Interview With Brian D. Hawkins Of Hot Blog Tips

I’ve known Brian for quite a few years now, and these days I’m part of the weekly Google Hangout series and the weekly newsletters we put out along with Sheryl Loch; we’ll have an interview with her one day as soon as she gets around to it. He’s been in the blogging and online game for a much longer time than almost anyone I know, and is probably one of the most genuine guys I know online. If you ever see the blooper video Scott Craighead created you’ll know what I mean. Enjoy this interview and learn from it as well:

1. What was the inspiration for Hot Blog Tips?

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It was a cool domain name. Seriously, that was the original inspiration. I was collecting domains for some reason and I found HotBlogTips.com was available for registration. I registered it and started a quick blog with the intention to flip it. I sold the blog yet I found it in my lap again a little over a year later. It wasn’t long before Hot Blog Tips became my primary focus and I haven’t looked back since. More on that in question #3 so donโ€™t stop reading.

2. You’ve owned a lot of domains and had content on lots of them. Was there a strategy behind that and is it something you’d ever recommend to anyone else?

Yes and no. The strategy was based in several layers. First, I believed, and still do, that we need several streams of online income. Second, I was playing the AdSense blog game. While I still recommend multiple forms of income, AdSense blogging, at least the way I was going about it, is dead. There is still a lot of money in niche blogging for those willing to learn how to do it right.

Back to the question, was there a strategy behind that; back when I had safe lists, forums and traffic sites, some might call it throwing mud on the walls to see what sticks; others might say it was more like twisting in the wind without focus or direction. With that said, I managed to profit from every one of those. In fact, my partner from eleven years ago still makes a very nice income from those same types of sites today.

3. You mentioned in one of our Hangouts On Air that you gave up blogging at one point but felt compelled to come back to it. Tell us about that.

Sure, when I had several blogs running and began seeing a little income from internet marketing, AdSense blogs and one of my membership sites, I decided to follow the money rather than my passion. I sold a couple of my blogs and focused on generating income. After a year of “work” I found myself spending a lot of time on other blogs wishing I still had my own. I had Hot Blog Tips parked for while by the time Google took a huge bite from my income and I decided to take that as a sign and brought the blog back to life.

4. Why do you think some people get into blogging and only last a month or two while others, like us, can last for years?

I heard a wise man once say because blogging is hard. lol It really is true though, blogging has to get into our blood to make it worth our time and energy. Without the passion, the blog dies a slow death.

The other reason, I think, is that people come into blogging and other forms of online business with unrealistic expectations. They think because it’s online, or they’re doing it from home, that everything will be easy and they won’t have to put in a lot of work. Once they get a taste of late nights trying to drive traffic, creating content, learning SEO and all of the other things required, they go back to barbeques and nightclubs or wherever they spent their time before the notion of online income occurred to them. Just a theory. lol

5. You are one of the most visible people online yet you have a full time job as well. How do you find the time to do it all and does it mean you don’t have any other hobbies?

It’s funny; I just spent the last month on a 30 day challenge just to get enough sleep for a change. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And just this week, I’ve listened to three separate podcasts by Pat Flynn on productivity hoping to get more out of the time I have. So, truthfully, time is something I’m struggling with myself so I’m probably not the best person to ask.

With that said, I do manage to keep the ball rolling and that’s with 12 hour days, five days a week driving a truck locally. I spend most of the time that’s left at home on the computer when I’m not with family. It’s all about making the time to do what we enjoy and I enjoy blogging. I’ve never been one to go to the bars, watch sports with the boys or sit at a friend’s house for hours on end so my “personal” life doesn’t really get in the way of blogging. Outside of family, blogging and social media is my personal life. How sad is that? Lol I have no other hobbies to speak of but I do find time to ride my bike when weather permits and read a little each day.

6. Since I mentioned our weekly Google Hangouts On Air, what made you think about the idea and how surprised were you that Sheryl and I decided to come along for the ride?

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I’m not sure where the idea came from, really. I think I mentioned it to Sheryl, or maybe it was even her idea; I have no idea. lol Surprised? Not really but I’m very surprised how well we work together and how long it’s lasted. It’s taking a while to build that momentum but I think it’s been a fun ride at the same time.

I also think some of the benefits that slowly grow from that type of partnership would be tough for many people to see so I have to give you and Sheryl a lot of credit. I have no doubt that the videos have helped grow our overall online influence. That influence can go a long way, depending if and how we use it. I have an image I created a while back and haven’t used yet but it reads, “Authority + Trust = Influence”. The videos allow people to see what’s behind the blogger and see they can trust us and that we know what we’re talking about [cough] most of the time. With three of us working at the same goal, the word is spread much more quickly than if we go it alone. I know I got a little off topic there but that’s just what I do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

7. You’ve often said you just want to be helpful to people. This is a strange way to ask this question but with all the spam we both get and the few comments our videos get, do you think people appreciate either the videos or the blog posts from most of us?

You know, I really do. We do get comments from others that say a post or video has helped but, for the most part, I think people tend to take the information and run. That doesnโ€™t mean it wasnโ€™t helpful or unappreciated. I’ve been guilty of that myself in the past. Now that I’ve been doing this for so long, I try to comment and let the author/speaker know it helped but I can remember a time when that would have never occurred to me. Even a how-to video on replacing a toilet wax ring or getting my car’s brakes back together, I wouldn’t have left a comment in the past. We search YouTube, find the answer and put it to use. Very few are going to think to hit the like button, much less leave a comment.

8. What is your process for writing blog posts and do you think it’s something that could work for other people?

My process… I need one of those. lol My mind works pretty crazy sometimes. It usually starts with an idea when I have no way to act on it, like driving a tractor trailer down the interstate. That’s generally a bad time to start drafting a blog post. I’ll wait until I get home and start a post draft, often with nothing but the title. That’s my way of not forgetting the post “idea” I had. Later on, I’ll go in and break my thoughts into chunks, add subtitles, find an image and start working on things like keyword research, speling <- (see that) and fact checking or research. I might publish it right away, I might save it until we record a hangout on the topic or it might sit forever if I’m not satisfied with it.

9. Time to bring this question up; do you think, if you decided to dedicate your life to it full time, that you could make a sustainable living at blogging, or being online in general?

Absolutely. If time wasn’t an issue and I could spend my days learning, networking and blogging, I’d make more money than trucking ever will. I still expect that that to happen, just at a slower pace.

So why don’t I do it already, right? That’s a question I ask myself often. I can say it’s a $150,000 mortgage, supporting five people, all of the years I’ve invested with the company I work for, and on and on. What it all boils down to is I’m just chicken. I know I could do it but I also know I’d probably risk losing everything I have by the time I could generate enough to replace my income. At this stage in my life (I’m very old), I’ll just take my time and keep what I have on the way. Like I said, chicken.

10. Let’s see how good your marketing skills are. Tell people why they should be watching our Hangouts On Air every Sunday and why they should be reading your blog.

I’ll do one better than that, I’ll let one of our readers tell you.

Seriously, between the three of us, we have over twenty years of blogging under our belts and none of us are too shy or selfish to offer our advice. We might not be the prettiest people on YouTube but we are entertaining and very informative. There’s truly not that many groups like ours that can say that.

And, of course, thereโ€™s our secret weapon – Sheryl Loch. You’ve said this before, Sheryl teaches some of the most useful things when it comes to video than anyone else we know. I’m just blown away at how up to date and knowledgeable she is when it comes to YouTube and Google Plus.

I’ll conclude with this… I’ve known both you and Sheryl for a long time and I can’t think of anyone else I trust and respect more. I also know my intentions are sincere so, the best reason for anyone to watch is we are trustworthy. We go out of our way to help others, at our expense, because we care. No one has to read in between the lines trying to see our ulterior motive because there isn’t one.
 

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65 comments on “Interview With Brian D. Hawkins Of Hot Blog Tips

  • Hi Mitch,
    Thanks for interviewing Brian. He is one of the nicest guys.
    I was really happy to see him take back the Hot Blog Tips domain and start blogging there again. I admire the way the three of you work together. It’s not easy to be dedicated and committed to a weekly show but you guys do a fantastic job.

    It’s true that you guys should have more comments on the YouTube videos. One reason I don’t comment as much is because I watch on my SmartTV and there is no way to leave a comment on their YouTube app.

    I look forward to watching every Sunday so I’m kind of bummed that there won’t be a show next week. Maybe I’ll go back through the archives to see if I missed any and I’ll watch those instead.

    Have a great day!
    Ileane recently posted…Top Ten Google Chrome Extensions for Watching YouTubeMy Profile

  • Mitch, I do not know how Brian does it with working 12 hour days 5 days per week! I do 8 hour days and it’s hard! I cannot imagine having 4 less hours in a day to do what he does. I do watch some of the videos but do not comment often either. It’s hard to comment everywhere ๐Ÿ™‚ I try not to ever miss a post as they are always informative. Thanks Mitch for sheding more light on Brian. You guys really rock!
    Lisa recently posted…Blog Burnout – How To Get Over It And When Not To TweetMy Profile

  • Brian Hawkins says:

    Hey Mitch, Itโ€™s nice to be featured on Iโ€™m Just Sharing. I think we’ve all grown a lot over the years and sometimes itโ€™s nice to step back and reflect on the path we’ve taken. Things like this interview allow a little of that. Looking back isn’t a bad thing, even with all of the mistakes along the way; it not only allows us to make adjustments, mistakes make for great stories. I have a TON of stories. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Brian Hawkins recently posted…Best Android Photo Apps: Part 1 – Complete Photo Editing ToolsMy Profile

    • I’m glad I was able to corner you for the interview Brian; took long enough. lol I hope some of the questions were different than you’ve gotten before, and it looks like you had fun with it. It’ll be interesting to see what Sheryl comes up with. lol

  • Ryan Biddulph says:

    Great interview with Brian Mitch! I wondered about the domain; it sounds inspirational to me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Nailing it down certainly helped Brian get off on the right foot.

    This takes work. Real work. But if you put in the time, you can become wildly successful through blogging. Create, connect, create, connect.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    • Thanks for stopping by Ryan. I have to admit I never thought as much about the name as he did with his. Well I did, but I couldn’t get the domain I wanted and came back to this one, and it’s served me well. We’ll get Brian telling more stories as time goes by.

  • Hey Mitch,
    It is a great interview taken with this blog expert. When we want to choose blogging as our part time or full time profession, we must get more knowledge about blogging to get successful. So this interview can be very useful for all the bloggers who are always trying to go ahead than others.
    You did a great job !!!
    A lot of thanks to you.
    Adam Hansen recently posted…ืื™ืฉื•ืจื™ ื”ื’ืขื” ืœื—ืชื•ื ื” โ€“ ื—ืชื•ื ื” ื‘ืœื™ ื›ืื‘ื™ ืจืืฉโ€ฆ.My Profile

  • Scott Craighead says:

    Wow, I never knew Brian had all that responsibility with all the kids and stuff. I know that having a full time job and blogging can just murder your energy and willpower quickly. But because it’s a passion of Brian’s I can understand why he does it to such a great length. Brian does have heart to him and you can see he cares about other people. He always brings his sense of humor with him too..which cracks me up. Just reading this article I laughed about 7 times. My advice Brian, your not chicken your just too busy to take a step forward. Life can be such a mess sometimes and all the ties you have just pull you in different directions and there’s not too much your willing to risk. Your just caught in the grind is all. Thanks for the mention and it was nice to learn more about the man behind Hot Blog Tips brianDhawkings – Future Millionaire Blogging Superhero. lol – Scott Craighead
    Scott Craighead recently posted…Hot Blog Tips Addresses Blogging With That Gaming CriticMy Profile

    • Brian Hawkins says:

      Thanks for all that Scott, you’re our biggest supporter. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s how messed up I am… you said “caught in the grind” and I instantly thought, “Wow, that would make a cool blog name”. lol Of course I had to go see if the dot com was available and it is! I have no interest in it but it has a great sound to it.
      Brian Hawkins recently posted…Iโ€™m Going To Giveaway $50 To A Blog CommenterMy Profile

      • Scott Craighead says:

        Oh man, do you really want yet another blog your going to have to take care of and then sell later? lol – Scott Craighead

    • Thanks for your comment, your video, and for laughing at Brian as much as you do Scott. You see how much Brian has meant to you in just the last month; imagine that he’s been doing this same sort of thing for years. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Scott Craighead says:

        Not a problem Mitch. I could not do that live show you guys do. Doing something live is just strange and awkward to me. I’m more of a post production type of guy. Though I haven’t released or kept a video I have made. haha. – Scott Craighead

      • Scott, you could if you did a few of your own first where only you see them. As I usually say, on video you look exactly like you do in real life so just get over it. lol

  • Hey Mitch, it’s so nice to finally get the lowdown on a blogger I have always respected, apart from you and Sheryl that is.

    I know how you feel Brian. That’s why I’ve never chucked it all in to follow a blogging career. That and the thought that if I did turn it into a job it might kill my love for it. That would really be the pits.

    Must join one of your hangouts one of these days.
    Sire recently posted…You Scratch My BackMy Profile

  • Sheryl Loch says:

    This is so hard, I would say something nice about Brian, but then his head would swell and we wouldn’t be able to fit it in the HoA’s!

    I met Brian shortly after he invented the internet. Yes, I have “known” him a very long time. (Not sure if I was suppose to tell people that he invented the internet, but to late now)

    Seriously, if I were ask to list my best friends, Brian would be at the top of the list. Honest, trustworthy, kind hearted and funny are traits that are hard to find in people and Brian is all of those.

    • Scott Craighead says:

      Lol! Thanks for telling me Sheryl. I knew it! He did invent the internet! I always thought that because I remember when I was a child I did a book report on the creator of Netscape Navigator and the guy who made that …really awful browser was named Brian D. Hawkins! Anybody else remember that browser from ages ago? – Scott Craighead

    • Brian Hawkins says:

      It’s true, I did invent the internet but that’s a secret so don’t tell anyone. All this nice talk makes me want to pet a bunny or something.

  • Well I am Thrilled Mitch that You have featured Brian and I can’t wait till we all do a Hangout together with Sheryl. And… Can most certainly agree that Brian is most certainly a straight up down to earth what You see is what You get kind of person and I LOVE that about him. Add that to the fact that he knows his way around blogging makes him a very valuable person to know. Of course You and Sheryl have very valuable tools as well and I think as a Team You guys are awesome. Thanks for a great feature on Brian.

    • Thanks for stopping by Reginald. I always think it’s interesting seeing the background of people because it helps us identify with them, no matter what it is they do.

    • Brian Hawkins says:

      Thanks Reginald, I believe we all have more in common than we realize. The more I get to know almost anyone, the more I begin to relate to them.

    • Brian Hawkins says:

      And we almost had the chance to meet in person a few days ago Wade. I’m going to set-up a coffee shop visit with you the next time I get through Virginia.

  • I’ll be honest – I always enjoy the videos when I do watch them, but I am a fast reader, a fast typist, and video just slows me down. I could forget YouTube is there, 6 out of 7 days, and I’m too chicken to make many videos, myself. (It’s much more fun when you have collaborators, but my son’s outgrown wanting to shoot me in the eye with a Nerf dart for the LOLZ.) And I forget how funny your videos can be till I see something like Scott’s blooper reel and it brings it all back… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And y’all never did get the joke…
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…Sorry, Ruby – My Friends and I Ran Your Friends Off FacebookMy Profile

    • Holly, I know what you mean. I get into moods where I watch a bunch of videos all at once, then I could go a week without watching any. However, I do check in on the ones I’ve subscribed to and since I started traveling so much I’ve been downloading videos and moving them to the Nook, which I enjoy a lot. Glad you like our videos; Brian’s a killer!

  • The thing that resonated the most with me is the ‘chicken’ part. Not a single day goes by when I don’t think how wonderful it would be to be a full time writer.. I know working even a few hours lesser than I do at my job I’d make more money but I’m too chicken too..
    Pankaj recently posted…Bored of Facebook? Try The New MySpaceMy Profile

  • good interview. Since this another world for me (I quilt) this is something I don’t do but it sounded like it could be interesting. It was. I do like how you brought to my mind about how I didn’t leave any comments. A very bad quilt trip, I shall try to do so in the furture..I have only posted twice it is not truely a website. I do want to make it into some kind of quilting informational type site. But learning about different things are good. I do think I will see if I can see something Sherl has done I would like to know about video. I KNOW NOTHING! As Cornal Klink would say… I still read the newsletter I get I find you sometimes hit my interest right on. So thanks. I hope you get your 140 hits. Julie

    • Julie, until people start doing it, most don’t believe it when I tell them that comments drive traffic to one’s blogs and websites. It really is all about community, and someone like Brian telling you… gotta listen to that. I wish you well with your site when it comes up.

    • Brian Hawkins says:

      Thanks Julie, your site seems to be down right now so I’ll look for it again later. I don’t know anything about quilting but I bet there’s a large following for that niche. Learn about keyword research when you get the time, especially long-tail keyword research.

      I’m glad you’re looking into videos. How-to videos are big on YouTube and I’m sure you can teach quilting methods much easier using video.

  • Great interview, you can tell you are passionate about what you do and i’ll have to check out some of your hangouts.

    A point you made that really resonated with me was the one about how people get into blogging/online marketing etc and expect it to be easy. I get so fed up seeing emails like ‘copy and paste method that will make you xxx dollars a day’ – you just know that the only one who’s going to make any money in that transaction is the guy selling the pdf. There ain’t no shortcuts to success, it takes time, dedication, knowledge and passion, but the great thing about that is, if you are one of those prepared to put all that in, then the rewards are there!

    Rome wasn’t built in a day, but what a city it turned out to be! Build your rome brick by brick (or rather post by post) and with patience and hardwork you can create your own online empire!

    Apologies for the waffling… it’s after midnight in scotland and it’s been a long day! Anyway, once again – great interview!
    David McSweeney recently posted…Post Like Clockwork For The Blogging WinMy Profile

    • Brian Hawkins says:

      No, it’s all good stuff David. When I first started, I found myself buying up every “must have” tool and program, believing all of the hype and ending up empty-handed. I think that’s part of why I feel so strongly about helping others and providing real value.

      I have ZERO interest in shooting IM emails to the masses waiting to see how many bite. I tried that and it leaves a dirty feeling that just doesn’t go away when the PayPal balance goes up. I guess it takes a special breed for someone to enjoy that kind of thing.

  • Cool interview Mitch! I’m really glad I found this community you guys have here. I just subscribed to your channel and I look forward to the next hangout you guys have!

    -Eric Out-

    P.S. I’m a sci-fi nerd and I like to think I’m in charge of a Starship LOL! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Eric recently posted…Perspective is the Best Inspiration!My Profile

  • Michael Belk says:

    Hey Mitch that is a very good interview, Brian gives a very true account of his blogging journey.

    It is funny because up to now I now realize everyone is susceptible to burn out in blogging.

    As you may have realized I took a small break from blogging.

    Thanks for the encouragement Brian.
    Michael Belk recently posted…Do you click on micro adverts and why or why not?My Profile

    • I figured you had Michael, and I did notice you’d gone missing. I hope you’re back now. Brian’s journey is proof that sometimes you just can’t get away from something you really care about, even if it irks you for a while.

  • Brian,

    Loved the interview. You are very inspiring! Having a full time job and cranking it out online with a successful blog and google hangouts is impressive.

    I love the part in the interview where you say that Blogging is Hard! So true! Running a blog ain’t no joke! Writing and promoting content, moderating and answering comments, updating WP, themes and plugins, maintaining proper security, and then writing more good content gets OLD really fast UNLESS you love blogging and the topic you are blogging about!

    I look forward to one of your google hangouts sometime soon!

    Now I need to click around and find out where to sign up for one!

    Thanks,

    Jupiter Jim
    Jupiter Jim recently posted…WordPress 3.6 is Here — Features and Installation Video.My Profile

    • Actually Jim, Sheryl and I said that blogging was hard in the video; Brian had to come around to it. lol It can be really involved. When you see Brian’s interview here, you know it’s really a labor of love.

  • Gilbert Samuel says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Great interview, I’ve known Brian for some time and I’ve really learnt a lot from him (especially his niche site story and how he got up to 100 domain name ๐Ÿ™‚ ) his blog tips are really hot and he deserves the accolade for that. Thumbs up Brian,
    Have a wonderful week.

    • Hi Gilbert; welcome. Brian is a character and yet you’re right, he’s been giving blogging tips for lots of years, and he both has fun with it and takes it serious as well. It was my hope to ask some questions he’d never had in other interviews he’s done; I think I accomplished that and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope you’re watching some of our Hangouts as well.

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