You may be familiar with Pauline Cabrera from her popular blog TwelveSkip. At TwelveSkip Pauline covers a variety of topics related to blogging, online business, and web design. She’s also a very active social media user with over 50,000 combined followers on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
TwelveSkip is one of my favorite blogs because of the helpful and practical content, and because it has a great, unique design that really stands out. I asked Pauline if she would be willing to answer a few questions for Rahul Digital readers and she graciously agreed.
Pauline has a lot of knowledge and experience to share, and not just from her time working on TwelveSkip. When she was just a teenager she had a site for MySpace layouts that attracted around 250,000 visitors per day!
So now let’s move on to the interview and pick Pauline’s brain.
Can you please tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started working online
Everything was a hobby.
It all started with Myspace. I remember I was 15 at the time. The people who had cool layouts fascinated me. I was curious about how they did it, so I started reading tutorials and experimented myself. It got to the point where I became so addicted that I opened another Myspace account just for layout designs.
That account started to grow unexpectedly. I remember it had over 300,000 friends. Then one day, a major Myspace resource site asked me to work for him. He created a website for me where I would upload my Myspace layouts while he placed his ads on my website, then pay me around $300/week. It was crazy! I never thought I could earn online.
A few months later, one of my online buddies told me that if I created my own website, I would earn more. So I went for it.
And there you go. My website became one of the biggest Myspace layout resource sites.
Great things started to happen… and that’s when I discovered a lot of opportunities online.
At TwelveSkip you offer services for design and site maintenance. How do you feel the blog helps you to promote those services, and do you think offering services is a good monetization strategy that more bloggers should pursue
Definitely. The blog helps a lot. I get most of my clients from it.
Honestly, offering services on my blog weren’t really part of the plan. I only wanted to earn off the ads, but I’ve been getting some inquiries and I felt that these could benefit me so I thought, why not?
If you can solve other people’s problems, then go for it. Your blog is where you can show off your skills and prove why they should hire you and thus, market your services. Aim to help people and provide value, then people will support you.
Just make sure that what you offer is relevant to your blog’s niche.
You have a large following at several different social networks. How do you manage to stay active at multiple social networks on top of everything else involved in running your business
I’d say that using automation/auto-scheduling tools helps me to be more productive. They save me several hours a week. I currently use Hootsuite, FriendMe, IFTTT and Viraltag. I also get help from my virtual assistant on some social networks.
Do you have a particular social network that is your favorite right now
I love them all! Well, my most favorite right now would have to be Google+ because a lot of people in my industry are active there and they actually interact with you. It’s where I also curate content the most. Next is Twitter, then Facebook.
What are the main methods/techniques that you use to build traffic for your sites and blogs
I used to rely on SEO a lot until Google Panda and Penguin came. I had to change my technique.
Right now, I try to focus on small niches, and then…
- I create content that my audience cares about in a consistent basis – I don’t want people to forget me!
- I try to optimize every post for the search engines as well. I use SEO tools like SEMRush for finding keywords and Google Analytics to track what’s trending on my site.
- I start promoting them across several social networks.
- I also promote my content on some social sharing sites like Triberr and ViralContentBuzz. Plus, I manage a group on Facebook called “Awesome Bloggers”, it’s a group for bloggers where they can share each other’s content on social media.
- I make every post shareable on social media by creating graphics, and by adding social sharing buttons.
- I try to make time to network every week, either by starting a conversation, leaving comments on other people’s blog, or by simply sharing their content.
So my tips for you: Find your niche. Create strong content consistently to make people come back for more and, of course, make the search engines love you as well. Everyone loves fresh content. And oh, be everywhere!
At your blog you use a lot of unique graphics that really help your content to stand out, especially when shared via social media. Do you have any tips or resources to suggest for other bloggers who may not have your level of experience or skill with design
Start with reading tutorials, play around, experiment, and then buy the right tools. Keep looking for inspiration. Do it consistently until you figure out what looks good and what doesn’t. That’s how I learned.
Pay attention to other people’s graphics; look at the details, the pictures they use, the colors, the spacing, elements, etc.
I currently use Photoshop CS4. I believe you can rent the latest version for around $10 a month. If you’d like to create a quick good-looking graphic, I recommend Canva. For inspirations, use Pinterest, Visual.ly or Google search.
If you have a budget, hire a designer to do it for you. I used to go on Odesk and Fiverr.
For someone who has a limited amount of time to work on their blog, how would you recommend that they allocate their time for writing new posts, using social media, promoting their posts, and networking
Use a planner. Set goals, and organize your schedule. Focus on one thing at a time. Use tools to automate or schedule your social media posts if you can.
One of your successful websites was based on a trendy topic (at the time), MySpace. After that experience how do you feel about pursuing opportunities in industries that have a lot of potential but maybe only for a limited amount of time
After the death of my first website, I was seriously on the verge of giving up! I had no clue of what my next move would be. I told myself, “Wow, everything is gone already?”
In fact, I had to work in a restaurant and at some agency (as a web designer) at the same time.
It was tough. I didn’t like my schedule. I didn’t like the pay. I was literally working around 40-50 hours a week and I wasn’t satisfied. That’s when I realized that working for other people wasn’t what I wanted.
I guess I got used to what I was earning from my first site, and I didn’t want anyone controlling my time (ha!). Plus, it was always my dream to have my own business.
While I was working for other people, I was still building websites but I wasn’t focused. During my spare time, I kept on experimenting, doing research and creating different kind of websites until one of them began to grow. That was when it started to feel like everything was on track again.
So when I started earning money, I built more sites and even hired people to help me. I also got into the blogging scene, and then TwelveSkip was born.
Do you have any plans for the future or upcoming projects that you’d like to share with us
I’m working on two sites that offers WordPress themes for bloggers. One for women, the other one for both genders 🙂 Hopefully I get it done before the end of the year!