Interview with Syed Balkhi of wpbeginner.com
You may have already read my previous post about Top 10 bloggers in Pakistan so I thought it would be great if I take interview of the number one and most successful blogger of Pakistan. Yes you guess it right today Syed Balkhi of wpbeginner.com is my guest and we will all learn some great tips from his blogging journey. Its funny to tell you about wpbeginner.com because you all know about this site very well but for those who are new to this world let me tell you some of the stats about this site first.
Let’s Start interview with Syed Balkhi
Welcome to my blog Syed Balkhi. Please tell us about yourself, your education, from where you belongs etc.
I was born in Karachi, Pakistan. My family moved to USA when I was 11 years old. I got a Bachelors degree in Anthropology and Religion from University of Florida. I speak Urdu, and English fluently. You can find more details about me on my biography here: http://www.balkhis.com/about/
I am the founder of a fairly popular blog WPBeginner. This is how most folks know me by. Overtime, I have had many labels: Designer, Developer, Internet Marketer, Affiliate Marketer, SEO guy, Social Media Guy, Domainer, etc. I think of myself as an entrepreneur with a good understanding of topics that concern my business.
What was your dream or what you wanted to be in your life before you came into blogging field.
Like most Pakistani parents, my parents wanted me to be a doctor. I was in the pre-med track throughout my High School. I was in pre-med for the first year of my college as well. But ever since I moved to United States, I was involved with the internet (playing games, designing wallpapers, and creating websites). So it wasn’t like an overnight realization that I didn’t want to be a doctor. There came a point in college, where I would have to give up one or the other. Basically, my internet business was taking up a lot of my time which impacted my studies. I had to make a decision, and it was pretty clear what I loved more. My parents were surely disappointed for the first six months to a year. But they have come around to support me in this career. I think the main reason was because they didn’t understand the internet industry. They didn’t think of it as a successful career, but after seeing my growth, they are convinced.
Please tell us about your blogging journey. How you entered into this field and why?
As lame as it may sound, I entered the online industry because I had no friend when I moved to U.S. I didn’t speak english very well (I had a thick accent). I could write, so I started playing games online. I built a website for one of our guilds, online gaming groups using a free website builder “Webs.com”, formerly Freewebs. (My bio gives a long story about this). But in short, from one website to another, by 2006 I had hundreds of websites. I was doing a lot of SEO, and I knew the future was in fresh content. I started using WordPress to add blogs to my various niche websites.
How many blogs you own and what are your expertise.
I own quite a few blogs right now. But a lot of them are in small niches, which I don’t want to reveal. My popular blogs that most folks known about are WPBeginner and List25. I used to do a personal blog at Balkhis, but due to time constraints, I haven’t been able to blog there in a while. It is in my goals to revamp that blog this year. Lets see if schedule permits for that.
Every person in this world has some ideal which he follows so who inspired you alot.
Aside from my parents, my ideal would have to be my oldest uncle (on my mom’s side). I always looked up to him as a kid. He studied really hard. Top the Karachi university, and got a scholarship to study in U.S.A (30+ years ago). He worked really hard, got a job in U.S.A. He became a citizen here and sponsored all of his siblings to come to United States. This is how I ended up being here (through my mom). Coming to United States opened a huge window of opportunities for me. Because I was very comfortable in Pakistan, with a lot of friends and hobbies. Coming to a totally different country and cultural environment turned me into a person that I am today. I look up to my uncle because he is a living example for me that shows anyone can make it. We were from a lower middle-class family in Pakistan. Through his hard work, he was able to accomplish so much success. The best part is that he is extremely humble. He helps everyone, and I hope that I can too someday.
Now come to the most asked question from any blogger and that is how you bring traffic to your blog. Tell us about your SEO and Marketing strategies.
I don’t do any advertising or marketing for WPBeginner anymore. Majority of it comes from my engagement in social media. I love talking to people and helping when I can. I did that with WPBeginner on twitter. It was not an overnight success. I can say that word-of-mouth is probably the most effective form of advertisement. I didn’t bother purchasing banner ads on other sites etc. I put all the efforts into producing great content, and providing excellent customer service. From there, our users did it all. They shared the links, told their friends about the site etc. I also networked with a lot of bloggers. I wrote guest posts, I helped them with development work etc. In my networking, I didn’t approach guys with an offer. I simply became a reader of their site. Commented regularly, and contributed. Slowly but surely, they started linking to me because they saw my brand. My SEO and marketing strategies are rather unconventional. I write quality content, I provide excellent customer service, and I network with bloggers in my industry. The rest happens on its own. (i.e Customers talk about us, other bloggers link to our quality content, and then quality content ranks high in search).
Since 2009 i am a regular reader of your blog and i haven’t see any significant drop in your blog traffic. So my question is Why WPBeginner is not effected by any Google Algo like Panda, Penguin etc and what’s the secret of its success.
The secret is that I’m not gaming the system. I don’t care for the search engines. We write for our users. We write what they want us to write. I don’t go around buying links. I also don’t link to our sites from 500,000 of our own pages. It’s that simple. Stop writing for search engine bots. Stop keyword stuffing. Write for your audience and make it easy to read. Write good content, and people will link to you. Offer good support, and people will talk about you. That’s all I can say about that.
What you say about blogging in Urdu. Lots of Pakistani bloggers are blogging in Urdu but they don’t have any monetization methods so what you suggest for them.
Blogging in Urdu is good in theory, but the market is not there yet. You are limiting your audience and your sources of traffic. You are also limiting your advertisers. My cousins in US are Pakistani who speak Urdu, but cannot read Urdu. So you are limited to only those who can read Urdu. Most advertisers only pay good rates for U.S, UK, Canada, and Australia’s audience. CPC and CPM rates for countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh etc are extremely low. You are in new waters where you have to figure out your own ways. This is going to be hard, but it is not impossible for those who are passionate. You can always work out direct deals with Pakistani companies. It depends on how bad you want it.
Syed Balkhi you are a very active blogger and most successful blogger of Pakistan . What if i ask you to create an adsense revenue sharing website like Indyarocks.com for Pakistan and also what are your future plans.
It’s an interesting proposition. Unfortunately, not the direction that I’m going in. In terms of future plans for me, I always try to keep them private. I am a very open person, but I am very reserved about some stuff (including my future plans). This is only because if I talk about it, you will see numerous copy cats out there in no-time.
Have you ever face a time in your blogging career when you say to yourself that it’s time to leave. Please also tell us the most happiest moment of your blogging life.
The answer to your first question is NO. I’m passionate about my career, and I am extremely motivated. I have had my fair share of failures, but it never managed to break my spirits. I have also had a fair share of success. I don’t know what was the happiest moment. I guess one of the coolest things was when the folks from Webs Inc. reached out to me asking us to develop their blog. Thinking back that I created one of my first websites using their platform, it really was gratifying to see how far I have come.
Syed Balkhi its totally up to you that you answer to this question or not. How much you earn from blogging.
I’d rather not answer. I make enough money.
Pakistan has many challenges in IT field so in your view what is the future of IT and blogging in Pakistan.
Pakistan has a lot of talent. However the biggest thing I notice is lack of focus. I did this because I was passionate about it. If you notice my education was not in IT. I did not learn to code from a class, or a tech institute. I learned by actually trying things. The reason why I did it was my passion. I broke so many sites to get to where I am. Heck, I break WPBeginner every once in a while. You should ask my server team, and they will tell you how much they hate me. I could easily just ask them to do it, but it wouldn’t be fun then. I try to do it and screw up most of the time. Getting back to the point, there is talent in Pakistan. As long as folks recognize their talent and stay focused, then I can say there is a bright future of IT and blogging in Pakistan.
Last but not least message for bloggers specially for young bloggers.
My message to all young bloggers would be don’t run after success. Run after excellence, and success will follow you. If you are in blogging for money more than your passion, then you should save your time and quit now. You will NOT be successful. I see so many Pakistani bloggers coming out with yet another tech blog or design blog. Why don’t you innovate? Just because your friend did it and is making $500 / month doesn’t mean you can create 3 of the same sites and make $1500 / month. It is the stupidest mistake that I see young bloggers doing. Do you ever think that you have a shot of being the next TechCrunch? or Mashable? I see young bloggers creating “Blogging Tips” site. You just started blogging. You are NOT a problogger. Just because Problogger (Darren Rowse) makes money from giving blogging tips, doesn’t mean that is his main source of income. Most affiliate bloggers and well-known bloggers do not make their money from their popular blogs. For example, Darren runs a very successfuly Digital Photography website. Shoemoney has hundreds of products and websites that he makes his majority of income. John Chow didn’t make his money from his personal blog. He had other ventures like TTZ Media, and other sites that made him a lot of his money. Blogging about making money, or blogging about blogging is probably the worst mistake new bloggers make. First every sensible reader knows that you are NOT an expert. Second, it hurts you more than it helps you. People know you are simply copying content and topics from other sites like Darren’s.
Try to be innovative. Go in niche’s that are not crowded. Bring a unique perspective with your site. Don’t be just another “xyz” site. Be the best site in your niche.
Again, don’t run after success. Run after excellence and success will follow you.
Here is a list of plugins, tools, and services that Syed Balkhi is using at WPBeginner.
Most Popular Articles on WPBeginner.com
Some Pictures from Syed Balkhi’s Album:
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If you have any question for Syed Balkhi than please feel free to ask your question via comment section below. Syed balkhi Would love to answer your questions here.