Interview With Mohammad M. Ahmedzai, the guy who re-shaped Blogger.
Who is Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai ?
I don’t think there is a single person on the blogosphere who seriously doesn’t know who he is. Before beginning with the interview, I’d like to introduce him from my own viewpoint, because he is extremely down to earth he doen’t really state his worth it’s true due.
He is the guy, who directly and indirectly shaped the person I am today. And It’s a moment of extreme joy and pride for me to be able to Interview my own inspiration.
He is the guy, who is literally keeping the “blogger” platform Alive. I’m sure, 90% of you guys reading this are on WordPress. Why? Blogger is too lame, isn’t it? Well this guy is among the rest 1% who has been with blogger since the first day, and making 7 figures from it.
He Started his blogging career when nobody even knew what a “blog” is, and he defined it for them. So the legend continues..
You don’t need an introduction for sure, but just for the sake of tradition, try to introduce yourself brother.
Thank you Evan for giving this small man a chance to introduce himself and his tiny little online business.
I am popularly known as Mohammad in BlogoSphere. I am a Computer Engineer, Developer and Blogger by profession. Just a month ago I become a father to a baby girl! =)
I had the privilege to found STCNetwork , which offers Web Services and Online Business Solutions to clients around the globe. STCnetwork is currently the Country’s First Registered company of Professional Bloggers which pays Regular Income TAX. The company has introduced several new faces online and continues to motivate teenagers in Schools, colleges and Universities through workshops and seminars.
1. How long have you been blogging? ( Starting from the 1st day of you touching a blogger platform)
I started it as a hobby after a US-VISA disqualification out of frustration back in 2008 after completing my A- Levels. I was a book worm and an extreme nerd but all these qualities shade away when I realized that no matter how much you work hard, corporate world rarely respects your grades but they value only how warm your pockets are. Due to financial crisis, I could not qualify for a US Visa neither did the profit motivated universities in US offered the slightest of scholarship despite having excellent School grades. My class fellows got enrolled in Harvard, Yale, MIT and Oxford, most of them today are either in Microsoft or Google, because they were financially strong.
I thereby decided that I will work hard locally and will develop a skill that would be inshAllah a hundred times better than a job at corporate firm. That dream has finally come true Alhamdulillah. I feel more blessed today than ever. That frustration of not getting a visa transformed me into a professional blogger and entrepreneur today who is being read by over 100,000 readers online.
I first came across blogging when Google decided that they were closing their service of “Google Pages”, I then started searching for a new platform, this was the time when I heard about Blogger.com through a YouTube video.
People in Pakistan rarely knew what a blog was or if one could actually make money online by running a blog. People were mostly focused on Orkut, MySpace just like today most are busy with Facebook. I setup a small blog for my O Level classmates. We would share school memories and discuss daily routine life news. I loved customizing my blog, by playing with basic CSS and HTML. This habit developed the thirst of web designing inside me. I started practicing it for almost 16 hours daily. Whatever I learned I would apply it on my School blog.
Later I setup a blog by the name TNT-BY-STC.blogspot.com which is known today as MyBloggerTricks.com. Here I would share whatever I learned online. I rarely get any visitors during the first one year except some 2-5 visitors a day. A single comment posted on my blog after weeks would mean a heaven for me because that felt so encouraging. I never gave up hope and concentrated on developing my skills by learning advance programming languages and search engine optimization techniques.
My initial mentors were Divya Sai from BloggerStop.net, Amanda From Bloggerbuster.com and Aneesh from BloggerPlugins.org. They were my teachers and will always remain an inspiration. I will never forget their helpful support and their useful tutorials that helped me understand the basic concepts of blogging and SEO. Respecting your mentors is all that matters in life and keeping in touch with them is the honor that you give in return.
There were literally no bloggers in my country, people here rarely knew anything about a blog. Most of the sites were based on entertainment and the youth was mostly interested in social media platforms. If there is anyone I remember blogging actively at that time then it was Rafay Baloch from Rafayhackingarticles.net back in 2010. We are therefore best online buddies since then.
Today all praise be to God, we are running several blogs online on CMS platforms such as Blogger and WordPress.
2. Have you ever failed at blogging? Before starting MBT?
Several times! I have literally cried too when despite working hard for days and nights for several hours but still no visitors, no traffic and thus just $1-$3 a month. What helped me stay motivated was concentrating on learning new skills and sharing it with people without looking at my site stats on daily basis.
The biggest secret behind my blog’s success was that I never tried stealing someone’s copyrights, never tried duplicating someone’s hard earned efforts and never acted as a master to my mentors. Sharing unique and creative content was and is our biggest secret. Every post that we share even today, we research on it for hours, implement new techniques first on our test blogs and then share it online with people. I surely write less because I value quality over quantity.
3. What was the hardest challenge of being a Blogger in your life?
My parents and close friends!
These are people who should be the biggest source of motivation for you but when it comes to blogging which demands both patience and dedication, these people are the first to tell you “Buddy why are you wasting your time in front of that box (PC) when you are earning just pennies!”
I would often debate for hours with my parents trying to convince them that whatever I was doing had fruitful results but sometimes it surely was demotivating when I didn’t find my loved ones on my side. Because all parents care about is “Do nothing, just concentrate on your studies“. Which means work all your life to ultimately become a corporate slaveand I was surely not ready to acknowledge this. Today I give seminars on “BluePrint to PlanB” that discusses the difference between social victims of PlanA and PlanB.
4. What kept you motivated during the hardest times of your B-Career?
Not listening to my loved ones and following only my mentors and successful entrepreneurs online!
OutCome: Once you prove yourself then your loved ones will be more closer to you than today and will respect you even more later.
5. What were the advantages, that you got when you started blogging , that might not be so easy now?
Blogging and its awareness was less back in 2008-2012, so the competition was easy. Today copyright violations, content thefts and profit motivated publishers have saturated the blogosphere. What we publish today gets duplicated and re-published a dozen times the next hour. People rarely focus today on unique content and creativity. They are more interested in short cuts. If you write “My blogger Tricks” in Google, you will find several domains today with that branding. Our Brand names are badly manipulated and so are our posts and content, thus the competition is surely tough today for both newbie and established bloggers.
As far search engines today are concerned, they have become more profit dominated. A search in Google will display the first 3 results often either from Google blogs, YouTube or Wikipedia, you rarely see small publishers and video portal sites ranking in there. Same is the case with Bing and Yahoo. Their products can rarely be over-ranked in SERPS they control. Customer support is also not as effective today as it was previously. We have reported copyright’s violation several times to Google but they often replied to sort out the matters our self! The Google employees rarely spend a minute to match the two contents, their publishing dates and decide which one is the content theft. Most replies from Google are often automated replies by robots. Real replies can only be heard via Google forums. Strange but a bitter Truth!
6. What is the hardest part about being a blogger, that you might still face today? And how do you overcome it?
Content Thieves and regular readers who forget you after excelling the art of blogging. I overcome it by doing my best and letting God do the rest. I continue providing free support and resources and focus only on ethical blogging. I was a student yesterday and I will remain one today and tomorrow. This habit is the only weapon that helps you survive online.
7. How many blogs to you own in total? Are they all the same niche?
A total of 3 but I personally blog only at MBT, other 2 blogs are managed by our employees.
1. MyBloggerTricks.com – Focuses on Blogging, SEO and Web development
2. RichIncomeWays.com – Focuses on Life style and Freelancing
3. Smartearningmethods.com – Focuses on Online earning methods and techniques.
8. Pakistan was not really a “blogger” country when you started, you literally shaped “blogging” in the country, so what were some of the strategies to grow your blog ( In Pakistan ) ?
That is surely a big claim and I am too small for such a huge credit but I would only say that we were among the first promoters of Google blogger in the country. Blogger.com was acquired by Google in 2003 from Pyra Labs(Evan Williams), twitter’s current co-founder. We started promoting it in the country just 5 years later and took it to the next level by exhibiting a more professional aspect of Blogger.
Strategies were simple:
1. Share Quality Content which is E-A-T (Expert , Authoritative and Trustworthy)
2. Don’t copy people, be unique
3. Be Creative in things we share.
4. Properly Optimize Content
5. Keep a close watch on competitors!
9. Do you think you need a group , or community or high profile contacts in the field before you can succeed, or the One man blogger army like you is possible for any body out there?
Social contacts are much better than staying alone. If you have friends or colleagues who are already established online than this surely gives you a marketing edge.
If you don’t have one today, try to find one. I always used to keep a strong relationship with my mentors and blog readers, this gave me the benefit of guest posting, back links and ultimately boost in search results. Indeed when you give respect, you get respect in return.
I avoid joining a Facebook group or some sort of community for traffic because the ROI from these sources is much less compared to the time you invest on gaining organic search traffic.
Focus solely on organic and referral traffic and the least at inorganic because the gains from organic traffic are long lasting while the gains from inorganic are temporary and requires even more efforts.
10. Alexa is a headache for many bloggers, how far do you think is it relevant?
Alexa is a total waste of time! I could never succeed understanding on what logic is this algorithm based after all. We have touched Alexa as low as 5K for MBT when our traffic was low now when our traffic is better we are at 10K.
Alexa rank is surely not based on traffic or people using the Alexa toolbar or its widget, I am 100% sure about it now after having tested this algo for the past 7 years. There are several sites with high traffic have comparatively poor Alexa than those with low traffic. It just makes no sense at all.
If there is any ranking metric that could be trusted for quality ratings then its Google’s PageRank which is however no more updated now.
11. Is it possible to make money from a totally new blog or do you think only old bloggers have that profit?
Of course you can! Blogging is all about choosing the right niche and staying consistent, dedicated and unique. There is no hope for money if shortcuts is all that matters for newbies instead of proper SEO tactics and marketing strategy.
12. What are some of the benefits of being on “blogger” you would like to share?
Now that is an interesting question. Answering this question in few lines will be injustice. I have written a detailed article on why I recommend Blogger over WordPress.
Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs in 1999 as one of the earliest dedicated blog-publishing CMS tools, they were the first to actually invent the term “Blog“. While WordPress was developed as a blogging software in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg (twitter’s co-founder). Blogger is therefore the first school of every pro-blogger.
It lets you easily master the art of web development and SEO without relying on built-in plugins to do the job for you. There is a big room for learning in blogger as compared to framework-powered wordpress where you rely mostly on plugins.
The only con of blogger is that it doesn’t gives you access to your database rest it is a complete blog tool-kit with free webhosting and unlimited freedom of customization.
I use both the platforms and I am making a living successfully Alhamdulillah with both these tools. What matters is how you use the tool and it’s never the tools fault if you fail to operate it correctly.
Four of our clients from India are making around $200-$300 per day on AdSense alone using just blogger.com! STCnetwork is responsible for their SEO, rest it is all their hardwork when it comes to traffic and marketing campaign. They are generating over 50K-100K pageviews per day without using any premium SEO tools or webhosting like WordPress users do use. As I said its all about quality content and E-A-T.
13. For someone who has just started blogging, which platform would you recommend him to choose? Blogger, or WordPress?
After reading my answer to Question#11, which platform would you choose? =) I have not migrated to wordpress for the past 7 years. Blogger provides me with everything I need to do ethical blogging.
Those who exaggerate WordPress over Blogger, actually do not understand that WordPress is not just a blogging platform it is a PHP CMS which can be used to create any website, be it a blog, portfolio or eCommerce site.
They fail to understand this difference. They often compare the PHP CMS with Blogger but never WordPress’s Blogging CMS with Blogger. If you compare the blogging tools alone, you will realize that both the tools are almost the same, what matters is how you use them.
14. As paypal is banned in Pakistan, which are your prime monetization tactics?
Paypal is banned in Pakistan and that is thanks to our incompetent finance ministers. Paypal does want to do business here but due to high commission rates imposed by the Government, Paypal seize to operate here.
I am using Paypal thanks to my sister living in California, USA. I can send and receive payments easily but when it comes to withdrawing the payment, I need my sister’s help to withdraw it and send it via western union.
My Major sources of earning are AdSense, BuySellAds, Direct Ads, Product Reviews, Contexual Ads and Online services.
15. Many people have the concept that Blogging is dead, it’s not easy to be a successful blogger. What would you comment on this?
They think so because their blogging goals are short-termed. A Successful blogging career requires a little hard work but a lot of patience. Slow and steady succeed easily in this field.
You need to give your blog at least 6 months to hatch out and another 6 months to rank in SERPs. During this one year period, your focus should be solely on E-A-T content, developing your skills and less on earning.
Internet is saturated with out-dated and republished content today, no one reads or value that, if you really wish to deliver something online as a blogger, you need to introduce something new or at least present existing niche topic in unique and creative way. This is what we do at MBT.
Evan here: If you are reading this, I’d just like to interrupt for couple seconds, that’s what I always say, if you have the right strategies and tools, you don’t need thousands of hits a day to be financial stable as a blogger. The gurus or “Pretending-to be ” Gurus, will never tell you this. Why? They want you to buy their services, classes and stuff, and thus growing themselves financially while providing no value to you. That’s another reason why I immensely respect this guy, he tries to actually help, and not just pretend.
16. What are the future plans for STC network?
We plan to launch a SEO academy locally inshAllah. What we have been sharing online since years, we will share it with students locally who are still victims of PlanA.
17. If someone is confused about his blog, SEO or any other career related query , what are the best ways to reach you for help?
We provide 24/7 free help and support through our “Blogger Help Forum“. More than 1600 users post their queries daily here and ask for the community’s help related to SEO, Monetization, Blogging and Web development. I can also be reached through my blog’s contact page or Facebook
18. How many posts a day do you think are needed to make an impact on a new blog?
At least one quality post daily or on alternate days at a fixed day time. Value quality over quantity. Never expect huge traffic by posting dozens of poor articles daily. Follow established blogs to understand your niche better and keep yourself updated with latest trends. Your best friend should always be Google, Google keyword Planner and all those blogs that make you a better blogger. Spend less time on Facebook and more on your blog.
19. Newbies are often confused, and in the process waste a lot of money on servers and stuff like that. With your experience, which is the best hosting provider to go for on a new blog.
I am using HostGator for the past 6 years and I recommend it confidently due to the following reasons listed in this post.
20. What is the one SOLIDEST advice you would like to give to the millions of struggling bloggers out there?
Like I always say: Blogging lets you to communicate with a multicultural online world of 2 Billion people, where everyone is eager to find out, what have you got to share.
So respect this opportunity and work hard with sincerity. Blog only to spread knowledge and love. Give more value to quality content, respect copyrights and hate Blogging for money alone.
Blogging is about building relations so remain humble and friendly to everyone especially to your mentors. Ego will take you back where you came from.
Always remain thankful to GOD Almighty for gifting you with the ability to read and write. Everyone of you is a born genius, you just need to recognize your God gifted potentials.
21. What do you think of VebbLabbs?
You have shared some quality SEO blog posts Evan where each article is well researched and in depth. I am really pleased with the consistency of your posts and the word length. Your polite writing tone is a rare and precious quality, maintain it.
Quick 30$ and a long term Contract with me are your takeaways 🙂
I remember, mailing Mohammad 4 years back, when I was 14, A kid. I asked him some of the stupidest, useless possible questions, I still remember one of them being ” Can you help me make money ” ?
Well, at that point of time, I was desperate to make money, everyone wants to be independent right? To the answer of my idiotic question his reply was- Sure Evan, let me know of your Blog URL and I’ll help you out.
And that was the moment, he won the lifelong respect that’s due to him . I mean “WHO”, literally “WHO” or “What kind of” a person who is successful himself, answers such a stupid question of a 14 year old kid, with such sincerity ?
On today’s date, 90% of “BLOG GURUS” are Money makers, and they don’t ever teach you how they do it. You’ll take their classes, courses and stuff, and you’ll still be nowhere. To be honest, there are maybe a maximum of 20 REAL people whose advice you can count upon. And Mohammad is definitely in the list, Why? He writes to really provide value, and not just make money.
So that’s it Folks, this 3000 word + interview with him is surely worth more value then probably any post I’d write containing 30,000+ words. Thanks Mohammad for being with me here today 🙂 And double thanks for this EPIC gift you got for me: