The following article is another Ramped Reviews and Ramped Blogging success story from Chad Ferguson at Learn To Catch Catfish. I really like Chad’s attitude towards blogging and success stories like these is the main motivation for RobbSutton.com. I know you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did.
In 2001 I started a website with absolutely no experience, which primarily involved an online forum. Due to my inexperience when setting it up I became frustrated with the management of it a few years later and made some changes and went to a self hosted forum. Due to my lack of tech skills I hired someone to install PHPbb for me as the primary forum software.
The switch in forums cost me a lot of members and was a huge hit in the website traffic and I learned a valuable lesson about making changes. I also learned some valuable lessons along the way about advertising, as I also used this website to sell a line of products that I manufacture.
After running on the forum with PHPbb for about 6 months somehow I started getting hit by spammers on the forum getting thousands of registrations each day and bombarded with inappropriate content.
I worked with several programmers trying to make changes that would fix the spam problem and we just couldn’t make any headway, so once again I was forced to shut down the forum and change forum providers, which was the kiss of death for keeping members on the website, and most of them left immediately. Again, valuable lessons learned.
I left the website in place because it had good search engine rankings and was valuable in driving traffic to the websites for my other products, but literally went four years without making any changes to the website. I was at a point in my life where I just didn’t have the capacity to deal with it so it sat stagnant.
Through a casual conversation with a friend one day the subject of Google Adsense came up and my friend asked why I wasn’t running any Google Adsense ads on the website, and then the conversation turned to blogging. This brief conversation put my mind in overdrive and I started considering the possibilities of starting a new website.
I spent some time looking through this old website and consider the possibilities and decided that rather than attempt to redesign the old website I would start a blog. Blogging was virtually non-existent back when I started my first website, and something that I honestly had not paid much attention to until about two months ago.
After doing some research I decided that blogging was the way to go, and I purchased the domain www.learntocatchcatfish.com I have a hosting account with HostGator and much to my surprise they had a seamless install of a self hosted WordPress blog.
I installed the WordPress software and came up with a quick logo and downloaded a free WordPress template and started playing around with WordPress. Initially setting up the blog was very frustrating because I was using free WordPress themes. I wasted a lot of time trying to get things to work and with no support because I was using a free theme. In hindsight, I should have just purchased a theme from the very beginning but I was trying to keep the cost to a minimum (I am know looking at purchasing a Woo Themes theme to use until I get to a point when I want to have a custom theme designed).
After getting everything setup and working correctly I started searching on Google for information on blogging and landed upon a number of websites, which is where I found Robb Sutton’s Ramped Blogging e-book, which I immediately downloaded.
I read the entire ramped blogging e-book cover to cover and followed the steps that Robb outlined in the Ramped Blogging e-book, and purchased the Ramped Reviews e-book and read it cover to cover as well, and then started blogging.
The Ramped Blogging book by Robb Sutton was more helpful that any other items I looked at and saved me a ton of time and frustration in setting up my blog, knowing which plugins to use, and exactly how everything needed to be setup. This gave me significant piece of mind since I was so new to WordPress and blogging.
The Ramped Reviews e-book was also very helpful as it gave me some good ideas on how to go about doing product reviews, and how to actually get the product for review. I had tried to do this with my old website and was moderately successful with it but Ramped Reviews gave me some good ideas on what I needed to do differently with this blog both with getting product and with completing the reviews.
I immediately went and added links to all my other websites back to my new blog and it started getting traffic immediately. I also placed a few strategic posts on several online forums that I had been involved with for years, and added the link to my blog in my signature, and started generating some traffic there as well.
To kick things off I offered a free prize for joining my email list and ran 30 day contest for members to win a free fishing rod. This generated some good traffic and 78 comments on the post. This was huge for me as I had not one comment on the blog at that point.
After I had about 30 posts on my new Learn To Catch Catfish blog I contacted a number of outdoor writers by email that I had worked with in the past (they had previously done articles on me for one of my other businesses). Within two days one of these outdoor writers called me and interviewed me about my Learn To Catch Catfish blog, and a few days later there was a half page ad in the Sunday Fort Worth Star Telegram about my blog.
Needless to say, this mainstream media exposure caused the traffic to soar and my members increased by 1000% percent in two days.
During the midst of all this I decided to reach out to two manufacturers and ask them for product for review. Both of these manufacturers had worked with me in the past so I felt it was likely they would send me product, and they both did. I decided at that point to step out on a limb and contact 4 other companies and ask for product for review and much to my surprise all four companies responded and agreed to send product, including a $200 digital camera that I am going to review and then give away on the blog.
My site is not huge, but I have confidence based on current traffic and subscriptions that it is headed in the right direct and is a great project to be working on. I would appreciate any and all feedback from other bloggers so make sure to check it out at www.learntocatchcatfish.com
I now follow Robb Sutton’s posts and articles very closely, and consider everything he writes, and am anxiously awaiting the next e-book or article.
Thank you very much for all you do Robb!
Note from Me: Thanks for the story Chad! You are killing it. Keep it up!