By @SimonCocking

Great interview with Ian Cleary @IanCleary , an Irish social media strategist doing really well at a global level. You can also catch him speaking at Jason Roe’s Growth Hacking Traction event June 11th as well.

Your background?

I run one of the world leading marketing technology blogs specializing in social media tools.  The blog was listed as one of the top 10 social media blogs in a competition run by Social Media Examiner in the US in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2014 I was listed as one of the top 40 digital strategists in the US. Also a featured writer on Entrepreneur.com, VentureBeat and Huffington Post. I work from an office in my home town of Rush.

How do you make money from your blog?

This comes from different places:

Online training – We provide a range of online social media training courses to website visitors, email subscribers and our following on social media.

Affiliate revenue – We have relationships with many tool providers we talk about on our blog.  If you read about the tool on our site and end up buying it we get paid!

Advertising – We advertise in our email newsletters.

Speaking – I speak at international events and get paid for it (just back from Poland)

Referrals – We don’t do any consultancy work but get lots of requests. We refer any consultancy and get revenue.

Tools Directory – We have a social media tools directory and charge an annual subscription to get a premium listing.

How was 2014, what went well?

2014 was a great year.  We generated over 1,000,000 visitors to our blog, won in the annual Social Media Examiner blog awards in the US, I spoke at the top Social Media conferences and figured out how to make money from our blog!

Anything you’d do differently?

Towards the end of 2014 and early 2015 we got a lot better at making money from the blog.  With the experience behind me we would have implemented these tactics at the very start of the year!

Plans for 2015 and the future?

We are building out products to help companies generate more sales online through content.  We are also considering building a technology product.  We have a large global audience and need to take advantage of this!  We want to build a product to help with online sales and are currently looking for a partner!

What’s your background, what led you into what you are now doing?

I worked in the software industry for many years and got bored doing the same thing.  I left and dabbled in many ventures and ended up doing training in social media in Ireland.  With skills in social media it made sense to try and build an international audience so we launched the blog in 2012

What do you enjoy about how you currently work and the type of work you do?

The best thing is that I can work wherever there is an internet connection.  I am currently building a home office at the end of the garden but I can work in any part of the world at any time.

My work is challenging and digital marketing is always changing so I never get bored with it.  I get bored easily so I always need something challenging and stimulating!

You have a great following in twitter, is this part of how you do business (guessing yes) – how has it helped you?

My whole business is based around social media so I have built up a good following across many channels.  A social media following helps build relationship and also drives traffic back to our website.  When we get website visitors we get affiliate sales and email subscribers.  When we get email subscribers we make sales!

How much time does it take to stay on top of your social media digital footprint? Where else are you active as well as twitter?

I spend at least 2 hours a day interacting on social media and creating content but my whole business is about social media so I spend more time than most people. I have a good presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn,Pinterest and currently starting to work on Periscope.

Blogging, who do you follow / like what they do; Neil Patel, Blog Tyrant, Ted Rubin, none of the above or others?

I follow Neil Patel for blogging and Ted for understanding more about social media relationship building (p.s Ted is a good friend!)

I also follow Syed Balkhi (wpbeginner.com) and Brian Deane (backlinko).  Both are great friends and super smart bloggers.

Top tips to companies trying to do well on social media?

The most important thing is to focus on building relationships and adding value to the conversation.  Sales generally don’t happen through social media but it’s a pathway to get sales.  Be a good citizen on social media and you’ll build amazing relationships and drive lots of traffic to your website where you can focus on conversion.

You need to understand your content sales funnel.  How do you get from writing a piece of content to generating a sale?  For example if I share a blog post on Twitter I get traffic back to my site.  When I get traffic I offer a lead generation guide to convince people to sign up as an email subscriber.  I promote webinars to email subscribers and at least 10% of people that attend webinars buy our products.  That’s just one content sales funnel, we have many more!

Not all Irish companies are convinced of the value on inbound marketing, and having an online strategy – do you spend time articulating why there is value, or just focus on those that want to develop one?

I create content which attracts people in.  I then try to get people to take the next step by signing up to a course or becoming an email subscriber.  There’s a big global audience so if they are not convinced with the content they won’t become part of my community.  I chase people with great content but if they don’t take the bait I leave them alone!

With being a big user of social media, how do you manage life / work, and online / offline balance?

Most of what I do I don’t consider work.  When you build relationships with people through social media it’s fun to interact with them and it doesn’t matter what part of the day it is.  For example, I check Facebook 7 days a week because it’s full of my friends.  Some friends buy from me, some partner with me and some just go drinking with me.  When you can’t figure out what part of your job is work you know you are doing something that’s interesting.

What is your work day like?

I start work at 6am and work to 12 and then head to the gym.  I’ll then work from 1.30 to 4.30 and pick up the kids.

The gym is a really important part to my day because this gets me fired up for the afternoon.   An early start is also important to me as I get most work in the morning!

What’s your top productivity tips?

1.  Schedule everything you do.  I use the Pommodoro technique and work in 25 minute intervals.
2.  Stay fit – Entrepreneurship is an endurance test. You need to be fit to survive.
3.  Don’t multitask – Multi tasking doesn’t work so give up doing it.

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