In today’s interview series, we share a great talk and that’s thanks to Harsh Agrawal, a professional blogger and entrepreneur from India. Being a founder and CEO of the world-famous ShoutMeLoud website, he covers topics related to SEO, web hosting, affiliate marketing and making money from blogging. Also WordPress, for sure.
Let’s learn from his experience and start the interview 🙂
Thanks for joining us today, Harsh. Please, tell us a bit more about your career background and how long have you been working with WordPress.
Hey Yuliya, it’s a pleasure to be here.
My online career is now almost a decade young. For those who don’t know me, I’m a professional blogger who is the fountainhead of an award-winning blog called ShoutMeLoud. We get more than 1 million page views a month and are a unicorn in the field of blogging.
The reason why ShoutMeLoud exists is because of our mission to help individuals around the globe to become their own boss. What could be better than doing something you are passionate about and living life on your terms. This is something blogging has given me and something I’m giving back to the society to complete the circle of life.
My journey with WordPress was started at the same time as ShoutMeLoud, 1st December 2008, the day when I migrated my BlogSpot blog to WordPress and after that, it’s been a great ride.
WordPress for me is a playground and many of you might now be knowing this, for years (2009-2013), I offered various WordPress services such as :
- Migrating BlogSpot to WordPress
- WordPress SEO
- WordPress theme customization
Working with WordPress on a professional and targeted capacity helped me to learn the ins and outs of WordPress and at the same time understand various use cases of it. I’m so glad that WordPress exists.
I’m also an international speaker and have spoken at events like Affiliate Summit (Las Vegas), InOrbit (Slovenia), MbSummit (Milan), Various WordCamps (India), IBM Connect, to name a few.
Now you are a professional blogger. Can you tell our readers how did you start a blog and how you went about promoting it?
After completing a bachelor’s degree in the field of Information technology from a reputed university in India, I was exposed to the world of blogging. It was something very new to me which I discovered while scouting the web. Within weeks, I was in love with the idea of writing and sharing my knowledge with the world.
After starting my first blog, in a month of two, I also discovered I can make money from blogging. For once, It sounded unbelievable but after initial doubt, I gave a shot to Google AdSense and Affiliate marketing.
Within months my life had changed. Once I started earning closer to $200-300/month, I made a mission for me to educate others about this lucrative career choice. After all, what’s better than having a choice in life?
I’m from India, and back then a fresher engineer who works 9-6 used to earn about $500-800/month and here working few hours a day, on something I’m passionate about was generating that much amount of money.
I thought: How great it would be if others learn about this way of leading the career. This is where ShoutMeLoud moved from being a hard-core technology blog to “Blog about blogging”. That transition what made ShoutMeLoud a well-known brand in the industry.
However, a lot of it was unplanned and unexpected. I often call myself an accidental blogger as an accident changed the course of my career. I have a full story about the accident here.
There are many other WordPress blogs out there. In your opinion, what makes ShoutMeLoud stand out of the crowd?
I believe it’s because of a few of our values such as:
- Our transparent culture. We publish income and expense report every month.
- Quality over quantity.
- No one should lose money because of us.
- People over anything else.
Another aspect is, when a blogger (Beginner or an experienced) get in touch with their queries, I could relate to their problems, questions, and journey. This put me in a unique position to help them in a way that works for them.
When did you start using WordPress and why did you choose WordPress out of all the CMS platforms available?
It’s been 10+ years and I explored a few options before moving my BlogSpot blog to WordPress. The ease of using WordPress, adding ads, customizing widgets, themes and plethora of plugins made WordPress a winning choice.
I don’t think I ever regretted or wished for any other platform since I started using WordPress.
Can you tell our readers, how WordCamp helps the WordPress community? How does speaking at WordCamps help your career?
The power of WordPress is the community. WordCamp helps the online community to come and meet in an offline setup while learning from each other and hear experts take on a specific topic. I was lucky enough to attend the first WordCamp in my country (India) and met Matt Mullenweg. That event had an impact on my career as I met many others who were on the same journey.
Speaking at WordCamp is my way of sharing back to the community. I usually talk about “WordPress SEO” as it is often the most topic and the biggest pain point of bloggers. Every WordCamp I spoke at, helped me to connect with the brightest mind of WordPress and many of them are now part of my inner circle.
For anyone working online on WordPress, I highly recommend attending at least 2-3 WordCamp to find many like-minded people. If you like speaking, becoming a speaker at WordCamp is the best thing you could do for your career.
Where do you go first to get WordPress news, insights, and updates?
I mostly use content discovery and RSS feed to stay updated with the latest in the WordPress industry. Some of them are:
- Elegant Themes blog
I absolutely love ManageWP.org as it always let me discover something new. I also have WordPress plugin repo RSS feed on my feed reader to stay updated with new plugin releases.
With the increasing popularity, WordPress has become an attractive target for hackers. What would you suggest to secure a WordPress site?
Prevention is better than cure and in the terms of WordPress security, configuring the WordPress backup is the best thing one could do. Another important aspect is to use a secure WordPress hosting like Kinsta, SiteGround to name a few.
Few easy but must have for secure WordPress:
- Regularly update all plugins and themes.
- Use the latest version of WordPress. (Always)
- Use latest PHP (Helps in speed as well)
- Set Google alerts for indexed pages. (Site:domain.com)
- Use Cloudflare or Sucuri or any DNS level filtering service.
For a detailed explanation on the last two points, one should read this extensive WordPress security guide.
Can you recommend your favorite WordPress theme or plugins to our visitors?
- Yoast SEO
- AMP for WP by Ahmed Kallaudi
- WP Advanced ads for ad management
- EDD for selling digital products on your WordPress site
- Easy table of content for adding TOC (Helps in SEO and UX)
- OptinMonster for email capture
- PushEngage for automated push notifications
- WP link status pro for fixing broken links
- WP Rocket for speed optimization.
What WordPress tips would you give to beginners?
The best way to learn WordPress is by practicing. Spend time trying new things and set up a local WordPress installation. Make reading a part of your daily activity and keep an eye on what’s happening in the WordPress ecosystem.
Last but not least, do attend a WordCamp near you. You can find a list of WordCamp near you on the official Website here.
Tell us about your interests. How do you manage your work-life balance?
I’m a minimalist guy and what matters to me most is the peace of mind. I believe a “healthy mind and healthy body is the essentialism for remarkable work”.
Here are a few things that I do to ensure I enjoy everything that life has to offer:
- Maintain a to-do list via Wunderlist.
- Use 5-minute productivity planner for GTD.
- Weekly date night with my partner. ( Just by adding this into my life a few years back, I removed a lot of friction from the work-life balance which was happening due to my undivided attention to the work).
- Meditate regularly.
- Vipassana once a year: This is a 10 days meditation camp where one has to maintain noble silence, no contact with the outside world for 10 days and 10 hours of meditation every day. I have been doing this for the last 3 years and highly recommend it to everyone. Disconnect to connect.
- Physical activity: Starts with Yoga in the morning with a combo of Swimming or Basketball.
One thing that I ensure that this whole routine does not become monotonous or boring. I travel a lot and in the past few years, I have traveled to places like Antarctica, Africa, Russia, Bali and recently did a solo trip to Portugal.
Tell us a bit about your working setup (hardware + software). Can you shoot us a picture of your desk? 🙂
I love my gadgets and always love discussing gadgets and softwares.
Here is my current setup looks like:
- iMac 27”
- Macbook Pro with Touchbar
- Blue Yeri Mic
- Sony A7 III (DSLR)
- DJI Pocket (Handheld Cam)
- Huawei P20 Pro
- Wunderlist (For managing to-do list)
- Asana (For project management)
- Evernote (For note taking)
- Camtasia (For screencast)
- Snag it (For image capture and editing)
- Dashlane (For password management)
- Day one (For journaling)
- Pocket (For offline reading)
- Feedly (For RSS feed)
- AgoraPulse and SocialPilot for Social media management
- AuphonicEdit (For recording podcast on the mobile app)
- AccuRanker for Rank tracking
- SEMRush for all things SEO.
- Frase for Content optimization.
You are always crazy when you are doing something that no one else is doing! Be Crazy!
Thank you Harsh for being a CMS2CMS interview quest. Wishing you success in everything you do. Good luck! 🍀
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