upon Ileane through a mutual circle of friends on twitter. She was really active and had a lot of great advice. I had to follow her because she seemed engaging. I have not been disappointed since. Ileane has done something I never have done, started blogging on a free blog service. She really proved a good point that even if you eventually become a successful blogger, you do not always have to jump in and invest in a domain name and web hosting. I do know one thing, Ileane is a blogging and social networking maniac – in a good way. If it is not her site, she can be found guest blogging. Have not had her here yet, but perhaps one day she might sneak one in and I get a heart attack from surprise. 😉
Eventually, she started Basic Blog Tips, which with her enthusiastic and knowledgeable blogging, along with inviting guests to come write, she has become a great asset to the blogs about blogging niche.
Nile: Before I go into the questions, please tell myself and the readers a little about yourself.
Ileane: My name is Ileane Smith and I have been blogging for over a year and started Basic Blog Tips in July of 2010 to provide blogging tips, social media advice and video tutorials for new and intermediate bloggers. Visit Basic Blog Tips and follow Ileane on Twitter.
Nile: What inspired you to start blogging, or why did you start blogging?
Ileane: I tell the whole story about how I started blogging by accident in an interview I did with Karen from BlazingMinds but the short version of my blogging story is this – I thought I was subscribing to my daughter’s old WordPress.com blog (don’t laugh at this) but as it turned out I was signing up for my own blog instead! That was in July of 2009 and at the time the only thing I knew about a blog was that you could have one on the Internet. Once I got my hands on some tutorials from Lynda.com and Lisa Irby from 2createawebsite, I started to feel more comfortable with the WordPress dashboard. Before I knew it I was starting to create my own versions of blogging tutorials using screenshots to include a more visual effect. Months later I was introduced to screencasting and that’s where I think I found my calling. I really enjoy creating video tutorials and I plan to expand on them as time goes by. It‘s been a gradual progression and I plan on keeping up the momentum.
Nile: You have built your sites on a free host before starting Basic Blog Tips on a self-hosted WordPress CMS. Since I know you used both Blogger and WordPress free hosts, what are your thoughts on both? Which do you like better, and why?
Ileane: Blogger and WordPress.com both have advantages and I continue to maintain an active blog on Blogger called Basic Podcasting Tips. I haven’t added new content to my former WordPress.com blog Ms. Ileane Speaks, but it continues to get traffic from Google and I’ll keep it alive as long as people continue to find helpful articles based on relevant web searches.
It’s very easy to start blogging with Blogger due to it’s simplistic nature, I’d recommend it to new comers and other casual bloggers. WordPress.com is far more intricate and Automattic (the think-tank behind WordPress) announces new themes and options frequently. By comparison Google rarely updates the Blogger interface and the changes they do make are easy to grasp quickly for instance they recently added an internal stats tracking feature, similar to what’s been available on WordPress.com for years.
To answer your question about which one I like better, I never could decide, that’s exactly why I ended up using both 🙂
Nile: 3. Have you ever had some difficulty in the beginning when trying to reach a target audience? If so, how did you overcome that issue?
Ileane: As I mentioned before, when I started, I wasn’t very knowledgeable in many aspects of blogging. At the time I thought my target audience was everyone on the Internet (at times I still think I have grandiose dreams lingering in the back of my mind somewhere). The real challenge for me was accepting the fact that I needed to find a niche and later it became figuring out exactly what that niche should be! I’m slowly starting to overcome issues with applying SEO strategies and keyword research but my social networking skills seem to be taking up the slack. Providing free video tutorials is truly a niche in it’s own right.
Nile: In your opinion, what is it that you believe a person must do in order to become influential amongst their niche?
Ileane: In my case, I never focused on becoming influential, I just embraced others in the community and tried to reach out and help people in a meaningful way. Over time I saw people writing posts about me, linking to me in on their blog rolls and inviting me write guest post for them. For example a few weeks ago Karl Foxley, a blogger who I have a huge amount of respect for, wrote a post called Have You Met Ileane Smith from Basic Blog Tips. I got pretty chocked up when I saw that one. 🙂
In addition to Twitter, here’s the list of some communities I belong to that offer substantial ROI (return on investment) for the amount of time and effort I spend on them:
I also believe it’s very important to find an online mentor (or two), and joining a blogging community is an excellent place to start. When I joined Blog Engage I met the owner Brian, Hesham from FamousBloggers.net and John Sullivan of BloggerLuv and those guys really supported me and helped me find direction. There’s a long list of women bloggers who helped me sort things out too, like you for instance Nile, and then there’s Gail from GrowMap, Donna Fontenot and of course Lisa Irby. Really, there’s too many to mention and that’s why I recommend joining a great community.
Nile: What advice to you have for new bloggers who want to become successful and influential?
Ileane: Have patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you’re blogging empire won’t be either. Network with other bloggers by commenting and guest posting on other popular blogs in your niche. Go out and join forums and blogging communities so you can improve your skill set. Use time management to break up your schedule and devote most of your time doing what gives you the best results. For example, if you share a post on Facebook and send out a Tweet on the same day, check your stats to see where most of the traffic is coming from, or look at the comments that come in on the post to see which community brings you the most value. If Twitter is working for you, do a few searches on a specific #hashtags related to your post to see if you can find some new Tweeple to follow. Most likely they’ll check your stream, find your awesome post and follow you back. Even Google Buzz has allowed me to connect and gain valuable insights.