We are seeing a tremendous shift in web designing and development.
With the involvement of php5, CSS3 and HTML5 things have become pretty easier. Now we can create very complex design and awe our readers.
As BCIS is moving forward, I am going to interview people from various categories now.
Today we have a person with us who was lucky enough to find his hidden passion and took proper steps to convert it into a giant business.
His blog 1stWebDesigner has become one of those biggest names which is delivering the best to make web developers and designer's life much better.
Dainis started this blog when he was 19. With his passion, knowledge and commitment Dainis worked hard on this blog and started writing tutorials to help the world. In just 6 years, this blog has become a giant blog which is attracting thousands of visitors daily and making their life better.
On 1stWebDesigner you can learn how to become a freelance web designer/developer through their library of articles, eBooks and video guides.
let's read the interview.
1. Dainis, I am very happy to have you on my blog. Please tell us about you and the story behind 1stWebDesigner.
Hey Kulwant, pleasure is all mine, honored to be featured on BloggingCage! To tell the whole story behind 1WD would take a book, but let me tell you how about the first year of 1WD, which was the most important one.
It all started 6 years ago in 2008. By then I was 19 and didn't know much about online life, I didn't know what MySpace was. I was freelancing by that time and studying in design academy, when I got job offer to create MySpace layouts for one entrepreneurial guy.
Work relationships went well and I found out that he actually owns social media blog himself and he is earning promising monthly income with it! That was all I needed to hear, before that I had no idea that you can make living online..but then, I thought – if he can do it, surely I can do it as well!
And so I found Yaro Starak free audiobook Blog Profits Blueprint, over next 6 months I think I listened to it like 100 times, while I was blogging and marketing 1WD. I picked web design niche, because I wanted to learn more about it and I learned a lot while researching and crafting articles!
I hoped that someday maybe I'll make some money out of it, but I was much more passionate than I was worried about making money. I think that was the key for success. I didn't start a blog to make money, passion came first.
First year of blogging I was basically working on site 18 hours a day, slept like 6 hours because I couldn't sleep more, I was so excited. Obviously my performance on academy declined, but I didn't care. Also it was all possible, because by that time I was still living with my father so I didn't need to worry about whether I will have shelter or I will starve. It was tough, amazing year of hard work. I miss it.
2. What finally prompted you to start a blog? How did you find that hidden entrepreneur within you and what obstacles did you face when you started?
What prompted me was my entrepreneurial boss friend with social media blog. Internet lifestyle seemed amazing and I was waiting for opportunity to prove myself.
To be honest I haven't been really entrepreneurial in my life. Also when I started 1WD it didn't feel like it was about starting business. It just naturally evolved to business over years and I discovered entrepreneur in me.
There were no serious obstacles, as I said, I didn't need to worry about surviving. Only challenge was when most people in design academy I studied in were saying how I am wasting my time with 1WD and that I will never make money with it. That didn't get it and actually this misbelief urged me to work even harder to show all the naysayers 🙂
3. Which are your most favorite topics on your blog?
This has been changed over years. In past I was deeply enjoying all the design news topics, discovering new tools, plugins, themes. I really loved to make inspirational website showcase articles, because it showed how beautiful web sites can be.
Right now, I am much more passionate about business side, productivity and mindset. My latest passion is internet marketing. As natural introvert and detail oriented person, I love to test, analyze and succeed. As we are refocusing 1WD to be aimed more to helping freelance web designers, I enjoy learning more myself about business skills, how to deal with difficult clients, how to close the deal, how to be productive working from home.
4. You have good team for your blog. How did you find such awesome like-minded people and how are you managing them?
Ah, I wish there would be simple answer to this question. Many key team members have been with us 2-4 years. Over years I think I have hired and fired few hundred people, few precious people stay. In the end actually is not about me finding these people, the best people usually find me.
About management.. Since we are growing and right now there are almost 20 people in the team, I cannot work with everybody one on one. So we have established leadership team, which consists of 5 people. I primarily work with leadership team and let them to lead and delegate tasks to their team. There are loads of trial and error, we didn't do too well, when whole team was scattered worldwide.
But since last year I moved to Philippines, opened office here, we all got a chance to meet and spend quality time to get to know each other. And meeting physically has made all the difference!
5. How much attention you are paying for your blog’s SEO? and what efforts are you making to make it more SEO friendly?
To be honest we haven't been too well with SEO over past years. I spend loads of time in link building and engagement in early years of 1WD, but in past years I hoped that we don't need to do so proactive marketing anymore and we can instead can focus on crafting higher quality articles.
That didnt work well and Google has been dropping our traffic over time. However these wakeup calls have really made us active on SEO efforts right now. If one month ago, we had just one guy working on Facebook and Twitter, now I am getting involved myself and we started separate marketing department, who focuses on lead generation and marketing our content.
In its core SEO is super simple – write high quality content, get high quality incoming links and engagement. And well.. that's it. So we focus on improving our content, fixing past article broken links and getting out to be seen online!
6. Apart from monetizing with AdSense what are the other methods you using to make money with your blog?
When I started 1WD, there was no magnetization strategy. I just added Adsense and BuySellAds (banner sales) on site and since I was very good on generating massive traffic, advertising made good money.
But I really don't like relying on ad income, it's really hard to sustain it and you are always dependent on traffic. That's why right now we are developing our own products, which we know our readership wants and we are moving more and more away from ads. My dream is to have zero ads on 1WD by end of the year.
The best magnetization technique in my opinion is product creation. You can do it two ways – either you promote affiliate products (you trust and you use) or you create your own product! For all new blog owners I would recommend to stay focused to their niche, test different affiliate promotions on site and then once you see what is working, invest your resources into creating your own product!
Extra tip: If you do have advertising on your site, check out what products others advertise! There is strong chance that you can find similar affiliate product or create your own! Pays much better than ad revenue!
Hope that helps!
7. When you started there were already many big blogs like Abduzeedo.com, HongKiat.com and VandelayDesign.com. What motivated you to start your journey and helped you to stand out of the crowd?
In 2008 when I started, I thought I have already missed the big wave of dream blogging. I mean I thought yes – I am too late, because there are so many design sites already. I guess my lack of experience helped, I thought everything is possible and just did it. If I would start over again, I would be much more hesitant to do it again! 🙂
I cannot say there was anything magical about me, that helped make me and 1WD so unique. I just always focused on creating the best article I could. I would obsess about details, I would make sure there would be no better article written on the same topic. That and loads of time invested into marketing made 1WD success.
8. What are your favorite books and motivational videos?
Oh, don't get started on this! 🙂 I am huge book addict!
Lately the most favorite books have been biographies of successful business people – like Steve Jobs autobiography, Amazon story – Everything Store, Tony Hsieh – Delivering Happiness, Google story.
I love these books so much because they show these super successful business people in real life. And when you see how they think and what they do, you start to understand they are just human as you are. These stories inspire me to think big.
Other than that, my bible for growing business for long time has been Jim Collins – Good to Great.
As for motivational videos, whenever I feel down or struggling I head to Mateusz M youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/TheMiro0r and get pumped up! 🙂
9. What is your daily routine and what do you to become more productive?
My daily routine right now is waking up 5.00, eating breakfast, heading to gym. At 8.00 I am back and ready to work. Usually in mornings I schedule meetings and calls. I make sure I am done with interactions latest by 15.00. At 15.00 I try to get a nap whenever possible, to gain new energy boost. Rest of the day goes into doing key tasks only I can do.
In order to be more productive I tend to simplify my life. Whenever possible I will chunk the calls to be in sequence. Once I see opportunity I create routines. One could say it's a boring way to live a life, but if you remember Steve Jobs was wearing same jeans, sweater and sneakers for decade. Why? Because he simplifies his life to be able to give his full attention and energy on things that really matter! I try to do the same.
10. 1stWebDesigner is covering a wide range of tutorials. How are you getting such innovative ideas to write them?
We do two things:
1. We research trendy topics, we follow what other blogs in our industry are writing about. We check how their audience reacts to different articles. Sometimes you can find excellent article idea in comment box.
2. Writers come up with ideas themselves! I don't know where they find these ideas, but there is constant flow of new article ideas from our writers! It just happens!
11. If you were given $200 to start from scratch today, where would you spend them wisely?
I would get 5$/month hosting and nice premium WordPress theme (35-40$). I would invest the rest of money to get domain name and hosting for as many months ahead as possible.
That's actually exactly how I started 1WD. Only then I started with free custom WordPress theme. I don't like spending money on things. I rely on creative, free techniques. That's the beauty of the Internet. You can do everything yourself, you can learn about everything for free. If you have more money to spend, growth just happen faster.
12. You message for people who are still struggling to find their hidden skills.
I would love to tell something super inspiring for people to find their success and purpose. But there is no other way – than by looking. If you'll keep looking, learning more about yourself, you'll find what you love to do, what comes easy and doesn't feel like work.
My key to success has always been passion and ambition. I started just with passion. Find what you love to do, what comes easy and then figure out how to make money with it.
Best of luck!