The Story of Anil Agarwal & his “Blogging as a Career” Journey

The Story of Anil Agarwal & his “Blogging as a Career” Journey

This is the fifth interview of our SEO Expert Roundup Series where we publish interesting life experiences of top SEO experts.

Whether you are a freelancer, a blogger or an agency, all we want is your passion for SEO and we will do the rest of the work to bring your story to life.

Today, we are publishing an interview of Anil Agarwal from BloggersPassion.

Anil is one of the top bloggers in India and he writes extensively on topics around traffic building, SEO and affiliate income generation. 

In 2019, his blog received a traffic of 1mn+ visitors, with 80% coming through organic search.

Let’s hear out Anil and learn from his experiences.


Q. Hey Anil. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

A. My name is Anil Agarwal and I am a full time blogger. While I have a couple of blogs under my belt, my flagship property is BloggersPassion that I started in the year 2010.


Q. Cool…Why don’t you tell our readers more about BloggersPassion?

A. Sure Tushar. On BloggersPassion, we write on topics related to blogging, SEO, affiliate marketing and web hosting.

In 2019, we got more than 1.3M views out of which ~80% views come from organic searches.

Our revenue in 2019 was $125,000, with the majority contribution coming from sales of affiliate products.

BloggersPassion website screenshot


Q. Most of the blogger stories I read revolve around their passion for blogging. However, I read yours where it started as a need to supplement your family income. That’s quite a deviation from the popular belief. 

A. The motive behind getting into blogging was to create an additional income source as I was not happy with the salary I was getting in my full time job. 

But I had never imagined this level of success when I started blogging. Thanks to my success, I am now a full time blogger.


Q. That’s interesting Anil. What’s your blogging journey like?

A. My blogging journey started long back when I used to create free blogs on blogger.com. I kept on working on those blogs for a couple of years and happened to sell one of the blogs for $35,000 via Flippa (that was in year 2009).

In between this period, I also created a couple of more blogs around finance and healthcare niche, but unfortunately all of them failed. 

In January 2010, I started working on BloggersPassion. For the first five years, I managed everything on the blog, right from content planning to content creation to technology to partnerships, and so on. 

Since 2015, I have been outsourcing parts of the content.  At present, I have a team to take care of content, design and web development. 

Today, I am proud to say that BloggersPassion is no longer just a blog but a full fledged profit generating business for me.


Q. What’s the split of your organic traffic (as a percentage of total traffic)? Any traffic milestones you can offer our readers (e.g. time it took to reach 1000 user/month, 10k/month, 100k/month)?

A. Tushar, If I look at the last one year of traffic data; 82% traffic comes from organic search, 11% direct and rest comes from referral and social channels.

The blog first breached the 1000+ monthly sessions mark in July 2011. 

It took me just 9 months (April 2012) to 10X my traffic to 10,000+ monthly sessions.

However, the real effort was in getting the next wave of growth. I breached the 100,000+ monthly session mark in May 2019.

TIP: It takes time (and lots of hard work) to build success. 


Q. Since organic search is your major traffic contribution, what’s your one liner definition of SEO (the way you see it as)?

A. SEO is all about optimizing your website pages for your target terms without hampering the user experience; and then spreading a word about those pages.


Q. What’s that one single SEO tactic which you think is utterly overrated?

A. I feel keyword density is one thing which is highly overrated. I see lots of SEO experts thinking about keyword density the same way how it was a couple of years back.

Nowadays, it’s just about using your target term a couple of times in your content, that too naturally.


Q. Is there any one single SEO tactic which you think is utterly underrated (but worked well for you)?

A. I think it’s the use of LSI keywords. Most people don’t know how to find LSI keywords and how to use them effectively in their content.

When we use LSI keywords in our content, we not only increase our chances of ranking for those LSI terms, but our chances of doing well for the core terms also increase.


Q. I noticed you have started giving an increased push to your content on Quora and YouTube. Where do you see these channels in the light of your overall SEO efforts?

A. There are few motives behind this action:

  • Spread a word about our brand and content on most popular platforms. 
  • Drive high quality traffic from these two channels to our blog.
  • Lower down our dependency on Google search traffic to some extent.

Anil Agarwal on Quora


Q. What are the 3 most critical SEO mistakes that you made as part of building BloggersPassion?

A. Sharing the three critical seo mistakes we made with BloggersPassion:

1. When we started BloggersPassion, we remained hosted with an average web host for many years. Obviously, the intention was to save money.

As we moved to better hosting, our website speed improved. That helped us with more search traffic, better engagement metrics and more sales. So my advice is to invest in the right web host right from the start.

2. I have been running BloggersPassion since 2010, that’s a long time. In all these years, I happen to create multiple content pieces targeting the same set of keywords. This resulted in keyword cannibalization for a lot of blog posts.

To get rid of this problem, we had to merge, redirect and delete a few of our content assets which resulted in significant effort investment.

When you are new to blogging and still finding your ground, it’s obvious to make this mistake.

My suggestion to new bloggers is to invest time in learning SEO & keyword research so that you can cut short this trial period. Even a basic knowledge on keywords will save you from cannibalizing your content.

3. For the first few years, we allowed Google bots to index less important pages as well. But we are taking all of these things very seriously now. Google bots should have access to the original pages only. No extra or thin content pages should go into the Google index.


Q. A major chunk of our reader base includes early stage businesses who are confused on how to get started with SEO (with all their meagre resources- be it money or experience)? Any suggestions/tips for them?

A. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way out.

You need to learn SEO basics and start implementing them. Contrary to their fears, SEO is 20% technical and 80% user experience.

There are a couple of blogs and YouTube channels (including that of BloggersPassion) where they can learn basic as well as advanced SEO techniques.

If you ask me, I’m a big fan of Brian Dean’s content at BackLinko.com. You can learn a lot from his videos on YouTube as well.

The key to getting SEO success is execution. No one can become good at SEO till they implement what they have learnt.


Q. Most of the bloggers I know start a marketing agency once they hit blogging success. Do you have a similar plan? If yes, when are you starting. If no, why?

A. We recently set up our digital marketing agency named TAAM Digital. Hopefully we will get time to work on it this year. With TAAM Digital, we are aiming to serve selected high paying clients who can afford premier services.


Q. If you were to start BloggersPassion all again (with no money and resources), what are the 3 things you would do differently now? (not just about SEO but overall)

A. It’s very difficult to get success with any website or blog without money or resources these days. You cannot do everything from your end. If you do, things will move really slow.

Sharing a few things that I would do If I have to start BloggersPassion from scratch:

  • First year, I will mostly focus on educational content. Will try to build some traffic for easy to rank terms.
  • I will focus on one core topic rather than spreading myself thin. That would be just SEO or affiliate marketing. 
  • Will focus more on video content from day 1. Traffic that we get from YouTube is really high quality.

Q. Any suggestions/tips for beginner bloggers on things that should matter in their early days? And things that are vanity metrics and should be avoided?

A. Stay motivated and don’t give up. Enjoy every small small success that you get as part of your blogging effort.

Try to do at least one thing a day that has the potential to take your blog to the next level. That could be writing a guest post, a comment or new content for your own blog. 

Don’t think much about numbers in the beginning of your blogging journey. It’s going to take some time before you will see the needle moving, so keep putting in the effort.


My 3 key takeaways from Anil’s interview

– Keep making the effort. There’s no substitute to action.

– Focus on building organic traffic channels. That can be search or social media.

– Blogging can make you some serious money. But you need to learn the rules of the game.

 

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