My Favorite and Most Successful Blog Adventure

I’ve been blogging for a few years with moderate success. Much of my success has been because top bloggers like John Chow have been willing to share the lessons they have learned along the way. Now that I am approaching a place where I earn as much from my blogs as I do from my day job, I feel that it is important to share one of my favorite (and most successful) blog adventures.

In 2009 I moved from Hawaii to Morocco. Being a blogger, one of the first things I did was look at who was blogging and what they were blogging about in my new country. Morocco has a large expat community and I was surprised at the number of great blogs I found here. In addition, I found that a lot of Moroccans blog in English too. This is really not all that surprising given the facts that English is the unofficial language of the Internet and that Moroccans have a remarkable aptitude for both languages and technology.

The thing that I didn’t find was an up to date directory of all the blogs in Morocco. I found directories that covered French blogs, directories that covered Arabic blogs, and outdated blogrolls but I didn’t find anything in English that reviewed all these great blogs or differentiated them based on categories.

In November of 2009, I was conducting workshops for tourism businesses that wanted to use blogs to promote their businesses and I wanted to demonstrate how to build a blog from the ground up, so the natural choice for me was MoroccoBlogs.com, a site that reviewed, categorized, and promoted the many English language blogs in this North African country.

During the workshops, I demonstrated many of the lessons I have learned from Gurus like John, that’s not what this article is about, but for those who want a bulleted list for quick reference these were things such as:

  • Be a part of the blogging community
  • Make your blog easy to navigate
  • Pick your keywords carefully
  • Plan your blog out before you start it
  • Utilize social media
  • Write compelling blog posts
  • Utilize great widgets and plugins
  • Give your prospective readers something they want

It’s this last one that has taken MoroccoBlogs.com from an unknown website to the most visible blog in North Africa.

Since I was already categorizing and reviewing Morocco blogs, I decided to take things to the next level by using my blog as the base of the Best of Morocco Blog awards. In January, I launched the contest and my traffic went from 15-40 visits a day to 300-500 per day in a matter of days. Here is how I did it.

Step 1: I kept careful note of what blogs people were talking about both in person and in the blogosphere. I made sure to review each notable blog and notify them of the fact that their blogs had been reviewed on my site.

Step 2: I designed a rough “Nominated” logo and then I visited a webmaster forum where I ran a contest for $10 for who could create the best graphic from my rough design. Within 24 hours, I had several beautiful designs to choose from.

Step 3: I brainstormed categories for the contest based on the blogs which were available. Given the large diversity of Morocco blogs, I chose “Best Overall” “Best Personal Blog” “Best News Blog” “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Cultural Blog”. I also decided to call the contest the Best of Morocco Blogs since the name incorporated the name of my blog and had a catchy abbreviation “The BOMBies”. I further brainstormed a catch phrase “Is your blog the bomb?”

Step 4: I had the winner of my design contest create individual winner badges, nomination badges, and sponsor badges. Keep in mind these graphics would have cost me hundreds of dollars if I had simply hired a graphic designer. Instead, through a contest, the total cost was $10.

Step 5: I installed the WordPress Polls plugin on my blog and set up the individual polls with the most talked about blogs as the nominees.

Step 6: I commented and emailed the nominees with the “Nominated” badge. I also left the nomination process open for a week so that any blogs I had missed could be included in the contest.

Step 7: I activated the polls and held my breath to see if anyone would accept the validity of a new blog determining who had the best blogs in Morocco.

Of course they did.

As bloggers, we all enjoy being recognized and I think that there is something innately competitive about bloggers as a category of human beings. We all seek recognition, praise, and….traffic. Within a day, the top Morocco blogs had all put my badges in prominent positions on their sites. Not only that, but they were also encouraging their readers to leave their blogs and to visit mine!

This isn’t a win-lose situation though. I’ve been told by nearly all of the nominees that their traffic has increased dramatically since the start of the contest. In two cases, bloggers that were nominated had decided to stop blogging, but when they found out they were nominated (and recognized) as great blogs, they decided to keep going!

I wasn’t done though.

Step 8: I wanted to offer great prizes to the winners. Sure, it’s nice to have a winner badge, but I wanted them to have more, so I started looking for sponsors for the Bombies. I decided to look for companies and businesses that wanted exposure. The great thing about a blogging contest is that the sponsors get exposure as sponsors and then, ideally, they also get exposure on the winning blogs too! This is another win-win! You don’t get much better press than having the top bloggers in a country writing about your product or service.

The winning bloggers will get a range of prizes including wine tours, weekend getaways, and exotic Moroccan cooking lessons. The sponsors are getting great exposure. All participants, sponsors, and reviewed blogs are getting more traffic. Readers are getting introduced to new and exciting blogs they hadn’t seen before. I’m getting more traffic, a more exciting contest, and increased prestige as an authority blogger. That’s a win-win-win-win-win! It doesn’t get any better.

Step 9: The contest ends February 21, 2010. Come check it out! If you have a favorite be sure to vote!

Step 10: The next step is to hold Morocco’s first ever Blog Camp. It will be a chance for bloggers to meet up, have workshops and discussions, explore beautiful Fez, Morocco (the largest car free urban area in the world and oldest inhabited Medieval city), and hopefully, we can even get John Chow to come and eat couscous with us!

Vago Damitio is a blogger, writer, traveler, and teacher. He lives in Sefrou, Morocco though his other hometowns are Bellingham, Washington and Kailua, Hawaii. You can follow his personal adventures at Vagobond.com.


42 thoughts on “My Favorite and Most Successful Blog Adventure”

  1. Azam says:

    Very inspiring…

    1. Would love to read this on this weekend.

      1. Yeah its little longer, will read on sunday

        1. Diabetis says:

          Frop John Chow the articles are always longer.

      2. Diabetis says:

        Why wait for the weekend when it is already weekend?

    2. Yup, really an inspiring article and best serve in weekend. 😀

  2. picxx says:

    Great post.
    Allways look for local opportunties.

    1. Yes, many bloggers overlook local opportunities since they want the opportunities of the world. However local can prove to be just as fruitful.

      1. CNA training says:

        Depends upon one’s ability to compete. I think what we need to is focus on an area that matches our level of expertise and amount of time that we are willing to commit to the blog.

        Picking up an area that is too competitive for us leads to complete failure while picking up something that is too small results in frustration.

  3. Kim says:

    I am still in awe of your accessibility John Chow.
    I enjoyed this step by step article to success — there are many paths to a desired result. This gets ideas flowing 🙂
    Cheers!

    1. This wasn’t a John Chow article, it’s from Vago Damitio.

  4. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Diabetis says:

    That is inspiring. Makes me motivated to pursue my dream even more.

  6. Let me save this I am sure this will be really a good read on this weekend.

  7. S Ahsan says:

    I like the idea of holding a blog camp in your local.. now thats a good idea. *click* i have to think about that soon 🙂

  8. Annie says:

    I think that is really creative, I don’t think I would have ever thought about something like that, but it inspires me to try out new things!!

  9. Melvin says:

    I find some of the ideas really unique. Good luck dude.

    anyways im planning to submit a guest post here but I forgot the email address to submit my guest posts.. how do I submit a guest post again?

  10. fas says:

    YOu know you have shown time and patience can win the war.

  11. The Idea of BOMBies Clicked =, it was well planned and beautifully executed.

  12. A great blog post, very inspiring as well. It shows how something so simple can really help.

  13. thanks you nıce web

  14. CNA training says:

    That is really interesting and inspiring. The great thing about the idea is that it can be copied for each country and any niche. I should do a similar analysis for my website as well.

    Thanks for sharing

  15. I have always loved your posts John Chow. Now you have given us something really useful and a very inspiring story. Thanks a lot.

    1. This is actually a guest post from Vago Damitio.. check his site out, good info there

  16. PPC Icon says:

    Thats a great idea, not often you see a guest post this good

  17. great strategist…good job

  18. Mangalary says:

    That was such an inspiring work. Nice tips from our John Chow, ei! I like your site…I used to have that 3-column theme but decided to rearranged my site for SEO purpose…it worked for me.

    1. This article is from Vago Damitio.. lol, you’re the 3rd person so far that thinks this is a John Chow article

  19. Chris says:

    An interesting stragegy. Nice work

  20. Everyone blogs, even in Morocco.

  21. Hawaii to Morocco…..quite a shift! Thanks for sharing your journey in blogging.

  22. SEO Tools says:

    these 10 steps are best for new bies

  23. Lots of great ideas, here. I’ll have to try a few of them on my blog. Thanks.

  24. Forgot to make step 8 as bold … lolzz

  25. CNA training says:

    I can not see any link for posting a guest blog on johnchow.com. I will like to try my luck at getting a guest post published on this blog. Any idea how to do it?

  26. chester says:

    Wow, now that is one great informative post. Well written, inspiring and concise. Congrats and great job.

  27. It is blogs such as these that really provide the knowledge and skills that newbies need to be searching out. Unfortunately the majority end up clicking on some “Get Rich Quick” scheme and end up misguided and having a bad feeling toward blogging.

    Keep up the good work John!

  28. Alex says:

    This was a great post. Very informative. Teaches newbie bloggers like myself a whole lot!

  29. Giving out all those lavish prizes sure does get expensive.

    Hope he finds out a good way to monetize his idea 🙂

  30. Amazing the way you explained the steps. So Feb 21st just passed uh… he must be eating couscous now. Great Job!

  31. Expat Blog says:

    Vago,

    great story in finding a niche on a shoe string budget to stoke peoples interest to be a part of your community.

    We run a global expat blog and are working on some Expat country specific awards as well. The expat community is a well connected community globally that is a great asset to build your niche online.

    It you’d be great if you wanted to do a guest post!

    Follow us at @ExpatBlog

  32. KS Chen says:

    As a new blogger, i really get motivated after reading this article. I got some new ideas on how to continue my blogging journey in future. Thanks a lot!

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