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Interview: How Freshome Dominated A Niche And Made 4M Pageviews Monthly a well-known architecture and design blog gets about 4 million pageviews 30 days, has over 500,000 FB fans, dominates the Technorati list which is an inspiration oasis for articles on Forbes, CNET or Yahoo News.

We interviewed Mihai, founder and blogger of freshome, to ask him about how exactly he got the blog started, the strategies he accustomed to expand the blog’s readership, how he got before competition, plus tips he has to tell new bloggers today.

Warming Up

Can you give us a bit about your background, and what led one to blogging?

I went to The Electronics and Telecommunications College and left it after the first year. I now run, a design-focused blog, which I started during my newbie in college. After a few months the site started to grow and I’ve decided to focus fulltime on it. That was in 2007, when I was 20.

How have you come up with the thought of your blog?

I wanted a fantasy house, so I started looking at different sites for inspiration. I started finding different ideas for furniture and interior planning stuff and I remarked that the guys running those sites were actually doing it as a company. I thought hey, I could undertake it too. So everything started when camping trying to imagine my dream house.

I really didn’t knew the way it should look, so I was wanting to clarify that. The idea was to identify what I wanted to fill it with and just how much that will cost. For example, if I knew that my entire dream house and the stuff inside it would cost $200,000, I could then devise a step-by-step anticipate how to obtain that. I could have my dream house!

You could point out that I planned to construct my own ‘Dream House’ board, but Pinterest didn’t exist back then, so I created freshome instead. At first I thought about just developing a local folder on my small PC wonderful those pictures, but that wouldn’t work because I couldn’t access it from any other place, so that’s why I did it online.

How did the blog fare initially? Was it profitable immediately?

Well, yes. We did make some dough in the very first month. Something like 2 dollars. I know, that’s not too impressive! The second month, we made 50 dollars.

What can you present to us about creating a blog?

Hmm, thing is, the Internet can be so much more useful than a lot of people realize. The information had to create something like freshome or other online business can there be for anyone. You just need to find the appropriate questions. After you find out what those questions are, type them in Google and begin sifting from the information.

Read Also: Creating And Running A Profitable Online Magazine, Part I

Typing ‘the best way to increase my blog’s traffic’ or ‘how you can monetize my blog’ in Google really works! Yes, you’ll find some bogus info, however, if you put enough time in, you’ll find somebody available who is answering your question. It sounds simple since it really is. That’s how I grew.

I first ran a WordPress site, with virtually no optimization. Then I found out more by simply continuously asking the right questions.

Weren’t you fearful of never catching up?

Nope, I don’t think like this. That thought didn’t even occur to me.

What’s your daily routine mobile phone . running the web page?

The site isn’t on auto-pilot. I carry the extra weight for different updates, ad optimization and purchases. I don’t see anyone replacing me yet. There’s no fixed schedule, I couldn’t say just how much I work daily, but I would say it’s higher than a normal 9 to 5 job.

Techniques for growth

How have you get traffic initially?

Most in the initial traffic was via search engines. I quickly implemented analytics and saw that. I also posted on digg and StumbleUpon. Slowly, Google started indexing me. Somebody trying to find ‘blue furniture’ might stumble onto freshome, although I was only onpage 5 or 6 of the search results.

Could you share other techniques you used?

Yeah, I started optimizing my Google Adsense, and introduced it to my interior pages, not just on the homepage. Noticed where the CTR (click-through-rate) was biggest and dedicated to those areas. Changed the ad colors and ad dimensions to improve the overall CTR.

I just kept my eye on what my analytics said. Besides that, I started learning SEO and applying some on-page optimizations for better search visitors to my individual articles.

What do you consider about new bloggers practically copying the ad placement, dimensions and colors from the big player as part of his own niche i.e. emulating the complete site? Since the big player has recently done the specified research or hired some other person to undertake it.

Yes, that’s a bit of a usual practice. Tested ideas tend to work, so that’s one route you might take. But don’t forget to complete your own tests and adjust accordingly after you’ve started emulating someone.

You’re not really a native English speaker. Why not develop a local blog with the same content?

That’s a simple one. I just desired to aim a major international market. There’s no sense in limiting your audience!

Personal Traits

When do you get your ‘aha-I’m-onto-something-big here’ moment?

I was away away for 10 days, about 6 months after starting the site. That was the very first prolonged stretch of time that the website wasn’t updated. When I got back, I saw numerous e-mails from readers, asking me if I’d quit. That’s when I saw real potential.

As for turning it into a company, I guess you could say freshome became not only a one man blog the afternoon I started working together with my current Web Chief Editor, Lavinia Patrascu. She contacted me after like a reader for a long time and talked about if I needed help. That was about 2 years with it.

What did freshome have that got in front of other similar design blogs?

I would say it’s our modern, contemporary style. We only present houses that people love and know are a part of that specific architectural niche. It’s comparable to music or clothes. If you like a particular brand or hear a specific kind of music, you’re usually loyal to that. You don’t easily exchange signal of something else. The architectural and interior planning world is analogous.

Our users love our contemporary, modern style. That’s the way we grew that core, loyal user base. I think that’s also why the web page is a success. Ever since a symptom, I’ve posted only stuff I personally like. I went with my guts. And then other people seemed to such as the same things I liked, in order that they became readers.

Starting a blog today

If you were 20 again, do you start over with this space, today, in the midst in the fierce competition?

Well, I think I would need far more resources than I did in 2007 (when I initially started). For me, I would say, starting then meant I had perfect timing - blogs were gaining authority. If you started a blog in those days, you didn’t worry about mobile versions, tablet versions, profiles on dozens of social networks.

Nowadays, running your site requires you to definitely be present over a large number of sites, having original content, commenting, answering e-mails from readers, running different profiles on social support systems. That’s plenty of work.

You can do it if you have an excellent budget. If you don’t have money to speculate, at least make sure you have a very great team, consisting of people who can help each other.

So to resolve your question, no, I wouldn’t begin again. Today you will find better opportunities, especially inside the mobile world. It wouldn’t be wise for me to invest in blogging today when you have areas where those resources could be put to far better use and enojoy a faster growth. I always try to look for a rising industry.

Let’s say one does start afresh, or else an architectural/home design area, what niche could you write about? And how can you promote the site?

For a unique niche, I’d need to perform some research first. For promoting your website, I’d basically use the same arsenal I’ve used before. Networking can be a big part. I’d attempt to comment, message and e-mail each of the big players during my chosen niche. Those people are those who might help you grow, because they already have the ‘eyeballs’ you will need. Building that inner circle of powerful blogs and publications is crucial.

If the future prospect are looking to my for automated solutions, please be aware I won’t recommend any. Long term, each will fail. Don’t try tricking the search engines like google or your readers. You’ve reached be real. If you want to develop a real brand that is certainly!

Also, concerning the niche… I’d want to point out that, if you’re doing your job right, most niches might be profitable. What matters is reporting relevant news, carrying it out daily, by having an original voice and being patient.

Last Word Of Advice

Any last thoughts? Any advice for our freelancers who would want to start their particular business?

Well, if you’re a freelancer attempting to become an entrepreneur, commence with a ‘transition business’. For example, if you’re a designer, you can actually stop selling your time for money and instead visit, where one can transform your skill in a passive income by creating and selling themes. That’s one example of a ‘transition business’.

All freelancers need to think about transforming their specific skills into a small business. Some freelance home writers might start your site, that might come natural. Some designers might go into product creation or product design and initiate a design agency selling those services. A coder you never know iOS perform with a designer and create a cool app. There isn't magic formula to go to to. You just must make the most out of your own individual skills acquired with your freelancing career.

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